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Snoqualmie Falls - Twin Peaks in Real Life

Snoqualmie Falls - Twin Peaks in Real Life

Snoqualmie Falls is a spectacular waterfall located on the Snoqualmie River between Snoqualmie and Fall City, Washington, USA. It's one of Washington State's most popular scenic attractions, drawing visitors from around the world. Of course I had to visit here... I'm a Twin Peaks fan after all. I never did find the Black Lodge though.

I first came here years ago as a tourist visiting the Seattle area. We booked a tour van that toted us around to a bunch of wineries and whatnot in Woodinville, like Chateau St. Michelle. Although not anywhere near Woodinville, the tour also went to Snoqualmie to see Snoqualmie Falls! Sort of a Wineries and Waterfalls affair I guess. I'd spend a month doing that.

When we got there our tour guide said "Was anyone a fan of Twin Peaks?". My GF and I meekly put our hands up. Our guide said "Alright, no one? Yeah it was crappy TV show from back in the 90s". Ouch dude. There's literally DOZENS of us. Huge fans!

Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge from above
There's the Great Northern! Just kidding...It's the Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls


Snoqualmie Falls is 268 feet (82 meters) in height and roughly 100 feet (30 meters wide) depending on which point you're referencing.

This puts Snoqualmie Falls as being higher than Niagara Falls, although not as wide! Take that Canada!

Power Plant

Snoqualmie Falls is also known for its hydroelectric power plant, which is built directly into the rock face. I totally didn't know this until researching the falls, pretty cool! The plant has been in operation since the early 20th century and is now owned by Puget Sound Energy. It's an underground power plant, which was constructed to minimize the visual impact on the scenic waterfall. Washington certainly knows how to utilize its water. They dammed up the Columbia River, made Lake Roosevelt, and created one of the biggest hydroelectric generation stations in the world by amount of electricity produced. 

Snoqualmie Falls
Closing in on the falls!

Tourism and Recreation

The falls offer a park with an observation deck and a gift shop, providing spectacular views of the waterfall. Many tourists also visit the Salish Lodge & Spa located at the top of the falls, which offers luxury accommodations and dining with a view of the falls. The falls and the lodge have been featured in various movies and TV shows, most notably the TV series "Twin Peaks", where the lodge was known as the Great Northern.

Trails and Hiking

There are also several trails around the falls, providing opportunities for hiking and enjoying the surrounding natural beauty. The area around the falls is lush and forested, offering a tranquil and refreshing experience for visitors.



Lower Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls from the bottom of the falls!

Environmental Conservation

The area around Snoqualmie Falls is also important for environmental conservation. Efforts have been made to protect and preserve the natural habitat around the falls, including the plants and animals that call this area home.


The falls are easily accessible from Seattle, making it a popular day-trip destination for residents and visitors to the city.

If you plan on visiting, please remember to check for any restrictions or requirements due to ongoing health and safety concerns.

Mt. Baker Area -- Day 16/17

Mt. Baker Area -- Day 16/17

Mt. Baker! On my first trip to the North Cascades back in 2022 our innkeepers highly suggested visiting the Mt. Baker area. We unfortunately did not have the time, but on our roadtrip from PA to Seattle, WA., 2023 was our year! I can't believe what I've been missing. The entire Mt Baker area (I think it's called the Mt. Baker Wilderness?) is out of this world. Absolutely stunning. Everyone goes crazy about Mt Rainier, but please don't sleep on the Mt. Baker area! We absolutely loved it!

Mt Baker from Artist Point
THERE's Mt Baker in all its glory! Seen from a trail off of Artist Point

Mount Baker Highway (State Route 542)

This is the main road that takes you deep into the Mount Baker area. It's a scenic byway that begins in Bellingham and ends at Artist's Point, passing through a variety of landscapes — from lush forests to alpine terrain. Along the way, you'll find several points of interest, trailheads, and viewpoints. During winter, the last part of the highway leading to Artist's Point may be closed due to snow, but the area becomes a haven for winter sports.

Picture Lake 


Mt Shuksan and Picture Lake
PICTURE PERFECT Mt. Shuksan reflecting off of Picture Lake. What a beautiful day!

Nestled in the Heather Meadows region, Picture Lake provides one of the most accessible and sublime views of Mount Shuksan. The lake's calm waters, when undisturbed, mirror the towering peak of Mount Shuksan, creating a surreal landscape. This scene, especially during the fall with a tapestry of vibrant foliage or during a tranquil sunset, is a photographer's dream.

The boardwalk around Picture Lake makes for an easy, short walk, suitable for all ages and abilities. Interpretive signs along the way provide insights into the area's ecology and geology.

Mount Shuksan

In the heart of the Cascades, Mount Shuksan is a sight that remains etched in my memory. Rising majestically to 9,131 feet, its silhouette is a breathtaking blend of rugged cliffs, intricate glaciers, and the kind of natural beauty that draws visitors from all corners of the world. The mountain's sheer magnitude is a humbling sight, reminding every observer of nature's grandeur.

The surrounding landscapes of Shuksan are equally mesmerizing. Winding trails beckon adventurers, offering a diverse array of terrains and viewpoints. Each path provides its own unique perspective of Shuksan, from dense forests that open up to reveal the mountain's base to higher vantage points that offer panoramic vistas of its majestic peak.

Shuksan over a big puddle on artist's ridge
Near the end of the Mt Baker Highway. Mt Shuksan towers over a puddle on the Artists Ridge Trail towards Huntoon Point

For anyone with a passion for the outdoors, Mount Shuksan represents the best of the Pacific Northwest – a harmonious blend of raw wilderness and scenic tranquility. Whether you're an avid hiker or simply someone looking to appreciate nature's wonders, Shuksan promises an experience like no other. I mistook Shuksan for Mt Baker for quite a while on this day before realizing my mistake. Don't make my mistake! Shuksan deifnitely holds a candle to the rest of the mighty mountains of the PNW! We parked at the end of the Mt. Baker highway at Artist Point where there is a decent amount of parking to explore the area. 

Artist Point

This viewpoint is located at the end of the Mount Baker Highway and offers some of the most breathtaking views of both Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. The point is accessible via a short trail and is a popular spot for photography, especially during sunset and sunrise. In the winter, it's a popular spot for snowshoeing. Parking here allows you to reach several trailheads such as Chain Lakes, Table Mountain, Ptarmigan Ridge, Artist Ridge (and Huntoon Point). There are "bathrooms" at the parking lot. They need some scent mitigation because MAN the scent was pungent....

Mt Shuksan from an Ice Cave at Artist Point
Mt Shuksan from Artist Point standing on an Ice Cave in Early August

Picture Lake Mt Baker Mt Shuksan
I had to get more pictures in at Picture Lake. More mountains more reflections!

Bagley Lakes Loop Trail

The Bagley Lakes Loop Trail is a gem nestled within the Heather Meadows area, providing a perfect blend of accessibility and natural beauty that appeals to hikers of all levels. As you tread along the 2-mile loop, the pristine waters of Bagley Lakes shimmer in the sunlight, reflecting the surrounding mountains and sky in its mirror-like surface. The trail itself is well-maintained and meanders through a mix of dense forests and open meadows, offering hikers a diverse range of environments in a short distance.

Every step on this trail seems to reveal a new perspective of the lake and its surroundings. Wildflowers, in their blooming season, paint the meadows in hues of purple, yellow, and white, creating a picturesque scene that's perfect for photographers. Birdwatchers can also find joy here, as the region is home to a variety of avian species.


Bagley Lakes / Creek Loop Bridge
Bridge on the Bagley Lake / Creek Loop Trails. What an insanely beautiful area


The gentle elevation changes make this loop ideal for families, including those with young children. Many choose to pause at the lakeside for a leisurely picnic, with the gentle lapping of the waters and chirping of birds as their backdrop. The clear waters of the lake also beckon anglers, who can often be seen casting their lines in hope of a good catch.

For those visiting in winter, the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland. The snow-covered trail and frozen lake offer a whole new experience. The serenity of the snow-blanketed forest and the crunch of snowshoes on fresh powder make snowshoeing here a magical experience. Whether you're building a snowman by the lakeside or simply enjoying the silence broken only by the distant call of a raven, Bagley Lakes in winter is as enchanting as it is in summer.


Bagley Creek at Mt Baker
The fiercely flowing Bagley Creek


Chain Lakes Loop

This is a more challenging hiking trail, usually ranging between 6 to 8 miles depending on the starting point. The trail offers some of the best views in the area, passing by several alpine lakes and offering panoramic views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. It's a popular trail, especially in the summer and fall when the wildflowers are in bloom. We didn't make it here on our trip, but we sure will head there next time, since Seattle is our new home!

Nooksack Falls

Along the scenic Mount Baker Highway, hidden amidst the verdant landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, lies the captivating Nooksack Falls in Whatcom County. On our journey, we were drawn to its enchanting allure. From an impressive height of 88 feet, the water dramatically cascades into a rugged canyon, set against a backdrop of towering trees.The viewpoints of the falls are somewhat limited due to the dangerousness of the terrain and the cliffsides are fenced off. There's signs everywhere to remain as cautious as possible, and to let the professionals handle the close up pictures of the falls. There's even a poster / memorial of the people who have died at the falls. It's nearly a dozen! The access road on the way down almost killed our car too! Holy unmaintained rough road!

Nooksack Falls Washington Mt Baker
Nooksack Falls from a safe distance

Lake Ann 

Lake Ann is another beautiful alpine lake situated in the North Cascades, not far from Mount Shuksan. It's a popular hiking destination and offers striking views of the surrounding peaks, including Mount Shuksan itself. The lake lies in a cirque (a kind of bowl-shaped, steep-walled valley), and glaciers from Mount Shuksan feed into it. The trailhead for this was PACKED. People we're toppling over each other to park ANYWHERE to get to Lake Ann. We didn't have time to do this hike, but we definitely will try next time we're in the area! 


