Snoqualmie Falls

near Issaquah / near Seattle / King County, Washington, USA

Rating: 4     Difficulty: 1
Snoqualmie Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

Snoqualmie Falls was easily the most popular and most visited waterfall that we have visited so far in the state of Washington. However, we think the adjectives spectacular and powerful should also be thrown in there as well. And this was despite the fact that the Puget Sound Power and Light Company managed to divert some of the Snoqualmie River's flow for the purposes of hydroelectricity. So even though this waterfall was in a compromised state, it was still an awesome sight with its gushing year-round flow. We could only imagine how wild this 268ft waterfall must have been during its wilder days before regulation.

Given all these factors, I guess it shouldn't have been surprising that this waterfall was so popular. After all, it was merely a half-hour or so of driving from Seattle to get here (depending on the severity of the traffic). Moreover, we had a pretty easy time checking out the falls from its well-developed walkways and viewing platforms that allowed us to view the falls from above as well as from below. In fact, we even witnessed some road rage as people were competing for limited parking space where one person managed to snag a parking spot right in front of someone who was patiently waiting for the prior occupant to pull out. Indeed, things can get pretty tense when something like this is so popular.

Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge in the late afternoon on a warm Summer's day in 2017 In addition to the obvious upper lookouts near the Salish Lodge, we also went further downstream from the falls where we managed to find a steep-but-well-developed trail that led us to the lower parking lot as well as some hydro infrastructure. There were also a few relics alongside the trail, which the kids loved and the adults loved to use as photo ops. Beyond the hydroelectric facilities, the trail became a boardwalk along the banks of the Snoqualmie River before terminating at a lookout with a direct view towards the base of Snoqualmie Falls.

Meanwhile, the walk between the upper lookouts and the lower lookout was said to be a half-mile in each direction. While the view from here wasn't close enough to be totally bombarded with the spray from the falls, it was noticeably cooler down here. Plus, this different perspective at the river level was certainly worth the exercise and the experience.

In our first visit in 2006, we followed a pretty naturesque trail towards a boardwalk going past some hydroelectric facilities that appeared to still be in use. It was far less crowded and more primitive back then. On our second visit in 2011, the lower area was inaccessible as it was in the midst of some pretty extensive construction to completely make over the facility and public access. When we returned for a third time in 2017, it looked like the work was complete. Even though it still seemed like the lower parts of the Snoqualmie Falls complex remained far less busier than its upper counterparts, it appeared to be better able to handle the increased visitor numbers, and there was even a separate trail leading to river itself for an opportunity to cool off on hot days.

As for the timing during the day to photograph this waterfall, our experience has shown us perhaps morning wouldn't be the best time to visit. That was because the falls was easily shrouded in fog and mist in the morning. Conversely, we happened to be here on at midday on a sunny late August day in 2011 when the sun was right on top of us thereby leaving the gorge darkened by shadows while the gorge rim was washed out in the sunlight. On our third visit in late July 2017, we arrived late in the afternoon where the falls started to become completely shaded by the neighboring cliffs. So given these observations, if it was a sunny day, the best photographic conditions would probably be in the mid-afternoon.

The building at the topleft of Snoqualmie Falls (as shown in the photograph at the top of this page) was the Salish Lodge and Spa. It certainly seemed pretty upscale though we didn't dine and stay there. It did seem to be a pretty popular spot to have weddings, which was definitely the case on our last visit here in 2017. Moreover, something that was interesting was that there was a stream gauge indicator in the lobby area indicating what the flow of the Snoqualmie River was.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

Given the rather close proximity of Snoqualmie Falls to Seattle, it's no wonder why the falls are so popular.  However, if the weather is clear, it's definitely worth going up to Kerry Park for this view of Mt Rainier backing the skyline of SeattleGiven the close proximity of Snoqualmie Falls to Seattle, it's no wonder why the falls are so popular. But if the weather is clear, go up to Kerry Park for this view of Mt Rainier and the city
Seattle is famous for its waterfront where there's the Pike's Market. Here's what it looks like inside the market on a very busy Saturday afternoon in the late SummerSeattle is famous for its waterfront where there's the Pike's Market. Here's what it looks like inside the market on a very busy Saturday afternoon in the late Summer
Nearby the Pikes Market was the waterfront, where there were more activities as well as this view towards Mt Rainier behind the waterfrontNearby the Pikes Market was the waterfront, where there were more activities as well as this view towards Mt Rainier behind the waterfront
Lots of people circling around competing for parking spaces at the upper parking lot across the Hwy 202 from the Salish Lodge on a Saturday afternoon in the Summer of 2017Lots of people circling around competing for parking spaces at the upper parking lot across the Hwy 202 from the Salish Lodge on a Saturday afternoon in the Summer of 2017

Tahia going across the pedestrian footbridge linking the visitor parking lot with the Salish Lodge and the upper viewing decks for the Snoqualmie FallsTahia going across the pedestrian footbridge linking the visitor parking lot with the Salish Lodge and the upper viewing decks for the falls

Looking down towards the parking lot immediately in front of the Salish Lodge from the pedestrian footbridgeLooking down towards the parking lot immediately in front of the Salish Lodge from the pedestrian footbridge

Sign indicating the car park hoursSign indicating the car park hours

A stream gauge indicator from within Salish LodgeA stream gauge indicator from within Salish Lodge. This lets you know the flow rate of the Snoqualmie River.

