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Rock Creek (Palouse River tributary) facts for kids

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Rock Creek
Hole in the Ground Coulee.jpg
Rock Creek flows through Hole in the Ground Coulee between Bonnie Lake and Rock Lake.
Country United States
State Washington
County Spokane, Adams, Whitman
Physical characteristics
Main source Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
Pine Lakes, Spokane County
2,226 ft (678 m)
River mouth Palouse River
near Winona, Whitman County
1,280 ft (390 m)
Length 52 mi (84 km)
Basin features
Basin size 430 sq mi (1,100 km2)

Rock Creek is a tributary of the Palouse River in the U.S. state of Washington. The source of the creek is Pine Lakes in the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR). The creek flows through the TNWR and ultimately joins the Palouse River 6 miles (10 km) downstream from the unincorporated town of Winona, Washington.

Rock Creek drains a basin of 430 square miles (1,100 km2), 13 percent of the Palouse River basin. Rock Creek drains Rock Lake and, upstream from that, Bonnie Lake. Rock Lake has a maximum depth of 350 feet (110 m) and a mean depth of 170 feet (52 m). Lakes within the Rock Creek drainage with managed fisheries include Rock and Bonnie Lakes, and Chapman Lake. Many small lakes in the drainage have no outlets, and some evaporate completely in dry weather.

A Rock Lake looking east
Trail along the east side of Rock Lake. An old rail grade is visible along the basalt walls of the lake.

Geological significance

As Rock Creek crosses the Columbia River Plateau, it passes through the Channeled Scablands, created by the Missoula Floods that swept across eastern Washington during the Pleistocene epoch. The creek follows one of many paths taken by the floods as they cut through the Columbia River Basalt. Notable geologic features in the Rock Creek basin include the scabland and Rock Lake. The creek parallels the adjacent Cow Creek scabland and joins the Palouse River just before it departs Washtucna Coulee, the abandoned flood-scoured course of the river.

Access

The John Wayne Pioneer Trail follows Rock Creek for a portion of the drainage, allowing unique access, particularly to Rock Lake.

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