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.
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.
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.
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 from Seattle
Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls by car
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.
Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls by tour
If you don’t have a car, here’s a great tour option for you;
Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls by public bus
You can also take public transport from Seattle. From downtown Seattle take the Transit’s Route 554 bus to the Issaquah Transfer Centre. From there, the Metro Route 208 or 209 towards North Bend, will drop you off a short walk away from the Falls. To check out and plan the route yourself, use this Trip Planner.
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.
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.
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?!)
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.
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.
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.
Next stop, 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.
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.