Steptoe Butte State Park is a 150-acre, 3,612-foot-tall natural monument. Thimble-shaped, the quartzite butte looms in bald grandeur over the prevailing flat lands.Want to support Washington State Parks? Get involved by joining a friends' group. For more information, visit the Friends' Group web page.
Summer: 6 a.m. to dusk
Winter: 6 a.m. to dusk
The park is open year round for day use only.
Winter Schedule for all Washington State Parks
Don't move firewood: Please protect the Pacific Northwest from invasive species by obtaining or purchasing your firewood at or near your camping destination (within 50 miles). Firewood can carry insects and diseases that threaten the health of our western forests. You can make a difference by buying and burning your firewood locally. For more information, visit online at www.dontmovefirewood.org or the Washington Invasive Species Council website.
The Discover Pass now can be used on either of two vehicles!Annual pass: $30
One-day pass: $10
(Transaction and dealer fees may apply)
A Discover Pass is required for motor-vehicle access to state parks and recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Exemptions:
Your purchase of the Discover Pass supports recreation on state lands. However, the Discover Pass is not required if you are camping or renting overnight accommodations, for the duration of your stay at that state park. For additional exemptions and more information, please visit the Discover Pass website
The park has no camping.
Located 12 miles north of Colfax, Wash., near the state's eastern border in Whitman County.
From U.S. 195:
Six miles north of Colfax, turn east on Scholz Rd. Follow signs to Oakesdale and Steptoe Butte.
In the winter, please drive carefully on the road to the park. The entrance may be covered with snow and ice.
Steptoe Butte downloadable pdf map #1
List of all downloadable Washington State Park maps
The park is famous for its stark, dramatic beauty and the panoramic view it provides of surrounding farmlands, the Blue Mountains, and other neighboring ranges and peaks. From the top of the butte, the eye can see 200 miles.
Steptoe Butte, a high-promontory in the Palouse Hills of southeast Washington, has served as a dramatic viewpoint for countless generations. The quartzite butte is some of the oldest rock in the Pacific Northwest, and marks the border of the original North American Continent.
Once known as Pyramid Peak, the landform was renamed Steptoe Butte after Colonel Edward J. Steptoe (1816-1865) who fought in the nearby 1858 Battle of Rosalia. Nearly two-decades later, pioneer James S. “Cashup” Davis purchased the promontory from the Northern Pacific Railroad. After building a wagon road to the summit he erected a two-story mountaintop hotel in 1888. The hotel was capped by a glass observatory with a telescope. Guests using this telescope claimed to view the distant Cascade Range on a clear day. Although a unique destination, difficulty in reaching the 3,612-foot summit proved to be a barrier to travelers, and within a few years the hotel was scarcely occupied. Cashup and his wife Mary Ann remained occupants until Mary Ann’s death in 1894, and James’s death in 1896. On the evening of March 11, 1911, the neglected hotel burned to the ground, apparently the result of a teenager mishap with a cigarette.
Seeking a dream to preserve the geologically significant feature for future generations, Virgil McCroskey began a campaign to purchase the butte in the 1930s. After a 10-year struggle, with support from family and local business leaders, McCroskey was able to secure the summit area as a public park. He donated a total of 120 acres to the state of Washington in 1945 and 1946. This “island in the sky” was dedicated as a formal state park on July 4, 1946.
The term "steptoe" has gone on to be used by geologists worldwide to describe an isolated hill or mountain surrounded by lava. Recognizing its national significance, the National Park Service designated Steptoe Butte as a National Natural Landmark in 1965. This Washington State Park Heritage Site offers a unique glimpse into the deep geologic past of Washington state.
The butte summit features an interpretive wayside exhibit. Outdoor displays provide interpretation of the site’s natural history, surrounding and distant landscape features, the Cashup Hotel, which once stood on top of the butte, and the unique story of how this National Natural Landmark became a state park.
The nearest source of supplies is the town of Colfax, 12 miles to the south.
Gazing at the panoramic view is the favorite activity of park visitors.
Free days at state parks
: Visit Washington state parks for free. The Discover Pass is not required to visit a state park on ten designated free days in 2013.
The 2013 State Parks free days are as follows:
Jan. 21 – In honor of Martin Luther King Day
March 30 – In honor of Washington State Parks' 100th birthday on March 19
April 27 and 28 – National Parks Week
June 1 – National Trails Day
June 8 and 9 – National Get Outdoors Day and Department of Fish and Wildlife Free Fishing weekend
Aug. 4 – Peak season free day
Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
Nov. 9 through 11 – Veteran's Day weekend
Please note: A Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during State Parks free days. For more information, please visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov
|Date/time||Event description||State Park|
|Aug. 22 - 25
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
|Painting in the Parks – Palouse Area: Celebrate the centennial of Washington State Parks by painting in the parks. Take a journey through a state park and find artistic inspiration. Then spend the day creating a work in Washington’s great outdoors. From Aug. 22 through 25, participants are welcome to paint at Steptoe Butte and Palouse Falls state parks. A full schedule of Painting in the Parks days is available at www.pleinairwashington.com. Presented by the Plein Air Washington Artists.
Full list of events
at Washington State Parks
Picnic and Day-use Facilities
The park offers seven unsheltered picnic tables and four braziers for cooking, all available on a first-come, first-served basis.
|Mammals||Birds||Fish & Sea Life|
• Deer or Elk
|Physical Features|| ||Plant Life|| |
|The butte is constructed of quartzite and looms over the surrounding terrain. Hawthorne brush abounds in the park, and was widely used by local Indians for the making of medicines, baskets and other essentials.|| ||• Douglas Fir|
• Ponderosa Pine
Park photo gallery