Snoqualmie Falls is a captivating natural wonder in the picturesque state of Washington. It’s a popular tourist attraction, drawing over a million visitors annually. In fact, it’s the second-most famous natural wonder in the state – after Mount Rainier. But what can you expect when visiting this magical site, and what are some tips to help you make the most of your excursion?
Tips for planning a visit to Snoqualmie Falls include considering how to get there, the best time to visit, and ensuring you stay warm, dry, and safe. Given its popularity and free entry, visitors should anticipate crowds and possible queues at the facilities.
Now, crowds and queues may deter nature lovers seeking a tranquil breakaway but don’t discount Snoqualmie Falls for that reason alone! The 268-foot falls have a fascinating history, including a bit of limelight from a well-known television series. Moreover, the pathways around the falls are fully accessible to visitors on wheels, so anyone can marvel at this natural wonder.
Practical Tips for Your Visit to Snoqualmie Falls
Whether planning a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls or adding it as an item to your itinerary, it’s an excellent idea to plan ahead. Doing so can save you time, money, and stress, allowing you the freedom to enjoy it as much as possible.
1. Planning Your Trip
The following practical tips will help you plan for your excursion and get the most from your trip:
The Best Time to Visit the Falls
Snoqualmie Falls are stunning year-round, but the volume of water in the river and falls varies with the seasons. For instance, the falls are usually more impressive in spring and early summer after the snowmelt, measuring up to 100 feet wide.
During fall, the waterfall’s width could be half its peak flow width, but the foliage in the air can be magical.
What to Wear
Washing weather is known for its unpredictability, so it’s a good idea to prepare accordingly. Pack layers of clothing to accommodate changing conditions, including rainwear and waterproof footwear.
Other Items to Pack
Aside from suitable clothing and footwear, here is a list of other items you can consider packing:
- Drinking water
- A waterproof backpack and zip-lock baggies to keep your phone and camera dry
- A hat or cap
Where to Stay
Snoqualmie Falls is near several charming towns, each offering a range of accommodation options. For example, Snoqualmie and North Bend have cozy bed-and-breakfasts and upscale resorts. Alternatively, consider camping in North Bend or Fall City.
Permits, Fees, and Other Costs
Currently, gaining entrance to Snoqualmie Falls and the parking lots is free of charge. To be safe, it’s a good idea to check for any updates on permits or fees before you visit and carry some cash or cards to pay for snacks or trinkets.
2. Getting to Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is 29.8 miles from Seattle on the I-90 E. The coordinates for the falls are 47.5417° N, 121.8377° W. There are three popular ways to get to the falls (apart from trekking or cycling); they include traveling by bus, taxi, and car:
The cheapest way between Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls is to travel by bus. About 52 buses travel the route weekly, and the journey lasts just over two hours, with an hour-long layover. You can expect to pay between $4 and $6 one way.
- Departure from Seattle: S Jackson St & Maynard Ave S
- Arrival at Snoqualmie: Railroad Ave SE & Snoqualmie Pkwy
- Bus operators: Sound Transit and King County Metro
Traveling from Seattle to Snoqualmie by taxi is the most expensive option. You can anticipate paying between $90 and $110 taxi fare for a 35-minute drive.
Driving by car should take about 35 minutes and will cost up to $8. Whether renting a car or driving your own, this option offers you the most flexibility and fewer time constraints.
3. Exploring Snoqualmie Falls
Once you’re at Snoqualmie Falls, you can immerse yourself in its beauty in several ways:
Use the Viewing Platforms
The two viewing platforms at the falls are strategically placed to offer spectacular vistas of the falls. Each platform is a short distance from the respective parking lots and is readily accessible to visitors walking or on wheels. There’s an upper and a lower viewing deck, plus a trail joining the two. However, you can avoid traversing the steep walkway if you don’t have the inclination.
Take a Stroll on the Hiking Trails
For a more immersive experience, explore the hiking trails around the falls. These trails meander through the lush greenery and foliage, providing opportunities to spot the indigenous flora and fauna and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
Explore the Visitor Center
The Snoqualmie Falls Visitor Center contains a wealth of information regarding the geology, history, and cultural significance of the falls. Additionally, the knowledgeable staff can answer your questions and provide valuable insights about the falls.
