Snoqualmie Falls

Old Apr 18th, 2021, 01:18 PM
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Snoqualmie Falls

With a main goal of viewing Snoqualmie Falls in early June, and perhaps having lunch on the patio of the Salish Inn, We plan to leave Seattle via route 90 to Fall City and then head back toward Tacoma for the next few nights. We'd like to catch a few more natural sights on our drive toward Tacoma. What route is suggested and what scenic places might we enjoy that wouldn't get us too far off the beaten track? Is that stretch of route 18 beneath Tiger Mountain State Forest an easy drive or is it a tricky drive, as in high, narrow places with no guard rails? Is it scenic? Thanks for all advice.
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Old Apr 19th, 2021, 07:32 AM
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SR 18 from I-90 to Tacoma is a very busy, mostly 4-lane highway that carries a great deal of truck traffic. It's not especially scenic - not terrible but nothing to write home about. Your attention is best directed to the other vehicles - lots of them.

If I may let me recommend an alternative route for your day. Here's a map - https://goo.gl/maps/oyUgHLjbaqrZQTCP6 .

This starts by heading north from Seattle around the top of Lake Washington to the old town of Monroe on US 2, then south along WA SR 203 through the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley. Shortly after the pleasant town of Duvall, you'd cross to the west side of the valley to visit the (original) Carnation Farm, which is very pretty and which offers a farm stand and various food options.



You'd rejoin SR 203 near the town of Carnation. Just south of the old town you could turn east for a short distance to Remlinger Farms, something of a landmark that offers a big farm market, cafes, "U-pick" produce and flowers (depending on the season) and various distractions.

Continuing south, the road travels through scenic rural country to Fall City, where SR 203 merges with SR 202 and climbs up the hill to the falls and the Salish Lodge. Right after the falls, SR 202 passes by the storage area for a large number of old railroad cars and locomotives, part of the interesting Snoqualmie Valley Railroad Museum's collection. The town of Snoqualmie itself is quite picturesque, then, if you need a piece of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee, you can visit Twede's Cafe in "downtown" North Bend, famous (?) for its many appearances in the TV show Twin Peaks, which was filmed in the area. From there it's up on to SR 18 for the rapid ride to Tacoma.

If it's of any interest, there's a modest sized outlet mall next to I-90 in North Bend, also a big Snoqualmie tribal casino and several wineries are in the area.
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Old Apr 19th, 2021, 08:32 AM
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Thanks, gardyloo. I will take a look on the map for that route from Seattle. It's good to know about route 18. We had considered, after viewing the falls, returning to Issaquah for the night. Would any of the routes from Issaquah to Tacoma give us a more scenic ride?
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Old Apr 19th, 2021, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by meggies View Post
Would any of the routes from Issaquah to Tacoma give us a more scenic ride?
Not especially - mostly suburban sprawl.

Could you give me more details of your time in the area? The reason for asking is that Snoqualmie Falls is a very easy half-day trip (or even less) from Seattle, and if you were interested on a much more scenic and interesting route from Seattle to Tacoma, I'd have a look at going via Vashon Island. Here's another map - https://goo.gl/maps/9GyzhQALitURYR7VA - that shows the route, which is somewhat modified from the "normal" because of road closures and construction that might not apply by the time you travel.

Vashon is very pretty and rural, and places like the Point Robinson lighthouse can offer terrific views of the Sound, Mt. Rainier etc. You pay for the ferry from Seattle but not from Vashon over to Point Defiance in Tacoma. The Seattle - Vashon ferry leaves from the Fauntleroy terminal in West Settle, reached for the time being via some surface roads owing to the main bridge to West Seattle being closed while long-term refurbishment is studied.

Here are a couple of views from Point Robinson -





...and from the Point Defiance area back to downtown Tacoma and Mt. Rainier beyond. Note Rainier's native name is "Tahoma," from which the city derived its name.