Approaching the very crowded upper viewing decks for the Snoqualmie Falls on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of SummerApproaching the very crowded upper viewing decks for the falls on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of Summer

A close-up view of Snoqualmie Falls in 2017A close-up view of the falls under a warm and sunny afternoon in 2017

A close-up view of Snoqualmie Falls in 2011A close-up view of the falls under a warm and sunny day in 2011

Snoqualmie Falls in its foggy state when we showed up early in the morningSnoqualmie Falls in its foggy state when we showed up early in the morning in May 2006

Snoqualmie Falls in high flow when things started clearing up a bit that morning in May 2006Snoqualmie Falls in high flow when things started clearing up a bit that morning in May 2006

Snoqualmie Falls in late morning around Memorial Day 2006 under the typical overcast and drizzly weather that seemed to be the norm around hereSnoqualmie Falls in late morning around Memorial Day 2006 under the typical overcast and drizzly weather that seemed to be the norm around here

Julie and Tahia looking for the newly renovated trail leading to the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls during our most recent visit in 2017Julie and Tahia looking for the newly renovated trail leading to the bottom of the falls during our most recent visit in 2017

Looking along power lines cutting across the trail leading to the bottom of Snoqualmie FallsLooking along power lines cutting across the trail leading to the bottom of the falls

The trail to the bottom was more like a typical trail though it did thin out the crowds somewhat as some people weren't up for the hilly half-mile hike in each directionThe trail to the bottom was more like a typical trail though it did thin out the crowds somewhat as some people weren't up for the hilly half-mile hike in each direction

There were a few hydroelectric relics put alongside the lower trail to educate visitors on what it took to harness the power of flowing water to create electricityThere were a few hydroelectric relics put alongside the lower trail to educate visitors on what it took to harness the power of flowing water to create electricity

The lower trail passed before this imposing diversion pipe heading right towards a building to the right of the trailThe lower trail passed before this imposing diversion pipe heading right towards a building to the right of the trail

Beyond the diversion pipes, we then descended a few more steps while skirting by this buildingBeyond the diversion pipes, we then descended a few more steps while skirting by this building

Then, the lower trail followed along this boardwalk towards the view of the base of Snoqualmie FallsThen, the lower trail followed along this boardwalk towards the view of the base of the falls

Finally making it to the rather crowded lower lookout for Snoqualmie FallsFinally making it to the rather crowded lower lookout for Snoqualmie Falls

This was how the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls looked like in the Summer of 2017This was how the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls looked like in the Summer of 2017

This was how the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls looked like on Memorial Day Weekend in 2006This was how the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls looked like on Memorial Day Weekend in 2006

Tahia heading back along the boardwalk towards the lower parking lotTahia heading back along the boardwalk towards the lower parking lot

Looking towards the waiting area at the lower parking lotLooking towards the waiting area at the lower parking lot

Looking back at the lower parking lot where there were still a handful of parking spacesLooking back at the lower parking lot where there were still a handful of parking spaces


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


360 degree sweep from the familiar crowded overlook for the Snoqualmie Falls


Brief semi-circular sweep showing the base of Snoqualmie Falls and the contex of the lookout


Right to left sweep of the falls in high flow (2011) starting downstream then ending at the falls with a little zoom-in action for a closer look


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

As mentioned earlier, it's about a half-hour's drive east of downtown Seattle to the falls (hopefully there's not too much traffic en route). The approach we took was to take the I-90 east past Issaquah and eventually towards the ramp for Snoqualmie Parkway / Hwy 18 (Snoqualmie Falls is well-signed).

We then followed this road for the next couple of miles before turning left at the three-way intersection with 1st Ave SE (Hwy 202). Once there, it's just a short distance further past one intersection to the Salish Lodge car park on the left or the visitor parking on the right.

If you're parking at the visitor lot, you don't need to cross the road as there's a sheltered pedestrian bridge traversing over Hwy 202. One time we didn't notice the pedestrian bridge and actually did that, which we wouldn't recommend given the rather high rate of traffic on the Hwy 202.

Traffic on the I-90 as we were approaching the suburb of Issaquah from Seattle Another thing we noticed was that if it gets too hectic at the main parking area across the street from the Salish Lodge, it was also possible to continue driving further west on the Hwy 202 for about 1.6 miles before turning left onto 372nd Ave SE. Then, continue driving on the side road for the next quarter-mile before keeping left onto SE Fish Hatchery Rd and driving the remaining half-mile to the Lower Parking Lot for Snoqualmie Falls. During our visit, we noticed quite a few open parking spaces while people were stressing out competing for limited spaces at the Upper Parking Lot. The only drawback to parking down here was the uphill hike to reach the upper overlooks, but if you're planning to visit both overlooks regardless, then it really doesn't matter which lot you park at.

Finally for some geographical context, Seattle was 173 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Portland, Oregon, 143 miles (about 2.5 hours drive not counting border crossing delays) south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and 1,137 miles (17 hours drive) north of Los Angeles, California.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Name of Waterfalls (Snoqualmie Falls) 
Do you know the name of the waterfalls in this picture? Thanks & Regards Linde

Snoqualmie Falls 
Hi, I went to Seattle during 2002 along with my wife to visit my son working for Tata Consultancy Services, at Seattle. I was 58 years old during …

Click here to write your own.



[Back to top]

[Go to the Washington Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Pacific Northwest Page]


[Return from Snoqualmie Falls to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]