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Outdoor Recreation

Enjoy the LANDSCAPES AND NATURAL WONDERS of the Walla Walla Valley. the pleasures of local culture and cuisine await.

Named America’s Best Wine Region by USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards in 2020 and 2021, Walla Walla is quickly becoming known among the food and wine communities. But equally as exciting is the outdoor recreation available in, and around, the Valley.

ride on – see walla walla by bike

With incredible scenery, quiet backroads, rolling hills, singletrack options, and easy gravel paths and roads, Walla Walla is an exceptional place to slow down and move through the landscape by bike.

The wheat fields and rolling hills around Bennington Lake offer a great chance to hop on a mountain or gravel bike. The main trails around Bennington Lake offer wide gravel roads, perfect for beginners, or those just looking to enjoy the views from the seat of a bike. For the intrepid, there are also sections of singletrack that twist their way around the banks of the lake.

grasses and forested shores, sunset over Bennington Lake
Bennington Lake at sunset

More of a ‘roadie?’ Fear not, the tarmac and surrounding hills have plenty to offer. A few ‘established’ ride routes offer over 170 miles of riding, with more road to explore. In all, there’s over 500 miles of riding outlined in the Walla Walla Valley Bicycle Map, with great details on the more established routes.

If a more leisurely ride through the countryside is closer to your style, you can bike along the gently sloping and paved Mill Creek Trail, which runs along the Mill Creek watershed through town and up toward Rooks Park and the Bennington Lake area. Don’t forget, a cruiser bike is a great way to explore wineries that are just a bit outside of downtown.

Cruiser bikes, a great way to get around Walla Walla and nearby wineries.
All the fun, none of the hassle

With a couple of great bike shops in town, there’s no need to bring your steed. Allegro Cyclery (note they are closed Sundays) and the Bicycle Barn offer great rental bikes. More info and resources on cycling in the Valley can be found here.

hikes, trails, and more

First on the list is Palouse Falls State Park. Just over an hour drive north of Walla Walla and at 198 feet tall, the cataract is the official waterfall of Washington State. Though not extensive, there are a few trails that offer three distinct views of the falls. The lower viewpoint provides a direct view. The second, at the end of a paved interpretive path, tells the story of the secluded canyon. The third and highest viewpoint, the Fryxell Overlook, offering panoramic views of the falls and Palouse River Canyon.

When heading out to the Falls, be sure to plan ahead. There is limited cell service and no services, so pack food and water.

Palouse Falls
The beauty of Palouse Falls. (Photo credit: William Frohne)

In addition, and a must-see for both hikers and birders is the McNary National Wildlife Refuge. Located 45 minutes west of Walla Walla is this 15,000 acre refuge of sloughs, ponds, streams, and islands. This area provides important habitat to migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds. Few places in North America support such a large concentration of waterfowl.

There are a host of trail options, including a self-guided interpretive trail. Many other trails are highlighted on the Friends of McNary Wildlife Refuge website. You’ll likely find something for every age and ability.

Oh, and the food and drinks

It almost goes without saying – almost – but the food and wine scene in Walla Walla is as diverse as the outdoor recreation opportunities. Grab-n-go options? Yep, Foodscape Walla Walla has picnic packs with curated charcuterie, plenty for two. But maybe get one each if you’ve got a big day planned! The Happy Wanderer’s quick service provides guests convenient options to get you provisioned and on your way. For sit-down meals to end your day, check out our complete list of dining options here.

Last, but not least, the wine! With more than 120 wineries in the Valley, there is sure to be something to please everyone’s palate. The Walla Walla Wine Alliance has all the info you could want to help discover your next favorite winery. Start planning your adventure today!