Last edited by Gardyloo; Apr 19th, 2021 at 10:53 AM.
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Old Apr 20th, 2021, 02:00 PM
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Gardyloo, we will be staying with family for a few days in Gig Harbor, so may take a daytrip to Vashon from there. It sounds like we should. DH and I have seen Snoqualmie Falls on a previous trip, but our daughter, who will be traveling with us, has not. Actually I am wondering if there might be a way we can get some good views of the Cascades on a loop from Seattle, heading east, then south, ending in Tacoma/Gig Harbor, or would that require extensive driving much farther east? We could skip Snoqualmie Falls if there are pretty Cascade mountain views to be had. Thanks for your patience with my questions.
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Old Apr 20th, 2021, 03:58 PM
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Vashoj Island note:
Month go and last week I tried to get to Vashon... lines for ferry were so long I gave up. Both were weekdays .
As a side bar, I discovered the beach at Ft. Defiance is closed for about a year for some serious updating.
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Old Apr 21st, 2021, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by meggies View Post
Gardyloo, we will be staying with family for a few days in Gig Harbor, so may take a daytrip to Vashon from there. It sounds like we should. DH and I have seen Snoqualmie Falls on a previous trip, but our daughter, who will be traveling with us, has not. Actually I am wondering if there might be a way we can get some good views of the Cascades on a loop from Seattle, heading east, then south, ending in Tacoma/Gig Harbor, or would that require extensive driving much farther east? We could skip Snoqualmie Falls if there are pretty Cascade mountain views to be had. Thanks for your patience with my questions.
Any complete loop of the Cascades would take a full day or more, and to be frank in early June the odds are high that the scenery at elevation might be obscured by clouds. While climate change seems to be lengthening our summers, the old saying in Seattle - that the first day of summer is the 5th of July, seems to hold, as all too often the fireworks on the 4th simply illuminate the clouds. Maybe, maybe not, but the snowpack in the Cascades is deeper than average so far this spring.

That said, you could easily continue up into the mountains on I-90 after visiting Snoqualmie Falls. From Snoqualmie/North Bend it takes around half an hour to reach Snoqualmie Pass, and while the pass isn't the most scenic part of the accessible Cascades, you can certainly get a feel for the mountains. There are several ski areas near the summit, and while the freeway (understandably) takes the lowest and fastest route through the pass, some of the side roads offer decent views of the surrounding peaks, albeit sometimes with a rather artificial look caused by all the ski runs that have been logged off. The area right around the Alpental ski lodge is one such - https://goo.gl/maps/HCd7xFfBGfecj3iY9 - but there are others.

If you were interested in basically a full day's touring, you could extend the drive over Snoqualmie Pass and on to the interesting and historic town of Roslyn, where the old TV series Northern Exposure was filmed. Here's a map showing the combined route, which you could modify based on weather and your circumstances. I'd add 25% to Google's optimistic drive times. https://goo.gl/maps/u74QEFqHWy4vDXf26

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Old Apr 21st, 2021, 08:50 AM
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Was that long line for the ferry at Ruston, traveller24? If so we imagine it would be even longer in June? Would be nice to explore Vashon from there, but not if it takes hours in line. Thanks for any advice you can give.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2021, 07:26 AM
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Thanks, Gardyloo, I think we will perhaps go as far as Snoqualmie Pass. We prefer watching mountains from below, as the drives up can sometimes be on tricky roads. Are there good views of mountains before we have to drive to the top?
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Old Apr 22nd, 2021, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by meggies View Post
Thanks, Gardyloo, I think we will perhaps go as far as Snoqualmie Pass. We prefer watching mountains from below, as the drives up can sometimes be on tricky roads. Are there good views of mountains before we have to drive to the top?
There's some decent scenery from the highway just before you reach the summit, but there's nowhere to pull off of the interstate (if I recall correctly) from which to view it. But the area around the summit is fairly flat and extensive, so getting off the freeway and poking around some of the side roads (ski condos, etc.) can provide some decent views.

That said, there are terrific views of one of the foothill mountains, Mount Si, right from the area around North Bend and Snoqualmie. It's visible from all over the place.



You can see it behind Snoqualmie Falls in this drone video -

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Old Apr 22nd, 2021, 01:42 PM
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Thank you to all for your generous advice!
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