Travel | United States

Snoqualmie Falls | the best day trip plan from Seattle

The iconic Snoqualmie Falls is one of the first things mentioned in ‘what to see in Seattle’. Today, I’m going to share how you can make a visit to the Snoqualmie Falls, just part of an ultimate day trip plan from Seattle.

As with all things Seattle, it’s incredible to be immersed in this kind of landscape, just 30 minutes from the centre of town. That’s what makes the Snoqualmie Falls such a great day trip.

But there’s so much more to this area, than just the Falls. So stick around, because this is your ultimate guide.

Snoqualmie Falls

At 268 feet, the falls are impressive. The waterflow can vary with the seasons, but whatever the flow, it’s a spectacular sight. At the top, perched almost over the river, is the equally impressive Salish Lodge.

Snoqualmie Falls were already famous in Washington, but became more famous the world over when it featured in the tv series Twin Peaks. Apparently it’s in the opening shot of every show. That has only increased its popularity, and when you visit now, especially on a sunny weekend, expect crowds.

Viewing the Falls

There is a Top Observation Deck, that’s a short walk from the parking lot. You’ll get great views of the top of the falls here, and you’ll be able to get some great photos to remember your day by. Depending on the wind and the flow, you may also get wet. The first time we visited, even without a massive flow, we were getting sprayed with a fine mist standing on the observation deck.

Snoqualmie Falls - the best day trip plan

 

The Snoqualmie Falls Hike

Hike seems a big word to describe the trail at Snoqualmie Falls, although for a little walk it does pack a big punch. Parallel to the parking lot, you’ll see a boardwalk that heads downhill. It’s a short trail (1.4 mile roundtrip), but steep hike down, through beautiful PNW forest. If it weren’t for the crowds, you could feel worlds away from civilisation. You’ll pass moss covered trees (I never tire of these), ferns, salmonberry, vine maple, alder, bigleaf maple, western hemlock, western redcedar and Douglas fir (thanks WTA for that list).

The hike is a great way to introduce people to the beautiful PNW landscape, and hiking. Although it’s steep, you can take your time. It’s a great family friendly day, and you’ll see many also taking their dogs on the walk.

At the bottom of the hill, you’ll reach a boardwalk that goes alongside the river. The base of the falls offers a completely different view of the waterfall, offering you a better perspective on how tall 268 feet really is.

You’ll see people climb over the warning signs onto the rocks beneath for better views of the falls. This is not recommended. There is however, ‘beach’ and river access below, so on a hot day this can be a lovely way to cool off.

Here’s a wee video to give you an idea of the power of the water going over the falls. The flow can differ greatly between seasons, and even days.

There’s also the Puget Sound Energy hydro plant at the river level.

Snoqualmie Falls - lower falls

Salish Lodge

You can’t miss Salish Lodge, it’s the very impressive building that seems to overhang the Falls. In keeping with its special location, it’s a fabulous spot to celebrate a special occasion. Sadly, we didn’t stay at the Lodge, or get to experience their spa, but I’m open to it! (hint hint Salish!)

If you don’t have the time or opportunity to stay, you can get a wee taste of the high life, by popping in to check out the gift shop, or if you have time, go for brunch in The Dining Room, which offers its own spectacular views.

Getting to Snoqualmie Falls Washington

The I-90 heading East is the most direct route from downtown. Take the Snoqualmie Parkway exit, then Railroad Ave. It’s all very well signposted. There are large carparks, the main one is now a paid carpark, but the upper and lower ones are free. These will be busy on weekends.

If you don’t have a car, here’s a great tour option for you;

 

 

Things to do near Snoqualmie Falls

 

 

Visit Snoqualmie Township

The Snoqualmie town is tiny, but oh so cute. It’s a short drive away from the Falls, and definitely one you need to make.

It’s a beautiful little township, with historic buildings, bespoke shops, a railway museum, and views to die for. We lucked in on our first visit there, arriving in the midst of their annual Snoqualmie Railroad Days Festival (held the third weekend in August). I highly recommend timing that if you can.

