It’s hard to imagine eastern Washington as a tropical paradise with a warm and wet subtropical climate, but that’s how it looked about fifteen million years ago. And, during that time, the Pacific Ocean spilled between the Cascade Mountains into eastern Washington creating a massive and very deep body of water. The deepest point was over 2 miles deep near what we now know as Othello, Washington. Gradually, over millions and millions of years, the waters were forced out by enormous lava flows followed by catastrophic flooding.

What are the Drumheller Channels?

Photo: WGS/DNR/Dan Coe
Photo: WGS/DNR/Dan Coe
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Drumheller Channels are a geological wonder formed by Earth’s violent history during the last ice age. When it was all over, Mother Nature left us Drumheller Channels in the middle of Washington. The channels were named after a farming family who offered geologist J. Harlen Bretz a place to stay while he studied and explored the area.

WGS/DNR/Dan Coe
WGS/DNR/Dan Coe
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Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark was designated in 1986 and today, visitors can hike and explore the channels and get an awe-inspiring look into the region's turbulent past. From potholes, basalt cliffs, and steep canyons, the area will not disappoint those who love geology and the great outdoors. And, it’s just a short drive from any eastern Washington town.

How do I get to the Drumheller Trail?

Screenshot Google Maps
Screenshot Google Maps
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There are several ways to get to Drumheller Channels and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has a map, general driving directions, and official landmark access information at their site.

This Hike in the Columbia River Gorge is a Must Experience

The Labyrinth to Coyote Wall Loop. It runs 6.7 miles with an elevation gain of 1,489 feet. It features a waterfall, lava tube, rock formations, and incredible views. It’s heavily trafficked with hikers and mountain bikers on weekends and dogs are welcome on a leash. Beware, you’ll need good hiking shoes as a good portion of the trail is very rocky. It’s open all year round, but the experts recommend day use from March to November.  

Gallery Credit: Paul Drake

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