Steptoe Butte

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Steptoe Butte State Park
Washington State Park
Steptoe butte.jpg
Steptoe Butte
Map showing the location of Steptoe Butte State Park
Map showing the location of Steptoe Butte State Park
Map showing the location of Steptoe Butte State Park
Map showing the location of Steptoe Butte State Park
LocationWhitman, Washington, United States 3,612 ft (1,101 m)
Coordinates47°01′57″N 117°17′55″W / 47.03250°N 117.29861°W / 47.03250; -117.29861Coordinates: 47°01′57″N 117°17′55″W / 47.03250°N 117.29861°W / 47.03250; -117.29861[1]
Area150 acres (61 ha)
OperatorWashington State Parks and Recreation Commission
WebsiteSteptoe Butte State Park

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.[2] Steptoe Butte and Kamiak Butte comprise Steptoe and Kamiak Buttes National Natural Landmark.[3]


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."[2]

  • 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.[4]


The butte was named after Colonel Edward Steptoe.[2] A hotel built by James S. "Cashup" Davis stood atop the butte from 1888 to 1908, burning down several years after it closed.[5] 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).[2] 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.[6]

Activities and amenities[edit]

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.[2] Popular activities include sight-seeing, paragliding, hang gliding, kite and model airplane flying, and photography.


  1. ^ "Steptoe Butte State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Steptoe Butte State Park". Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  3. ^ "Steptoe and Kamiak Buttes". National Natural Landmarks Program. National Park Service. June 28, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  4. ^ "Colfax - Steptoe Butte". Go Sleep. June 14, 2006. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Johnson, Randall A. (March 19, 2005). "Davis, James S. "Cashup" (1815-1896)". The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. HistoryLink. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  6. ^ "Bellevue couple buy Steptoe Butte portion with aim of preservation". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Wash. October 11, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2018.

External links[edit]