Twin Sisters – Touchet, Washington - Atlas Obscura

Twin Sisters

Touchet, Washington

Legend says that these tall basalt pillars are the petrified wives of a trickster god. 


Jutting skyward near Washington’s Wallula Gap, the pair of massive basalt columns known as the Twin Sisters are not only a picturesque natural wonder, but according to local legend, they were created by a jealous trickster god.

Science tells us that the Twin Sisters formation is the result of erosion sculpting the two spires between 12-15,000 years ago when the area was pounded by a massive flood. The resulting towers of black stone have since become a popular hiking spot. However, local legend tells a different story of their origin.

According to Native American legend, the pillars were once two of three wives who married the trickster god Coyote. The trio had been trying to catch fish in a fish trap, but the mischievous god deity kept destroying them. Finally, as the women began to starve since they could not catch fish, the coyote agreed to build them a trap if they married him. They agreed, but unfortunately, the deal didn’t work out so hot. Coyote became bored with/jealous of his wives and turned one of them into a cave, and the other two into the Twin Sisters rock formation.

There is a short out-and-back hiking trail 3/4 mile long, that curves up into the hills above the highway and provides additional views of the columns and the Columbia River.

While the formation was created by erosion and not magic, the site is nothing less than enchanting, and well worth a visit from anyone who is interested in either nature or folklore.  

Know Before You Go

Driving Directions from Pasco, WA, drive east on US 12, crossing the Snake River, and continue east to a junction with State Route 730 (found just after crossing the Walla Walla River. Turn right onto SR 730 and continue 2 miles to find the signed pullout parking area at the base of Twin Sisters on the left.

Driving directions from Hermiston/Umatilla, OR. Drive east on Highway 730. As you cross the state line, you will be able to spot the Twin Sisters rocks about one mile away if you keep an eye on the horizon. This will help you anticipate the small parking lot, which is behind a bend and comes up quickly on your right. There is room for about 10 vehicles.

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