Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway

National Scenic BywayWashington

Top Photos

  • Birders on the Coulee Corridor

    The Coulee Corridor is on a 'flyway,' literally a travel corridor for migrating birds heading north in the spring and south in the fall. It also offers nesting habitats for many species that are rare or impossible to find in other parts of Washington. Couple these facts with the 300 days of sunshine annually and birders flock to the Coulee Corridor year round.

  • Sun Lakes State Park

    Sun Lakes State Park is bathed in sun, its blue water and tree-lined landscape overlooked by clear skies.

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  • Banks Lake in Fall Colors

    Banks Lake sits still and peaceful during a fall day, surrounded by fall colors and a magnificent blue sky.

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  • Flock of Waterfowl

    This flock of resting waterfowl makes its home in the blue lakes and marshes of Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

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  • Evidence of the Ice Age Floods

    From the overlook at Dry Falls the traveler can look down to see Dry Falls Lake, a former plunge pool of the ancient waterfalls. Now it's a serene scene dotted with waterfowl and seasonally anglers using fly fishing tackle. This is just one of the thousands of Ice Age Floods features to be found along the byway.

  • The Lower Grand Coulee

    The Lower Grand Coulee has many natural lakes and smaller year round and seasonal (vernal) ponds. Coulee wallls reflect in the water and rare rains bring stunning rainbows contrasting sharply with the basalt cliffs. At the north end lake waters are fresh - Blue Lake is home to many rainbow trout and attracts large numbers of loons and grebes. At the south end Lake Lenore is very alkaline hosting brine shrimp and salamanders and Lanonton trout, creating a rich source of food for a variety of birds.

  • Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese

    Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese and other waterfowl migrate through the Coulee Corridor each Spring and Fall. Many of these birds congregate at the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge at the south end of the Byway creating a spectacle of sight and sounds! Refuge managers maintain corn fields, leaving some of the grain in the fields over the winter in anticipation of the birds' arrival. Following the birds, bird watchers arrive with scopes, binoculars and camera gear to take in the wondrous sight of thousands of each species arriving, feeding and returning to roost each evening. Each species has its own distinct voice and calls among the flocks create a sound landscape perhaps as impressive as the visual landscape.

  • The Drumheller Channels

    Wigeon Lake in the Drumheller Channels is just one of many lakes that dot this National Natural Landmark. Additionally, Crab Creek, the longest creek in Washington, winds its way through the area. The Drummheller Channels are an example of 'butte and basin' scabland, an erosional landscape characterized by hundreds of isolated steep sided hills surrounded by a braided network of channels or coulees. The Ice Age Flood waters left this area a rugged jumble of cliffs, canyons, lakes and remnants of ancient lava flows.

  • Million Dollar Mile Section of the Upper Grand Coulee

    In order to build SR 155 in the 1940s along Banks Lake a large cut had to be made through the basalt cliffs. At the time it cost a million dollars to create this mile-long stretch of highway - an astronomical amount of money at the time. It is fun to imagine how the highway would be built in today's world and how much more it would cost.

  • The Upper Grand Coulee

    The Upper Grand Coulee is seen from the Million Dollar Mile section of the Coulee Corridor. 900 foot coulee walls contrast sharply with the waters of Banks Lake in this Ice Age Floods carved coulee. Here the power of ancient waters is graphically illustrated and reported in the strata of ancient basalt laid down by multiple lava eruptions from millions of years ago and hundreds of miles away. Steamboat Rock, a columnar basalt butte that was once an island in a rerouted Columbia River bed now towers 800 feet above the surface of Banks Lake.

  • Spring Wildflowers on the Coulee Corridor

    While the showy bright yellow arrowleaf balsamroot flowers may catch most people's eye as they travel the Coulee Corridor in their car, when they leave the confines of the automobile behind and begin to look at the diverse plant community of the native shrub-steppe habitat, they will be surprised at the colors, shapes and sizes of the wildflowers.

View all 33 photos for this byway.