A visit to Snoqualmie Falls can make for an amazing family outing. It’s easy to engage kids with the history and the wonder of this place. You just need to know where to look.
When you get there, park in the upper lot across the street. There, parking is free, and you get to walk over the cool old covered bridge. The Falls are an international tourist destination. Make a game of counting the different languages and accents. Strike up a conversation. It’s a neat way to teach your kids about the larger world.
When you get to the main viewing platform, ask your kids if they can spot the old railroad trestle in the forest on the far side. Also, see if they can spot the small cave at the bottom of the Falls on the right. Tell them it leads to a secret illuminated chamber under the Falls. Ask them to guess what it is for.
Along the sidewalk that leads from the Falls viewing area to the gift shop, you will see signs to a trail that leads to the Lower Falls. It’s an easy hike through the forest. If your kids are like mine, it will take you 20 minutes to hike down and forty to hike back up😉. There are decent bathrooms at both the top and the bottom.
On the way down, look for a hollowed out log that kids can crawl through. A series of interpretive signs tell about the flora and fauna. Last time we were there we saw three deer just off the trail!
At the bottom, the hydroelectric history of the Falls comes alive. There are big artifacts kids can crawl through and around. The massive penstock pipes coming down the hill are a sight to behold. They feed Power Plant #2, the building close to the river. Ask you kids how falling water makes electricity. Read the signs for clues.
Follow the board walk to the lower Falls viewing area. From here the Falls look amazing! See if the kids can spot the that cave again. It leads to the second oldest hydroelectric power plant in the world. Tell them that the same generators that were installed in there over one hundred years ago are still in there making electricity today. The cave is called the tailrace, and it allows the water flowing through the generators to leave the power plant.
Be sure to read the interpretive sign about Moon the Transformer. The Snoqualmie Falls have been an important spiritual site for the indigenous people of the Puget Sound for millennia. Ask your kids to name the oldest culture they can think of. Then tell them natives were coming to these Falls for thousands of years before the pyramids were ever built.
Back at the top, there is a fairly nice gift shop. For about three bucks a kid, you can escape it with everyone smiling about ice cream.
If you want to extend the learning and the fun, go to the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Museum just beyond the bridge that goes over the river. It’s free, and it’s open Wednesday through Sunday starting in late May.
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