Seattle Stories and Tips

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls Photo, Seattle, Washington

Snoqualmie Falls is midway between the communities of Snoqualmie and Fall City. It is 25 miles due east of Seattle. The Snoqualmie River cascades 270 feet through a spectacular rock gorge. This falls is supposed to be 100 feet higher than the famous Niagara Falls. And during winter months, the falls can increase in flow to over 36,000 cubic feet per second. Therefore, it is one of Washington State’s most popular scenic attractions. One and a half million visitors tour this attraction.

Snoqualmie Falls is part of an attractive two-acre park. There is an observation platform that is 300 feet above the Snoqualmie River. This offers a gorgeous view of the falls and surrounding area. The water falls 270 feet into a 65-foot-deep pool before continuing on downstream. In addition, there are native trees and shrubs that make the park a great place for having a picnic or taking a walk. Also, benches, picnic tables, drinking fountains and restrooms are all very close. The park also has a gift shop called The Falls Gift Shop. We went in here and saw many souvenirs such as stuff animals, T-shirts, Sweatshirts, puzzles. It also sells candy and soda, which we bought. Lastly, there is the Salish Lodge that is perched on the overlook to the falls. It offers great accommodations, fine dining, and a specialty gift shop.

There are two hydro plants here. These two power plants provide 41, 990 kilowatts of electricity. This is enough energy to service 16,000 average homes. The location of Plant 1 is buried behind the falls in solid rock and has five generators. Through a vertical shaft behind the crest of the falls, water enters the plant. After coming 270-feet down the shaft through two 8-foot pipes and passing through the turbines, it returns to the river through a tunnel about 450-feet long. As a visitor, you can view the tailrace discharge in the rock wall at the foot of the falls. Still today, almost a century after start-up the four original Plant 1 generators are still producing power. And in 1905 a fifth generator was added and then later upgraded in the 1950s. This then caused the total capacity of the plant to have 11, 900 kW.

Snoqualmie’s Plant 1 site is recognized as an historic landmark by both the National Register of Historic Places and the American Society of Civil Engineers because it was the world’s first completely underground electric generating facility.

Concerning the second plant, a 1,215-foot tunnel diverts water to it. It has a generating capacity of 30,090 kW. This tunnel begins above the falls on the north side of the river. It runs through the rock, under the observation platform and continues on the crest of the hill above Plant 2. As a result, the water flows through two pipes and down 515 feet to the two turbines in Plant 2. Then it returns to the river.

After viewing the falls, many people take a walk down the River Trail. It is a one mile round trip hike through trees and open slopes, ending with a wonderful view from the base of the fall, 300 feet below. Also, when you approach the falls, you will travel near one of the Hydro plants here (Plant 2). Then you follow the signs to the wooden walkway that leads to the viewing area. But if you take this hike, you must be prepared for a good uphill workout on the way back to the trailhead. My partner and our friend started to take this hike but said it was too strenuous for them. In addition, they said they spotted a lot of people off to the side trail that were out of breath. Therefore, you should be in pretty decent shape to hike this trail.

I highly recommend this place. This is a great family attraction for everyone. You can view the falls, hike the River Trail, shop at The Falls Gift Shop, learn about the hydro plants, have a picnic on the park’s grounds or stay at the Salish Lodge. In addition, there is free parking and it doesn’t cost anything to enter this park. We rented a car to drive from Seattle to get here. The address is 6501 State Hwy 202, Snoqualmie, WA 98065. It takes about 30 minutes to drive it. To reach the falls, you take Interstate-90 east from Seattle to the Snoqualmie Falls exit (Exit 27). From there, you follow signs taking you through the community of Snoqualmie to the falls. It is open all the time, except when there are services and power plant tours being in effect.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip