Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge
Romance and History at Snoqualmie Falls
Like most people, I enjoy the sights and sounds of a beautiful waterfall. There is something calming and relaxing about watching and listening to a cascade of water. With a vertical drop of about 270 feet, the power and beauty of Snoqualmie Falls makes it a popular attraction and the most visited waterfall in Washington State.
I recently attended a wedding at Salish Lodge, which is perched on a cliff overlooking the falls. Although I had been to the falls many times in the past, it had been a decade or more since my last visit and I was reminded of the reason why this lovely waterfall and rustic lodge is often named as the most romantic place in the Seattle area.
The falls always bring back memories of fishing trips with my dad in the 1950s and 1960s. The falls have always been a popular attraction, but back then they were on the edge of the forest on a country road and it took about two hours to get there from our home in Seattle. In those times the restaurant and hotel were called the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge.
In the many decades since those fishing expeditions with my dad, I-90 was built, urban sprawl has brought civilization much closer and today Snoqualmie Falls is less than an hour drive from Seattle. The lodge has since been updated and although the original rustic craftsman style design has been retained, it was enlarged and renamed the Salish Lodge and Spa. As you will see from the photos taken at my recent visit, this is a lovely place to spend a summer day.
All photos by the author, Vicki Green, unless otherwise noted
Where is Snoqualmie Falls?
Snoqualmie Falls in the 1950s and 1960s
Snoqualmie Falls Lodge
The photo above is the way the falls and lodge looked back in the 1950s and 1960s when my dad used to take me with him to some of his favorite fishing spots along the river and at nearby Hancock and Calligan Lakes. A few times we stopped and ate breakfast at the lodge that in those days was called Snoqualmie Falls Lodge. The restaurant was well-known locally for its wonderful "farm breakfasts", especially the pancakes served with "sky high" honey .Servers dramatically streamed the honey onto pancakes and waffles from a couple of feet above the plate in a display that sort of mimicked the waterfall.
These Breakfast Club cards were given away at the old Snoqualmie Falls Lodge.
A Collectors Item from Snoqualmie Falls Lodge - A Snoqualmie Breakfast Club Card
My family had some of these souvenir Snoqualmie Breakfast Club Cards but sadly they were probably thrown away years ago.
Snoqualmie Falls Pancake Mix
Enjoy a Farm Breakfast at Home
This is is the pancake mix that was created from the old Snoqualmie Lodge recipe. Seriously, it is the best pancake mix I have ever tried. The pancakes are light and fluffy and taste delicious. I like both the regular and the Nutra Rich and it is the only brand of pancake mix I use. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I can find it at my local grocery store, but if you can't buy it at a store near you, it is available for sale online.
Snoqualmie Falls in 1909
The History of Snoqualmie Falls
The power and beauty of Snoqualmie Falls made it a sacred gathering place for the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest and it has continued to attract people from all over the world. The pioneers and early settlers of European ancestry discovered the falls in the mid 1800s and at that time it took an arduous 2 week journey from Seattle to see them.
In 1890 the adventure was made much faster and easier when a railroad line was completed to the station on the south side of the falls. A trip to the falls became a popular excursion and the Snoqualmie Hotel was built near the train station.
A Film About the History of Snoqualmie Falls
Hydroelectric Power and the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge
In 1899, Charles Baker completed the first entirely underground hydroelectric plant in the United States at the falls. It was considered to be a technological marvel at the time. The power plant has recently been re-engineered, but the original turbines were in service for over 100 years.
In 1919 the Sunset Highway was built making travel to the north side of the falls by automobile possible. That same year the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge opened for business with a restaurant and inn for overnight guests.
Over the years the lodge was enlarged and updated several times, but the biggest change came in 1988 when a 14 million dollar remodel was completed. The lodge was increased in size to 91 rooms and renamed Salish Lodge and Spa.
A Virtual Tour of the Snoqualmie Falls Hydro Plant
About Snoqualmie Falls Park
The recently renovated park features beautiful gardens, walkways and interpretive signs with information about the history of the falls. There are several different viewpoints to observe the falls from several levels along with benches to stop, relax and enjoy the scenery. The trail leading to the bottom of the falls is being upgraded and is currently closed while under construction. The park and several parking lots are owned and maintained by Puget Sound Energy for the free use and enjoyment of the public. Open from dawn until dusk, the park allows leashed pets and has several clean-up bag dispensers. The park is wheelchair accessible, but due to the popularity of the park, some of the parking lots are a fairly long distance away.
Snoqualmie Falls Park - Gardens, Walkways and Viewpoints
Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge
Snoqualmie Falls Refurbishment Project
The above photo shows how the falls looked in 2013 from one of the vantage points in the park. The park and hydroelectric plant have both undergone a massive refurbishment. The power plant now produces more power more efficiently and the park has been updated to enhance the experience for visitors including many interpretive signs. The new landscaping features native plants to improve the habitat for wildlife.
The Entrance to Salish Lodge and Spa
Salish Lodge - A Romantic Hotel
Salish Lodge and Spa is consistently rated as of the most luxurious and romantic hotels in the Seattle area. I have had the good fortune to stay there once on a romantic getaway several years ago and I must agree that it was a wonderful experience. Many rooms have a fantastic view of the falls and come with equipped with a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub.
Looking Down at the 270 foot drop
A Romantic Wedding Location
Weddings at Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is a popular place for romance and weddings. There are numerous picturesque places for spectacular photos and for the actual ceremony including several rooms inside Salish Lodge, outdoors overlooking the falls at the lodge, in the park or even at the base of the falls.
The Salish Restaurant
Enjoying a Meal at Salish Lodge
The entrance to the restaurant at Salish Lodge can be found at the "Dining Room" sign. There are many tables next to the windows that enjoy a lovely view of the falls. The restaurant features a Pacific Northwest cuisine featuring local produce, meat and seafood. The lodge has its own herb garden and the "heavenly honey" served is from beehives located on the property.
Snoqualmie Falls With the Snoqualmie River at Flood Stage
Souvenirs of Snoqualmie Falls
The Ever-Changing Snoqualmie Waterfall
Naturally the volume of water cascading over the falls fluctuates with the season. It is the most dramatic when the Snoqualmie River floods. The volume of water is also heavy in the spring as the snow melts in the surrounding peaks and the run-off makes its way to the river. Even in the summer when the flow of water is less, the spray from the falls is carried up to the top of the cliff and beyond often creating a beautiful rainbow.
Twede's in Northbend, WA - The Double R Diner
Twin Peaks Double-R Diner
Snoqualmie Falls was already a popular Seattle area attraction in 1990 when the Twin Peaks TV series began its 2 year run. The short-lived show was followed by a movie and has a world-wide following of devoted fans. Recently it was announced that season 3 of the TV series will be filmed and can be viewed on Showtime.
The setting of the series was the fictional town of Twin Peaks, WA and the opening credits ran with film of the falls in the background. The scenes were shot at various locations at the falls, Salish Lodge, along the Snoqualmie River, and at the nearby towns of North Bend, Snoqualmie and Fall City.
The scenes from the show's famous Double-R Diner were actually filmed in the Mar-T Cafe in North Bend, WA. The cafe is currently called Twede's (prounounced Twee-dees) Cafe where visitors from around the world come to have "a piece of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee".
Twin Peaks TV Series
Twin Peaks was an unusual TV series that combined features of both a murder mystery and soap opera that was set in the fictional Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks. The television show only lasted two seasons - 1990 and 1991 but it has devoted fans that have given it cult status.