Snoqualmie Falls is by far the most famous waterfall in Washington, receiving over 1.5 million visitors every year. The Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric project operates beneath the falls, first opened by Puget Power in the early 1900's. During regular flows, most of the river is diverted into penstocks to generate electricity, but when the snow is melting in the mountains or during the annual early winter floods which grace western Washington with alarming consistency, the falls spread out across the entire cliff face, taking on a curtain form and become seriously violent, shaking the earth and sending a blinding spray well above the gorge walls.
Visitors planning on visiting the falls should note that there is currently a long-term construction and renovation project involving installing new turbines in both powerhouses, rebuilding many of the viewpoints and ultimately resulting in a larger minimum release of water over the falls. This project will result in the closure of the trail to the base of the falls until 2014, and visitors will see significant signs of the work all around the falls for the next several years.
- Snoqualmie Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Snoqualmie is the English translation and spelling of the Salish "sah-KOH-koh" or "Sdob-dwahibbluh", meaning Moon. The falls were first seen by non-native Washington Hall in 1848 and became a well known tourist destination by 1865. The hydroelectric facility was installed beneath the falls in 1899 and continues operation today, and the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge (now the Salish Lodge) was opened in 1919 after the Sunset Highway was constructed.
Snoqualmie Falls is located immediately west of the city of Snoqualmie along the Interstate 90 corridor. Exit Interstate 90 at the Snoqualmie Parkway exit, turning north (uphill) and proceed approximately 4 miles to Highway 202, then head left to the falls in another 1/2 mile.