East of the Tri-Cities (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland Washington) you can treat yourself to a beautiful scenic drive through the rolling hills known as the Palouse. Washington Highway 124 makes a journey eastward across the state. If it isn’t marked on your map as a scenic byway, it should be.
I wasn’t counting on this portion of my journey being so scenic. My plan was to drive over into Idaho, then go north on US 95. I knew Idaho would be beautiful, but the biggest treat of the day was the Palouse — a region of rolling hills, mostly located in the southeastern corner of Washington State. It spills over a little into Idaho and Oregon, but this is arguably the best part. Mile after mile, Route 124 fascinated me with incredible scenery.
You’ll have to watch the Drivelapse video, further down the page, to appreciate every curve of Route 124. I found a couple of great places to take pictures: the first was Lamar Road. This farm-access road parallels the highway for a few miles, so you won’t have to backtrack (unless you pass the first entrance, and then have to backtrack, like I did). On the east end, Lamar Road starts with an old mailbox and a picturesque grain silo…
… followed immediately by an old, abandoned Ford pickup truck. With no fences or trespassing signs, I wandered over to the truck for a few pictures, with those rolling hills in the background.
Back on the main road, in this area Route 124 parallels the Touchet River. You’ll probably catch a glimpse of it, now and again. Beyond the strip of green vegetation provided by the river, there are more Palouse hills. At different times of the year, you might find these hills green or brown, depending on whether they’ve been irrigated or if it’s the right time for tall grass to be growing.
I took another side-trip onto an even better road into Piper Canyon, just outside of the community of Prescott, Washington. This great little road cut a path through the rolling hills…
… providing one photo opportunity after another, around every curve.
I think this photo gives you a pretty good idea of what the Palouse looks like. It’s hypnotizing.
I didn’t stop in Prescott…
… but I did take a few moments to explore Waitsburg. Route 124 zig-zags through town, just one block before it ends at US 12. I’ll show you more of Waitsburg on its own page.
The Bottom Line
If you enjoy a scenic drive through rolling hills, you’ll have a great time on Washington Route 124. Be sure to take a few side-roads, too, so that you experience everything this region has to offer.
Washington 124 begins on the east side of Pasco, just after you cross the Snake River on US 12. It also ends at US 12, but in between, the federal highway takes a dip down to Walla Walla, then back up to Waitsburg. If you’re looking for the more direct route, or you just want to take a scenic drive, Route 124 will work nicely.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive along Washington Route 124: