Pipestone Canyon was formed millions of years ago. It is one of Washington’s most unusual and natural phenomenons. The odd caps at the tops of its columns are called “hoodoos.” The hoodoos, fantastic natural rock shapes, can be seen a few miles southeast of Winthrop, Washington.
Legends have boasted stories of Indians having located some rock in the canyon, ideal for making pipes. The natives would stick the stem of a rose thorn plant into the pipes and smoke them. A cave in the east wall near the northern entrance was apparently used for making these clay pipes, several having been found in the cave. This spot was probably the only place in the hard rocked walls of the canyon where softer clay could be found. It was this clay that was used to fabricate the pipes. Early Indians, possibly from the Stone Age, may have visited the canyon and camped there during the winter.
Fossil hunters can often be seen digging in an open area 500 feet or more above the canyon floor. Fossils are abundant and can be discovered in most sections of the canyon walls. The discovery of leafy plants indicates that while the area was not truly tropical many centuries ago, it was quite warm.
Pipestone Canyon is relatively short, about 2 ½ miles in length. It makes up for its short length in the weird shapes that simulate medieval castle walls and turrets. Canyon walls reach heights in excess of 1,500 feet, which give sightseers a breath-taking view.
Follow the Upper Bear Creek Road until the pavement ends. Turn off onto Lester Road and stay to your right following Lester Road to the turn off to Campbell Lake. Follow Lester Road for 2.3 miles and then turn right onto Campbell Lake Road. Stay on this dirt road for 1.3 miles until you come to the Pipestone Canyon gate.
From the gated entrance to Pipestone Canyon, just south of Campbell Lake, is a large boulder field. Boom Towns & Relic Hunter’s “Geo Relic Treasure Cache” is hidden somewhere amongst these huge rocks. Our geo-cache treasure will be several feet off the trail to the east.
WARNING: During the summer rattlesnakes are abundant in Pipestone Canyon.
N48° 26.269' W120° 03.780'
UTM 10U 0717216E 5369132N
Map Datum WGS84
Location: Winthrop, Washington 98862