Dry Falls And Grand Coulee

Plane Views Over Washington

During the Ice Age, glaciers altered the course of the Columbia River, creating Grand Coulee. The coulee was carved even deeper as catastrophic flooding from Glacial Lake Missoula swept across present-day Washington several times before the glaciers finally receded. As they receded, the Columbia returned to its original channel, leaving Grand Coulee dry.

A 3.5-mile-long 400-foot-tall precipice is located near the midpoint of the coulee, and created a massive waterfall when water was flowing through the coulee. Ten times larger than Niagara, it is believed that Dry Falls was the greatest known waterfall in world history.

Dry Falls and Grand Coulee provide some of the evidence that has helped scientists piece together our understanding of the Missoula Floods that occured during the Ice Age and created several landscape features in Washington.

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Coulee City, Dry Falls and Grand Coulee from the North (R13A0920)
This view of Dry Falls and Grand Coulee from the north gives some sense of the scale of the Ice Age falls.

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Lower Grand Coulee, Dry Falls, Banks Lake (W10A0030)
Lake Lenore, Alkali Lake, Blue Lake and Park Lake fill lower Grand Coulee leading north to Dry Falls.

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Dry Fall at the Heart of Grand Coulee (W10A0031)
Dry Falls marks the boundary between Upper Grand Coulee and Lower Grand Coulee.

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Dry Falls and Banks Lake (W10A0032)
Water from the Columbia River is pumped into Upper Grand Coulee to create the Banks Lake Reservoir. The water is used to support irrigation in central Washington. The Dry Falls Dam keeps the water in the lake and keeps Dry Falls Dry.

Related Sights

Check out the view from the ground:

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