4. Safety Tips when Visiting Snoqualmie Falls
While visiting these stunning falls, it’s still essential to consider and prioritize safety to ensure a pleasant and incident-free experience. The following safety tips apply:
Stay on the Marked Paths
Aside from improving accessibility, the paths at Snoqualmie Falls are meant to keep visitors and the delicate ecosystem safe. Always stick to the designated paths and trails, as venturing off-trail could result in you slipping or damaging the plants or even some critters.
You may think you’re one person and it won’t make a difference to divert from a marked trail. But if 1.5 million people think it’s okay to deviate from the trail each year, it will surely cause damage and ruin the natural beauty of the park.
Washington State is home to all sorts of wildlife. It is better to admire animals from a safe distance and avoid feeding them, as this could disrupt their natural behavior and become problematic to manage.
Be cautious Near the Water
While the walkways at Snoqualmie have rails, it’s still wise to practice caution around water. The area around the falls can be slippery – especially after rainfall or from the mist emanating from tumbling water. You should heed warning signs and exercise caution when approaching the water’s edge.
Keep Your Belongings Out of Sight
Some parks and public spaces around Seattle attract opportunistic thieves who help themselves to your belongings. Seattle Parks recommends all extra goods in your car be placed in your trunk before you park your car at one of their parks. Doing so can help reduce the temptation of theft.
Keep Pets on a Leash
You’re allowed to take your dog with you to Snoqualmie Falls, provided you keep it on a leash. Additionally, you’re asked to pick up after your dog should it poop, and dispose of the waste appropriately.
Activities and Adventures Around Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is surrounded by other attractions worth exploring. Consider incorporating them into your visit to the falls and area to enrich the overall experience of your trip. Here are some suggestions:
Snoqualmie Train Adventure
Visit the Northwest Railway Museum for a fascinating look at the history of trains in the area. They have various displays, including a model train set, plus you can enjoy a ride on a real old-fashioned steam train!
If you’re feeling lucky, the Snoqualmie Casino offers gambling, gaming, entertainment, and dining options for an afternoon or night of fun.
Snoqualmie Falls Brewery and Taproom
This local brewery offers locally brewed beers and delicious cuisine. Additionally, they often feature live music performances and a vibrant atmosphere.
If you fancy some kayaking and a picnic close to the water’s edge, take a short drive to Rattlesnake Lake. There you can enjoy relaxing by the water and exploring the lake and its beautiful scenery.
Quick Facts about Snoqualmie Falls
We’ve covered some practical tips for visiting this exciting waterfall, but here are some interesting facts about it so you can appreciate it more:
- The waterfall is 238 feet tall and is believed to be 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls.
- The falls were formed around 40,000 years ago during the last ice age. The impressive and steep formation of the granite rocks is attributed to glacial activity. Additionally, geologists have found volcanic breccia and petrified trees in the rock formations, exposed by gradual water erosion.
- Snoqualmie Falls is considered a sacred site, holding significant spiritual and cultural significance for the Native American Snoqualmie Tribe.
- The falls can reach a flow rate of up to 20,000 cubic feet per second, showcasing its power.
- The trail around the falls is 1.42 miles (return) and has an elevation gain of 331 feet. It takes, on average, 45 minutes to walk the trail.
- Snoqualmie Falls has been used for hydroelectric power generation since the early 20th century. Puget Sound operates the hydroelectric plant, which supplies power to thousands of homes.
- The waterfalls gained international recognition as the filming site for the iconic television series Twin Peaks.
A visit to Snoqualmie Falls is more than just a sightseeing trip; it’s a soul-soothing experience that connects you with the raw power and tranquility of nature. You can make the most of your visit to this natural wonder by planning your trip thoughtfully, respecting the environment, and exploring the nearby attractions and towns.
So, pack your bags and embark on this short but mesmerizing journey; it’s sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart and mind.