Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2005)
- Intrinsic QualitiesNatural
- Length150 miles
Landscape along this byway demonstrates the power of lava and water to slowly and powerfully carve the land. The corridor is also an important birding area; Audubon Washington developed a Great Washington State Birding Trail-Coulee Corridor map. Near the byway’s end is the immense Grand Coulee Dam.
Story of the Byway
The French word “coulee” means dry riverbed or canyon, yet water had a lot to do with the corridor’s creation. Native Americans lived on this land of sheer basalt walls and formations left by Ice Age floods. Today, the Moses, Columbia, Wenatchee, Okanogan, Entiat-Chelan, Methow, Nez Perce, Palus, Nespelem, Colville, San Poil and Lake tribes live on the Colville Indian Reservation, which is also home to the Grand Coulee Dam.
The byway begins in Othello and winds north through lakes, farmland and basalt coulees (dry riverbeds or canyons). In approximately 26 miles, you’ll arrive at Moses Lake, one of the largest cities along the corridor. Drive for another 23 miles on SR-17 to reach Soap Lake. Continue north on SR-155 for approximately 43 miles to reach Steamboat Rock State Park. Fifteen miles farther is the Grand Coulee Dam. From the dam, continue west for about 52 miles to reach the end of the byway in Omak.
Points of Interest
Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park
A geology geek haven, features the 400-foot high site of a former waterfall that was four times the size of Niagara Falls; camping, freshwater lake access, a golf course
Colville Tribal Museum
Located on the land of the Twelve Bands, features murals depicting the Nez Perce trail and pre-dam Kettle Falls; videos explaining the area’s geology and history; gift shop
Grand Coulee Dam
Third-largest producer of electricity in the world and the largest concrete structure in the United States, host guided tours and laser light shows
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Waterfowl, coyotes, lakes, marshes and dramatic geological formations can be found here
A Day on the Coulee Corridor
Begin in Omak and head south on Washington Route 155. Visit the St. Mary’s Mission, which was established in 1886. You will pass by the Colville Indian Reservation. The Colville Indian Reservation is steeped with history, the culture of the Colville Confederated Tribes, renowned artists, the Tribal Museum in Coulee Dam, and has the resting places of Chief Joseph and Chief Moses in Nespelem.
You will soon reach Coulee Dam and Electric City. Grand Coulee Dam is the keystone of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project and provides the water source for over 75 types of farm crops. Lots of recreational activities include boating, birding, fishing, and swimming on Lake Roosevelt, Banks Lake, Potholes Reservoir, on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and many other lakes along the byway.
Make a stop at Soap Lake, which has unique physical and chemical properties. Soap Lake mud, its salty water, sandy beaches and the warm weather are some of the reasons people come here. Soon you will reach Ephrata. Ephrata is the Grant County seat and home to the courthouse which finished construction in 1918.
Continue to drive down this oasis to Othello, where you will end your journey. Be sure to look at the Old Hotel, built in 1912. If you still feel there is more to explore, there are many options for side trips along the way!
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