Columbia Plateau

Range TypeHighland or plateau
Highest PointSacajawea Peak (9838 ft/2999 m)
CountriesUnited States
States/ProvincesOregon (54%), Washington (34%), Idaho (12%)
(numbers are approximate percentage of range area)
Area64,401 sq mi / 166,800 sq km
Area may include lowland areas
Extent340 mi / 548 km North-South
270 mi / 435 km East-West
Center Lat/Long45° 41' N; 118° 46' W
Map LinkMicrosoft Bing Map

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The Columbia Plateau is the huge, parched expanse covering Washington, Oregon, and Idaho between the Cascade Range to the west and Idaho's Rockies to the east. To the north the boundary is the Columbia River and the projections of the Columbia Mountains south into the U.S. from Canada, while to the south the border is very indistinct as the Columbia Plateau merges with the Great Basin.

The association between the Pacific Northwest and rain is so strong that few realize that inland from the soaked Cascades the country becomes almost reminiscent of Arizona, with large dry canyons, sagebrush flats, and hot sun. People from Seattle and Portland call the interior the "dry side" and with good reason.

The mountains of the Columbia Plateau are therefore more like those of the Rockies or Great Basin than the Cascades, characterized by sparse forests, generally open terrain, good weather, no glaciers, and long, dusty access roads.

This area is not noted for its mountains, but the Blue and the Wallowa Mountains hold excellent mountain scenery and are among the best-kept secrets in the west.

Map of Columbia Plateau
Click on red triangle icons for links to other ranges.

Note: Range borders shown on map are an approximation and are not authoritative.
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Other Ranges: To go to pages for other ranges either click on the map above, or on range names in the hierarchy snapshot below, which show the parent, siblings, and children of the Columbia Plateau.
Intermountain WestLevel 2 (Parent)
         British Columbia InteriorLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Columbia MountainsLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Columbia PlateauLevel 3
                 North Columbia PlateauLevel 4 (Child)
                 Blue MountainsLevel 4 (Child)
                 Wallowa MountainsLevel 4 (Child)
                 Western Idaho RangesLevel 4 (Child)
                 South Columbia PlateauLevel 4 (Child)
         Great Basin RangesLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Colorado PlateauLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Southwest Basins and RangesLevel 3 (Sibling)

Major Peaks of the Columbia Plateau

Ten Highest Peaks
RankPeak NameftmRange4
1.Sacajawea Peak98382999Wallowa Mountains
2.Matterhorn98262995Wallowa Mountains
3.Hurwal Divide97762980Wallowa Mountains
4.Sacajawea-Matterhorn Ridge97752979Wallowa Mountains
5.Aneroid Mountain97022957Wallowa Mountains
6.Petes Point96752949Wallowa Mountains
7.Twin Peaks96732948Wallowa Mountains
8.Chief Joseph Mountain96162931Wallowa Mountains
9.Hurricane Divide North9600+2926+Wallowa Mountains
10.Eagle Cap95722918Wallowa Mountains
Sub-peaks are excluded from this list. List may not be complete, since only summits in the PBC Database are included.
Child Range High Points
RankPeak NameftmRange4
1.Sacajawea Peak98382999Wallowa Mountains
2.She Devil9400+2865+Western Idaho Ranges
3.Rock Creek Butte91062776Blue Mountains
4.Strawberry Mountain9040+2755+South Columbia Plateau
5.Indian Rock58451782North Columbia Plateau

Photos of Peaks in the Columbia Plateau

Sacajawea Peak

Sacajawea Peak is the far away dark hump at left in this view from the Matterhorn (1995-09-16).
Snowbank Mountain
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Snowbank Mountain from the south. The radar dome on the left is on a slightly lower summit than the lookouot and high point on the right (2008-06-20). Photo by Ken Jones.
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Ironside Mountain
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Ironside Mountain (on the right, left summit is highest) from the approach road (2008-06-19). Photo by Ken Jones.
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Pine Mountain
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Pine Mountain, Oregon (2014-04-17). Photo by oregon mt. goat.
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Steptoe Butte
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Steptoe Butte rises alone from the surrounding low hills of the Palouse (2012-08-11).
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Sherman County High Point
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Sherman County Highpoint on a summer's day (2014-08-22). Photo by Laura Newman.
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