Steptoe Butte

Steptoe Butte is a quartzite island jutting out of the silty loess of the Palouse hills in Whitman County, Washington. It is contained by Steptoe Butte State Park. 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.

A hotel built by Cashup Davis stood atop Steptoe butte from 1888 to 1908, burning down several years after it closed. In 1946, Virgil McCroskey donated 120 acres (0.49 km2) of land to form Steptoe Butte State Park, which was later increased to over 150 acres (0.61 km2). Steptoe Butte is currently recognized as a National Natural Landmark because of its unique geological value. It is named in honor of Colonel Edward Steptoe.

A narrow paved road winds around the butte, leading to a parking area at the summit. Popular activities include:

  • Sight-seeing
  • Hang gliding
  • Flying kites
  • Model airplanes
  • Photography

Elevation: 3,612 feet (1,101 m), approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) above the surrounding countryside.

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