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Steptoe Butte State Park
Washington State Park
Steptoe butte.jpg
Steptoe Butte
Location Whitman County, Washington, United States 3,612 ft (1,101 m)
Area 150 acres (61 ha)
Established 1946
Operator Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
Website Steptoe Butte State Park
Designated: 1965

Steptoe Butte is a quartzite island jutting out of the silty loess of the Palouse hills in Whitman County, Washington, in the northwest United States. The 3,612-foot (1,101 m) butte is preserved as Steptoe Butte State Park, a publicly owned 150-acre (61 ha) recreation area located 12 miles (19 km) north of Colfax. Steptoe Butte and Kamiak Butte comprise Steptoe and Kamiak Buttes National Natural Landmark.

Geology

The rock that forms the butte is over 400 million years old, in contrast with the 15–7 million year old Columbia River Basalts that underlie the rest of the Palouse. Steptoe Butte has become an archetype, as isolated protrusions of bedrock, such as summits of hills or mountains, in lava flows have come to be called "steptoes".

  • Elevation: 3,612 feet (1,101 m) above sea level, approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) above the surrounding countryside (prominence).
  • Visibility: Up to 70–100 miles (110–160 km). Mount Spokane is easily visible, 70 miles (110 km) to the north.

History

The butte was named after Colonel Edward Steptoe. A hotel built by James S. "Cashup" Davis stood atop the butte from 1888 to 1908, burning down several years after it closed. In 1946, Virgil McCroskey donated 120 acres (49 ha) of land to form the park, which was later increased to over 150 acres (61 ha). The lower slopes of the butte which adjoin the state park were purchased in 2016 by Kent and Elaine Bassett. The owners plan to protect their 437 acres (177 ha) of land from development, eventually donating it to the state.

Activities and amenities

A narrow paved road winds around the butte, leading to a parking area at the summit. The park offers picnicking facilities and an interpretive wayside exhibit. Popular activities include sight-seeing, paragliding, hang gliding, kite and model airplane flying, and photography.

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