Anyone making a trip to the Pacific Northwest has a veritable smorgasbord of places to visit and wonderful sites to see. Among the places to go in Washington State are the two top tourist attractions in the state. First is Mount Rainier, the most popular attraction in Washington. Right behind Mount Rainier is Snoqualmie Falls, located about 25 miles east of Seattle. [Seattle itself is, of course, loaded with must-see attractions, including the Space Needle, the monorail, the Experience Music Project, and Pike Place Market, the location of the Athenian Café (featured in the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle.”)]
For natural beauty in the Seattle area, however, it is difficult to top Snoqualmie Falls. Snoqualmie is 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls, measuring out at 268 feet. The water drops into a 65 feet deep pool. A You Tube video shows the falls during the time of the flooding. If the link does not take you directly to the flood video, type in “Snoqualmie Falls Flooding” and you should find it.
The visitor to Snoqualmie Falls does not need to know the origin or legends about the area in order to enjoy the scenery, but it does deepen the experience of being there. The area surrounding the falls was left behind as glaciers receded centuries ago. It is a fertile area that was a source of plant-based foods as well as wildlife for the early Native American settlers.
Members of the Snoqualmie Tribe were among the early inhabitants of the area. The word “Snoqualmie” is the English pronunciation of a Native American word for “moon.” According to the Sacred Land Film Project website, Snoqualmie Falls is a sacred area, the area where they believe the first man and woman were created by Moon the Transformer. The legend continues that Moon built the waterfall in order to have prayers carried up to the creator by the mists created by the water dropping nearly 300 feet. As has often been the case with regard to wilderness areas, plans to create tourist areas have raised opposition from the Native Americans who have a different perspective on the meaning and role of nature in human life. This has been no less true with Snoqualmie Falls. The area, over the opposition of Native Americans, has been converted into one that is tourist-friendly with restaurant and spa facilities.
Non-Native Americans began to discover and visit the falls beginning in 1848. Nearly 50 years later, plans for a town were laid out, and, in the succeeding years, equipment for producing hydroelectric power was installed below the falls.
The Native American position about Snoqualmie Falls was summed up by a spokesperson for the Snoqualmie Tribe, Lois Sweet Dorman, when she said, “The spirit is there to strengthen and heal us all. The cycle of water renews us, for it is the cycle of life.” This quote can be found on the Sacred Land Film Project website.
The water of the falls may be the cycle of life; it is also beautiful. Do not miss Snoqualmie Falls.