Monday, September 02, 2013

Sun Lakes

View Larger Map

Here's a slideshow from Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park in Eastern Washington, about 40 miles north of Moses Lake. The state parks description of the place:

Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park is a 4,027-acre camping park with 73,640 feet of freshwater shoreline at the foot of Dry Falls. Dry Falls is one of the great geological wonders of North America. Carved by Ice Age floods that long ago disappeared, the former waterfall is now a stark cliff, 400 feet high and 3.5 miles wide. In its heyday, the waterfall was four times the size of Niagara Falls. Today it overlooks a desert oasis filled with lakes and abundant wildlife.

These photos are from the park area "downstream" of Dry Falls. (There's a separate post on the way with photos from the overlook above Dry Falls.) It's hard to comprehend the sheer magnitude of the Missoula Floods, but to my non-geologist eyes the the Sun Lakes area (and similar areas around Washington's Channeled Scablands region) really do look like the result of an enormous flood, with piles of rocky debris, and deep gouges now filled by lakes. This sort of terrain is considered to be the closest terrestrial analogue to outflow channels on Mars, like the one visited by Mars Pathfinder in 1997.

The high freestanding rock formation in a few of these photos is Umatilla Rock. I ran across a blog post about it with a lot of great photos, including some from the top of the rock, at a site devoted solely to Ice Age Floods.

I should point out there's more to the park than gawking at geology. A recent Associated Press story about the area goes on about the recreation options here. Beyond the obvious hiking, boating, and fishing options, apparently there's even a 9 hole golf course somewhere in the state park. It seems like a long way to go just to play golf, if you ask me. But then, crossing the street is a long way to go just to play golf, as far as I'm concerned. The park also has mini-golf (aka fun golf), paddle boats, and even a concession selling water balloons at $2 per bucket, so you can have a water balloon fight without the hassle of filling water balloons first. That actually sounds cool.

No comments :