Snoqualmie Falls

on a Smokey, Autumnal Day

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Steve in Seattle • Tags: waterfallssacred placesforest firesTwin Peaks • Places: Snoqualmie Falls


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Snoqualmie Falls is among the most iconic waterfalls in Washington State.

I had come close to visiting them earlier in the year, during an ill-fated paddle just downstream from the falls.

I hadn't realized that my paddle had a loose screw, and its two halves could rotate independently, so I was pinned against a rock and had to bail. My supposedly waterproof cellphone did not survive. Meanwhile, my companion had forgotten to wear shoes, and missed our get out point. So, I wound up going on a rather long walk, eventually catching a lift in the bed of a pickup truck.

Rather naturally, I failed to recognize the small turn off to the fishery where my car was parked, and my helpers actually did wind up making a u-turn at the Upper Falls parking lot, so that they could bring me to the right spot.

Strangely, given the above happenings, I was okay skipping on seeing the falls that day. But, I was eager to eventually check them out.

A good opportunity came when Spencer and I had some time to kill after hiking the May Valley Loop. So, the falls were where we headed!


Background

According to the Snoqualmie people, the creation of the falls was the first step in the creation of Western Washington and its native peoples.

Moon said, "You, Waterfall, shall be a lofty cataract. Birds flying over you will fall, and people shall gather them up and eat them. Deer coming down the stream will perish and the people shall have them for food. Game of every kind shall be found by the people for the subsistence."

After he changed everything, Moon created the rivers and the tribes of what is now Western Washington. He placed a man and a woman in every valley and provided fish and wild game for them. These people multiplied, becoming the Puget Sound tribes.

-- Excerpt from signage, attributed to Snoqualmie Charlie as recorded by anthropologist Arthur C. Ballard in the early 1800s.

From then onwards, the falls had an important role in Snoqualmie life, and were used as a burial ground.

Eventually, settlers arrived in the area, starting in the early 1850's. Not long after, they became the location of the world's first fully underground hydroelectric power plant, constructed in the 1890s, and providing clean energy since then. A small reservoir atop the falls is diverted to two powerhouses.

In 1916, a small hotel and restaurant was built at the top of the falls, remodeled and reopened in 1986 as the Salish Lodge. It served as "The Great Northern Hotel" in David Lynch's seminal Twin Peaks, making its image, if not its name known to legions of viewers.

The lodge and falls were purchased by the Muckleshoot Tribe in 2007. and eventually sold to the Snoqualmie Tribe in 2019.


Visit

There's ample free parking above the falls, a few overlooks, and a beautiful 0.7 mile walkway leading from above the falls to their base.

The area was popular, but stunning. I'll let these photos speak for themselves.


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A cross-section of pipe from the old plant for visitors to walk through
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