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Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park - Umatilla Rock via Monument Coulee

Central Washington > Grand Coulee
47.5855, -119.3557 Map & Directions
Length
5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
100 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Easy/Moderate
Umatilla Rock - Monument Coulee. Photo copyright caitoh234. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Wildlife
  • Lakes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

The hike involves a circumnavigation of Umatilla Rock, a narrow rock blade that passes below Dry Falls. This area lies midway along the 50-mile Grand Coulee—one of the longest and most spectacular chasms carved out by up to 100 gargantuan Ice Age floods. Continue reading

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Hiking Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park - Umatilla Rock via Monument Coulee

The hike involves a circumnavigation of Umatilla Rock, a narrow rock blade that passes below Dry Falls. This area lies midway along the 50-mile Grand Coulee—one of the longest and most spectacular chasms carved out by up to 100 gargantuan Ice Age floods.

The floods originated from sudden outbursts of ice-dammed Glacial Lake Missoula as recently as 15,000 years ago. The height of the Ice Age floodwaters (800 ft deep), shooting over Dry Falls at perhaps 60-70 mph, was nearly the height of Seattle’s 76-story Columbia Center-Washington State’s tallest building.

Following a red-marked loop trail, start by heading northeast in a counterclockwise direction along the base of Umatilla Rock via Monument Coulee.

At a half-mile is a labyrinth of basalt pillars that have slumped and toppled away from the edge of Umatilla Rock during or soon after the last Ice Age floods. Continue northeast toward the upper end of Umatilla Rock. After 1.2 miles turn left around the north end of Umatilla Rock and follow red trail markers (or unpaved road) back to trailhead.

Notice the white, rectangular Dry Falls Visitor Center 400 feet above along the coulee wall to the west.

Note that there is no potable water and not much shade available along the trail so be sure to carry drinking water and use sunscreen as needed. Watch for poison oak.

WTA Pro Tip: After your hike, hop back in the car and visit the Dry Falls (J Harlen Bretz Memorial) Visitor’s Center visible from the trail. Here is a spectacular view from the top of Dry Falls across to Umatilla Rock as well as informative exhibits and video programs related to the Ice Age Floods.

Hike Description Written by
Bruce Bjornstad, WTA Correspondent

Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park - Umatilla Rock via Monument Coulee

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.5855, -119.3557 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Just south of the Dry Falls Visitors Center along State Route 17 turn east at MP 92.5 into Sun Lakes State Park. Continue 1.2 miles before turning left onto the state park road toward Deep Lake. In another 0.9 miles take another left onto an unpaved road toward Perch and Dry Falls Lakes. Continue 0.4 miles before parking at the kiosk for the Umatilla Rock Trail.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Central Washington > Grand Coulee

Washington State Parks

Guidebooks & Maps

Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods (Bruce Bjornstad - Keokee Books)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Banks Lake

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Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park - Umatilla Rock via Monument Coulee

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