Flip a coin. Draw slips of paper from a hat. Put on a blindfold and spin around.

Whichever direction wins, a fun drive awaits.

Go east, west, north or south from Walla Walla for new sights and adventures.

Here are a few of my favorites.


Our longest loop cuts north from Touchet on the Touchet North Road, swings through Prescott on State Route 124 and returns on U.S. Highway 12 by way of Waitsburg.

You might see a moose along the Touchet River, or a coyote in the rolling hills near Prescott.

Kestrels hover over hunting grounds and red-tailed hawks soar overhead.

Check out the “farm art” along the way.

Either pack your own picnic or stop at one of the small towns dotting the route to dine.

Check out the street art in Waitsburg if you feel the urge to get out of the car and stretch your legs.


Head southeast from Milton-Freewater on the Walla Walla River Road as it ascends into the Blue Mountains.

Take the South Fork as the valley narrows. Follow the meandering road past basalt outcroppings and towering canyon walls to its end at Harris Park.

Watch for elk on the grass-tree mosaic slopes and wild turkeys strutting along the road.


For a rejuvenating experience, drive out Middle Waitsburg Road and return on Lower Waitsburg Road. Or vice-versa. Your choice.

This is a fine introduction to the Palouse landscape that beckons near Walla Walla.

Alluring views wait around every corner and over every hill. High points offer vistas of the snowcapped Blue Mountains.

Sweeping valleys are often filled with prosperous farmsteads or the occasional abandoned barn.


Wild country awaits up Nine Mile Canyon Road, which leaves U.S. 12 to the north a mile west of Nine-Mile Hill.

The serpentine gravel road climbs through a gauntlet of sagebrush and, in spring, blooms of phlox and arrowleaf balsamroot.

Bring a map and a picnic for when you stop at a crossroads and plan the next stretch of driving.

If you get turned around, drive to a high point, from which you will see windmills on the southern hills and the snowcapped Blue Mountains to the east and south.

Work your way east to Touchet North Road. From there, follow the river south on pavement to Touchet at U.S. 12.

Or if time allows and you’re feeling adventurous, turn east again on one of several gravel choices.

These roads rise, fall, twist and turn through hollows and over rises.

From Woodward Canyon Road, turn south to reach U.S. 12 in Lowden.

Or, if you crave even more solitude, continue on back roads in a southeasterly direction to Walla Walla.

Whichever route you choose, whichever direction you travel, Walla Walla offers a smorgasbord of choices for the day-tripper.

All you need is a tank of gas and curiosity for what’s over the next hill. 

Reach the author at jeffp557@gmail.com

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