Scenic USA - Washington

Steptoe Butte Overlook

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Steptoe Butte View - Steptoe Butte State Park Heritage Site, Washington

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Noted for its sweeping views of the surrounding Palouse, Steptoe Butte State Park encircles an isolated haystack shaped butte in eastern Washington. The quartzite Steptoe looms over the rippling plains of the Palouse. Named after Colonel Edward Steptoe, the butte is identified as an isolated protrusion of bedrock. Here on the Palouse, volcanic basalt spewed from deep inside the earth, spilling out across today’s Columbia River Basin. These ancient lava flows date back seven to 15 million years, creating the rich soils of the Palouse. The Steptoe is a much older High Plains remnant, estimated at 400 million years old.
   Today, a very narrow road wraps around the butte, seeming to climb in endless revolutions before arriving at the top. As you may have guessed, a hotel once stood atop the summit, entertaining guests with magnificent views in every direction. Communication towers are all you’ll see today. The parkland acreage was donated by Virgil McCroskey of Oaksdale in 1946. McCroskey included Steptoe Butte from a distance these words, for the enjoyment of all the people forever and ever, on the deed to the state ... ensuring public enjoyment forever. Recognized as a National Natural Landmark, the park is one of those unusual Washington State small wonders.
   This view, looking out over a small portion of the Palouse, portrays a rich farmland that covers 3000 square miles of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Known for its vast wheat and legume fields, this land changes its colors throughout the seasons. Rich black earth shows recent work of the plow. Its vivid greens of springtime growth flaunt the magic of the rich earth; and golden hues of autumn forecast another bountiful year.

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