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Twin Sisters Rock

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Twin Sisters are two pillars of basalt that jut from the cliffs along Wallula Gap overlooking the Columbia River. Geologists say the rock formation is the result of erosion from a great flood near the end of the last Ice Age, about 12,000 to 15,000 years ago.

A Cayuse legend states that the natural monument was formed when Coyote, an animal spirit, fell in love with three sisters, then became jealous of them and turned two into stone. The third was turned into a cave, says the legend. Regardless of the reason the pillars were formed, the trail here--though short--provides some remarkable adventures. From the area at the base of the Twin Sisters Rock to the highland area rocks to the south, you'll enjoy amazing views of the Wallula Gap on the Columbia River.

Yes, this is a short hike, but it offers a lot in that short distance. This trail offers a great study of the geology of the Columbia Basin, as well as an introduction to the desert flora--which is easy to see here as the plethora of desert blooms push right up against the trail (and the access road).

From the trailhead, an old-fashioned stairlike stile gets you over the fence at the trailhead. The trail leads up a steep gully to a junction. Going left at the junction takes you up to the base of Twin Sisters--be careful of the loose rock here. Going straight takes you back behind to the east side of Twin Sisters and great views of them. Small sand dunes nestle along the base of the pillars. About 0.5 mile out, you'll find a fence and marker of private land behind it. Don't cross the fence. Hike to the highland just south of Twin Sisters and enjoy the stellar view of Wallula Gap.

Driving Directions:

From Pasco, drive east on US 12, crossing the Snake River, and continue east to a junction with State Route 730 (found just after crossing the Walla Walla River. Turn right onto SR 730 and continue 2 miles to find the signed pullout parking area at the base of Twin Sisters on the left.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 2 trip reports for this hike.
Twin Sisters Rock — May 06, 2012 — altaholi
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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checked out this hike with my husband, 4yr old and one year old in the backpack. had some rough par...
checked out this hike with my husband, 4yr old and one year old in the backpack. had some rough parts for the four year old but nothing that we couldn't handle by holding her hand. you can walk around both sister separately and together. overall a great hike.
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Twin Sisters Rock — Feb 23, 2005 — M&S
Day hike
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A late afternoon exploration of this beautiful place at the Wallula Gap of the Columbia R.- hike #5...

A late afternoon exploration of this beautiful place at the Wallula Gap of the Columbia R.- hike #57 in the great new ""Best Desert Hikes Washington"" by Alan L. Bauer and Dan A. Nelson. Located SE of Pasco on the way to Walla Walla, the Twin Sisters overlook a most stunning view of the Wallula Gap- where the Columbia flows thru a ""narrow"" cut in the basalt plateau, where tens of thousands of years ago the immense ice age ancient L. Missoula floods were forced to squeeze through this narrow gap and the subsequent gigantic backup of floodwaters created temporary huge lakes themselves behind it.

The Sisters are twin basalt pillars left behind when the floodwaters receded. A short trail system takes you up a crumbly steep path to the base of the pillars (off-limits to climbing!), with fantasic views up and down the Columbia, but also of the gorgeous immediate basalt cliffs and hills behind them. Unfortunately only a small portion of the land around the pillars is open to the public- because the enticingly-beautiful backdrops just beg for exploration. A private landowner has what's got to be one of the best views in creation from his farmhouse and spread next to and behind the park overlooking the Sisters, the river and the Gap in the distance! But with his location comes the inevitable and unfortunate problems with people who don't respect the fenced private property and the no-trespassing signs and want a closer look-see around. He means business and packs a sidearm to back it up as I witnessed (from public property and with no intent of trespassing anyway) during my visit. So short story enjoy your visit but stay behind the fences!

There are a few other trails that meander through the area, taking you into a small sand dune area and also up to some rocky highpoints on either side of the pillars, with flowers galore in the springtime I've heard. I saw many very tiny yellow flowers atop one highpoint, the first flowers I had seen on my trip to the Tri-Cities area. I also lucked out with calm air, as I've heard it can really blow through the Gap. I stayed thru sunset (the park closes at dusk) and enjoyed seeing this spot for the first time- magnificent!

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twin sisters rock m&s.jpg
Twin Sister Rock. Photo by M&S.
Eastern Washington -- Tri-Cities
Walla Walla County Department of Public Works
Roundtrip 1.0 miles
Elevation Gain 200 ft
Highest Point 500 ft
User info
Good for kids
Guidebooks & Maps
Best Desert Hikes Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Walla Walla

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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