The last Ice Age left us some pretty cool stuff. In the deserts of Central Washington State, there are so many phenomenal geological wonders to explore. Among these is Dry Falls and Soap Lake. I’ll attempt to show you the beauty of these lands: my feeble photographs do not adequately capture what I experienced. You’ll just have to come explore for yourself.
About 2 hours’ drive east of Leavenworth, WA on Highway 2 and just south of Coulee City, is Dry Falls. A dramatic, scalloped precipice that was once the site of the largest waterfall in the world (about five times the width of Niagara Falls, according to estimates.) As the glaciers of the last ice age melted, they carved out a giant, 3.5-mile swath of the high country, creating cliffs with 400-foot drops. The biggest waterfall in history was born. It is hard to imagine that water alone could create such dramatic landscapes, until you contemplate the enormity of the glaciers that once completely covered North America so long ago.
There is an interpretive center at Dry Falls that has several look-out points and affords the best views of the landscape. This is a great place to get out of the car, stretch, walk around and have a picnic lunch.
From Dry Falls, drive south about 21 miles until you reach Soap Lake. The resort town surrounding the lake is an outdoor lover’s sanctuary. Soap Lake is two miles long, and here you can boat, kayak, jet-ski and fish your cares away. Oh, and bathe in the shallow waters and rub mineral mud all over yourself! It’s loaded with minerals because soap lake is at the tail end of the Grand Coulee water system, and there’s no outlet.
Soap Lake is an alkali lake with over a dozen different minerals to help heal what ails you. Because of the high alkaline content, the water has a slightly slimy feel to it, and sulfury odor; but don’t let that gross you out – it’s part and parcel of the high mineral quality. Dig down deep with your hands to the bottom, and scoop out some black mud. Go on, rub it over your skin, then take a seat in an Adirondack chair and let the mud dry. Aaaaahhhhh.
There is a unique sundial on the banks of the lake, with a Native American sculpture “Calling the Healing Waters.” Here, visitors can relax and take in the Native American history that surrounds this part of Washington State.
North of Dry Falls is Banks Lake. A much longer lake with many opportunities for outdoor recreation. If you’re pressed for time, however, both Dry Falls and Soap Lake can be visited in a day, since they’re less than 30 miles apart. But I suggest taking at least 2 – 4 days to really explore everything that the Grand Coulee area has to offer.
Where to Stay:
Soap Lake Resort. Located right on the banks of Soap Lake.
Coulee Playland was once owned by my husband’s Mom and Dad and is a great camping/RV recreational area on the northern end of Banks Lake, less than an hour’s drive north of Dry Falls.
Where to Eat:
Don’s Restaurant Soap Lake Natural Spa and Resort is pretty good.
The nearby town of Ephrata has some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. Ephrata Pizza and Italian Restaurant