If you didn’t take the time to eat at Salish Lodge, I’d recommend quenching any thirst or hunger in Snoqualmie. We loved Heirloom, and ‘the fisherman’ couldn’t go past the Snoqualmie Brewery and Taproom.

Heirloom in Snoqualmie

Northwest Railway Museum

If there’s a train geek amongst you, they’ll love the little museum at the Snoqualmie Depot. There’s a great history story to read, and a ton of memorabilia to see and touch.

Snoqualmie Railway

But, even better, there’s also the opportunity to ride one of the old trains. (In fact, if it’s a day the train is running, you can ride it from Snoqualmie to the Falls – that’s a better way to arrive than battling to find a carpark!).

Did I mention they also have a ‘Wine Train’??

Visit North Bend

If you’re a Twin Peaks fan, then you probably want to see and take a photo at Twedes (or Double R Diner), the cafe (I’m told) that features in the show. It’s a short drive to North Bend to see this. (There are also outlet malls at North Bend, not that you’d be interested in those, as there’s so much more to see and do in the area right?!)

Snoqualmie Casino

I’m not really a casino girl, so only drove past the impressive looking building that houses the casino. But it would be remiss of me not to mention that this is an option for you.

Now let’s really make this the Snoqualmie Falls’ ultimate day trip plan

If you’ve enjoyed the trip, have some time, and love cute little towns, and beautiful scenery, I highly recommend you drive back to Seattle via the 203 to Duvall, then across to Woodinville, and back to downtown via the 405 or 5. Scroll on down to read more details why.

 

The 203 is a beautiful highway, you will be spoiled for gorgeous scenery and places to stop, but here are two of my favorites;

Tolt / Carnation

A quick turn off the 203 will take you into the Told MacDonald Park. This 575 acre park is where the Snoqualmie and Tolt Rivers combine. Park in the car park and walk just a few yards to a 500ft suspension bridge over the Snoqualmie River.

Across the other side, you’ll see yurts in amongst the other camping facilities. (Yep, if you’re a WA local, store this info away as a fabulous place to come back and camp.) There are forest and river trails for bikers and hikers to explore to their hearts content.

Tolt - just part of the ultimate day trip to Snoqualmie Falls

The view from the bridge is just a gorgeous place to get lost in the beauty of nature. I was so tempted to jump in and just float away.

But alas, there was more to see and do. Next time.

Duvall

From Tolt, my next recommendation is just 20 miles north along 203. The town of Duvall makes a great stop. The town is full of historic buildings, that house cute shops and eateries. It’s a great place to grab an ice cream and wander.

It’s also the start of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, a 30 mile trail that follows the river from Duvall to North Bend (we came back and did this on another trip).

Plus, just a quick walk from the centre of town, you’ll reach McCormick Park. There is a very popular swimming hole in the park. It has a steep beach that takes you down to the river. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot day, and was a very pleasant surprise.

Duvall’s historic Railway Depot, in Depot Park

Next stop, Woodinville

Woodinville

It’s surprising how few people know that Washington has some great wine regions, and Woodinville is the closest of these to Seattle city (like, just 13 miles!!).

Like all wine regions around the world I’m sure, it’s beautiful countryside. And with 120 wineries to visit, you won’t be touching the surface of them today. But by now, if you’ve followed my itinerary, it’ll be nearing the end of the day, and the perfect time to indulge in a little tasting. And don’t dismiss the area if you’re not a wine drinker, there’s also a whiskey distillery, and breweries to enjoy.

(If you are a wine drinker, you may be interested in exploring the wine regions of Oregon.)

The Chateau ste Michelle is one the largest in Woodinville, and alongside their impressive wine room, you can enjoy a picnic in their grounds, and a range of other experiences, including concerts.

Chateau Ste Michelle Seattle - another recommended stop in your ultimate day trip plan for Snoqualmie Falls

This is another area to bookmark for a day (or overnight) trip all on its own.

Heading back to downtown from here is just around 30 minutes.

So – I bet you didn’t think you’d have this kind of itinerary when you googled Snoqualmie Falls!

Yes, you can pop out and visit just the falls, and be back to downtown in a couple of hours roundtrip. But why not make it an entire fabulous day, exploring some of the best that the Pacific Northwest has to offer?

