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Channeled Scablands
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Year - 2018

Scale - 1/2" to the mile(1:126,720)

Topo - Yes(Shaded Contour)

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The Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington may be the state’s least well-known yet most geologically fascinating region. The bizarre and somewhat barren landscape of today was shaped near the end of the last Ice Age (some 13,000 to 15,000 years ago), when an arm of the vast continental glacier that extended into northern Washington formed a natural barrier preventing the Clark Fork River in northern Idaho from emptying into what is now the Columbia River drainage to the west. Behind the ice dam grew massive glacial Lake Missoula, containing more water than present-day Lake Ontario. Eventually the ice dam burst, unleashing a cataclysmic megaflood carrying ten times the volume of water of all the world’s rivers combined. Floodwaters hundreds of feet deep and traveling at speeds of some 60 miles an hour thundered across the landscape and swept away nearly everything in their path, scouring long deep channels (now called ‘coulees’) into the bedrock. The ice barrier and lake gradually re-formed but eventually this dam collapsed as well, unleashing another massive flood that further eroded the landscape. Geologists believe this sequence was repeated more than 40 times over several thousand years before the ice age ended, resulting in the unique landscape now known as the Channeled Scablands.

Today a region of quiet lakes and streams and stark, barren coulees seemingly belies its violent geologic past, but provides some tremendous outdoor opportunities for visitors. Recreation sites offer a diverse ranges of activities including camping, picnicking, wildflower viewing, fishing, hunting, photography, and wildlife and waterfowl viewing. Those interested in more active pursuits have numerous opportunities for horseback riding, hiking, backpacking, or mountain biking. Historic farms and ranches provide a better understanding of the area’s recent past, and the unique landscapes themselves continually fascinate and educate those interested in geology and natural history. Escape the crowds and discover an underappreciated corner of the Pacific Northwest!
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