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This waterfall plunges into Ancient Lake from the Columbia Plateau. The steep hiking trail follows along the side of the waterfall and is visible to the left of the falls in this picture. Ancient Lake lies in a coulee that opens to the Columbia River. It has long been an oasis for raptors, coyotes, bats and various other desert dwellers like rattlesnakes, quails and chukars. The coulees potholelakes eventually dried out after the great floods (see below), and are now replenished by agricultural runoff - the surrounding plateau is covered with large-scale, Columbia River-irrigated cropland.
More than 10,000 years ago the Lake Missoula floods created some of the most stunning land forms on earth - studied by NASA for their similarity to Martian landscapes. Much of the eastern half of what is now the state of Washington was scoured down to bedrock by a series of gargantuan flood events, released from an ancient ice-dammed glacial lake that once formed in what is now Montana. The resulting formation of dramatic canyons, coulees, cataracts and flood plains occurred in a mere matter of days, not the millions of years once thought.
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