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Snoqualmie Falls: Combining Power and Beauty in Washington State

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Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

A short drive from Seattle, Washington, takes one into the lush and verdant countryside. There, Snoqualmie Falls thunders over a high cliff and splashes into a pool of water before proceeding onto a rocky riverbed. The falls provide not only stunning beauty but the power to furnish thousands of homes with electricity.

My mother, niece, and I had already spent some time exploring Seattle's Pike Place Market and other notable sites within the city and had taken a day trip into the country to see the charming Bavarian village of Leavenworth. Now we were on our way to tour the San Juan Islands and then Vancouver, Canada.

Since Snoqualmie Falls was heavily advertised as a wondrous site of natural beauty, we thought that we would stop to see if the falls lived up to its hype.

Snoqualmie Depot

Snoqualmie Depot

Snoqualmie Depot

In the town of Snoqualmie, we happened to spot a building that sparked our interest and decided to check it out. Initially built in 1890, this charming railroad depot of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway still graces the small town of Snoqualmie today. Restoration has kept much of it intact with some modern mandated updates, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Depot is situated in a small, park-like setting within the town of Snoqualmie. One can check out the displays relating to the history of railroads, and it is open most days of the year to the public free of charge.

History of This Area

Native Americans knew of this site long before being discovered by the settlers moving west. Some stories survive to this day regarding the Snoqualmie Falls, and what it means to the native tribes who first called this place home.

The white settler who first recorded visiting the falls in 1849 was a man by the name of Samuel Hancock. A couple of U.S. army personnel first measured the falls in 1853. Passenger trains started transporting people from Seattle to this glorious site beginning in 1889. Legends of its beauty drew more and more people, and it became a growing tourist attraction. Well over a million people annually now visit the Snoqualmie Falls.

The height of this spectacular waterfall in western Washington is about 110 feet taller than the well known Niagara Falls, which borders New York State and Canada.

It was a bright and sunny day when we visited the site. From the parking lot, it is an easy walk and handicap accessible to be able to view the cataract of water rushing over its precipice and falling the 268 feet to the pool below.

According to literature that I picked up, in the late 1800s, daredevil tightrope walkers traversed the river over the falls entertaining an audience below. Dangerous, that kind of risky behavior has not been allowed for a long time.

The Trail Down to the Falls

My niece and I decided to take the trail to get down to Snoqualmie River and be able to view the falls looking back up at it from that perspective. My mother decided to stay up at the top and await our return.

It is about one-half mile down to the river, but it is a steep hike one that changes elevation by around 300 feet. The trail brought us close to the moss-covered trees and other vegetation that clung to the walls of the cliff as we worked our way down to the roaring falls and river. It was beautiful to view. Our reward for the hike can be seen via the following photos.

Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant

Upon reaching the bottom, we got to see an old but still operating hydroelectric power plant built in the year 1898. It was an engineering marvel of the 19th century. This hydroelectric plant furnishes electricity to much of the pacific northwest.

Salish Lodge

After my niece and I climbed back up the steep trail and rejoined my patient mother, we decided to take a look at the historic Salish Lodge that is situated on a bluff overlooking the Snoqualmie Falls.

First built in 1916, it has been rebuilt utilizing the original stone fireplace. It has become a luxury lodging only 30 miles east of Seattle and also offers spa services and fine dining. It was lunchtime, so we decided to dine there. We were well satisfied with our selections.

A son and daughter-in-law of good friends of ours had their wedding reception at the beautiful Salish Lodge some years later after our visit. It would be a beautiful northwest wedding and even a honeymoon location!

My Recommendation

Stopping and exploring Snoqualmie Falls and the lovely Salish Lodge in Washington State just east of Seattle made for a pleasant interlude on our 15-day vacation many years ago. The power and beauty of those tall cascading falls will make for fond memories. If you get a chance to visit there, I would highly recommend it.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Peggy Woods