OR, make a weekend of it. If you want to stay in the area, check out these options.

 

 

I haven’t even begun talking about the hikes that are available around this region!

If you do make the trip, share a photo or what your favourite part was.

In the meantime, pin this post so you know where to head back to when planning the Snoqualmie Falls – ultimate day trip plan.

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42 Comments

  1. Such beautiful falls! I would love to visit when I can visit again

      1. Lekha Chellani says:

        It’s the first I have heard of these falls. Love the passion and details in your post!

  2. Wow. PNW is a picked of the US that I haven’t explored enough! I love the falls and the towns 🙂 also I’d definitely visit the railway museum too! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love Snoqualmie Falls and have visited multiple times growing up in the PNW! So nice to read more about it so I can share with my non-WA friends who come to visit! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’ve never been to this part of the States, but it seems like there is so much to explore in this region! Your photos are beautiful!

  5. I love how much detail you go into. Also, the falls themselves (and surrounding trees) look undeniably beautiful.

  6. This looks like such a great day trip from Seattle! I love waterfalls so I’d definitely be down…and how lovely would it be to stay at that lodge!!

    1. Wouldn’t it just! I’m hoping the Lodge will read my post and offer me a stay!! Would be great to be able to add that in. 🙂

  7. Heather Plummer says:

    Lovely for some of us who will not actually get to visit these fabulous places to ‘armchair travel’ with you, Megan. And even better of course, for those who plan to travel in the future, to be able to rely on good recommendations. Keep enjoying your travelling when the right time comes again.

  8. Very thorough itinerary to visit Snoqualmie Falls and make a whole day trip out of it. Is Salish Lodge the one that used to be featured in Twin Peaks too?

  9. I’ve never been to the Western part of the US but Snoqualmie Falls looks like a place I would love to explore. The waterfall and the surrounding is very pretty. It would be great to hop in a canoe and explore the river too.

    1. There are so many gems to visit and experience in the Western US. Yes, canoeing down the river would also be fab.

  10. I love that you’ve included some different viewpoints of the falls. And it’s always good to know what else is nearby when you’re planning a full day trip!

  11. Snoqualmie Falls look so impressive, I love this kind of day trip where you get to see such beautiful landscapes! If I ever visit Seattle I will make sure to visit Snoqualmie Falls as well!

  12. What a great day trip! I love seeing waterfalls and I also like seeing small towns, thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. Wow, what a great idea for a day trip. I love waterfalls. I think it’s perfect for a family vacation. Thanks!

  14. I love this- so many places to see in the PNW. I love that you make a full day trip out of it- that’s how we like to travel as well 🙂

  15. This sounds like a great way to spend a weekend! I would also be tempted by a brewery.

  16. Wow this place looks absolutely stunning!! Can’t wait to plan a trip someday!!

  17. Oh my gosh! I wish I had known about these when I visited Seattle. Saving this for next time, thanks for this great info on Snoqualmie Falls!

    1. You’re welcome. There are lots more amazing Seattle recommendations on my website as well, for when you do get back there.

  18. I haven’t yet explored the Pacific Northwest, but have always wanted to visit Seattle. Snoqualmie Falls sounds like the perfect place to visit! It looks absolutely stunning 🙂

  19. My sister just moved to Seattle! I plan on visiting these falls now. We are not familiar with the area or even day excursions but this is now top on my list !

  20. I love visiting waterfalls and I’ve never heard of this one before so it’s going on my list! It’s great that there are some other things to do in the area too.

  21. What a stunning waterfall. Definitely looks like a great trip from Seattle!

  22. Despite all my trips to Seattle from Vancouver where I live, I still have not been to these falls yet. Definitely making a point to go when the borders open as I’m getting really into the outdoors over the last year or so and this looks absolutely beautiful

  23. I’ve visited Seattle several times on business but I’ve never visited Snoqualmie Falls – it looks like an incredible day trip! I’ll definitely keep it in mind for my next visit when we can finally get there again after lockdown! The railway museum looks adorable too, my other half would love that! Thanks for the great guide!

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