We actually stayed in the area for two nights and booked a VRBO in Glacier, WA. I've never booked a VRBO or an airBNB before and have always been kind of wary of them but...It was definitely a good experience. It was with Luxury Getaways and was in what seemed to be a condo/timeshare unit community at Snowater Resort. It was right off of the Mt. Baker Highway secluded in the woods on the Nooksack River. We could even hear the river running at night!
They knew we were bringing dogs with us and even provided us a doggie welcome pack that had some toys, water bowl and other things in it for us to keep. Pretty cool!
View from the balcony
We had morning coffee on our cute balcony! Very peaceful area


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Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park, situated in the picturesque U.S. state of Washington, serves as a sanctuary of natural wonder spanning over 3,800 acres. This park, framed by the astonishing Strait of Deception Pass that divides Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island, is a marvel of geology, ecology, and history. Named after the strait itself, Deception Pass State Park is a living tapestry of diverse landscapes and cultural significance. This park is an absolute gem! I've been here twice now and didn't want to leave each time. One of the coolest state parks in Washington for sure!


Deception Pass from Above
Deception Pass from above

Deception Pass, located in Washington state, has a pretty interesting story. Back in 1792, Captain George Vancouver was fooled by the geography and thought Whidbey Island was actually a peninsula. It wasn't until his subordinate, Joseph Whidbey, braved the rough and turbulent waters that they discovered it was actually an island. Vancouver was surprised and probably a bit embarrassed by the whole thing, so he named the narrow strait "Deception Pass" to reflect how he was fooled by the landscape. 

These days, the name serves as a reminder to double-check your assumptions and always be on the lookout for surprises.. I love how the staggering geography in the west caused so many explorers so much grief. Only for us to enjoy later, haha!

Geological Marvels

Upon entering the park, you'll be greeted with a breathtaking view of a vast and diverse array of geological formations. These formations are a testament to the Earth's ancient and dynamic history, showcasing the captivating beauty of nature that has been shaped over the course of millennia. The cliffs, which are the highlight of the park, tower over the surrounding landscape and offer a stunning vista of the ocean. The rugged and jagged formations are a result of the ferocious forces of water and wind that have carved them over thousands of years. 

 The sandy dunes nestled nearby offer a stark contrast to the cliffs. These hills are soft and smooth, created by the gentle caress of the wind that has carried sand and deposited it over time. They're a great place to relax and take in the views of the park and the ocean. But the real treat is the intricate tidal pools that dot the shoreline.

 These pools are like miniature worlds unto themselves, each one bursting with an abundance of marine life. The pools, which come in all shapes and sizes, are a testament to the wondrous diversity of nature. They provide a fascinating glimpse into the underwater world and are a must-see for anyone visiting the park.

Deception Pass Bridge from Macs Cove
Deception Pass Bridge from Macs Cove



The Forest's Majesty

The park is adorned with an emerald canopy of old-growth trees, including towering Douglas-firs, Western hemlocks, red alders, and bigleaf maples. These majestic forests serve as habitats for a plethora of wildlife such as deer, raccoons, and various species of birds, including the magnificent bald eagle. The undergrowth is equally rich, with ferns, mosses, and wildflowers adding layers of complexity and beauty to the forest floor.


Bowman Bay from Rosario Head Trail
A chilly morning -- Bowman Bay from Rosario Head Trail


A Shoreline Like No Other

A major highlight of Deception Pass State Park is its expansive shoreline, stretching over 77,000 feet and encompassing both saltwater and freshwater environments. The park offers breathtaking vistas, particularly from the iconic Deception Pass Bridge, which soars 180 feet above the turbulent waters below. Standing on this architectural marvel, one can truly appreciate the park’s grandeur, as the wind, water, and natural beauty coalesce into a singular awe-inspiring experience. You might even be able to spot an orca or two if you're lucky!

See if you can spot some orcas on your trip! Check out Orca Network on Facebook for sighting and reportings.


Views from Rosario Head -- Deception Pass
Stunning views from Rosario Head


Recreational Opportunities Abound

Outdoor aficionados will find no shortage of activities to partake in. Miles upon miles of trails crisscross the park’s various ecosystems, available for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Anglers will be delighted by the dual opportunities of freshwater and saltwater fishing. For those interested in shellfish, areas are designated for shellfish harvesting, making it a popular activity during the appropriate seasons.


Heron on Rock - Deception Pass
Heron chillin' on a rock



For visitors planning to extend their stay, the park offers a well-maintained campground divided into three distinct areas, each equipped with essential amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. Rosario Beach, situated on the southwestern edge of the park, is a gem that captivates with its tide pools and unparalleled sunset vistas.


Dogs at Deception Pass State Park
The boys are enjoying their hike...and their view!


Historical and Cultural Significance

The park serves as more than just a recreational destination; it is also a living museum. The Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center details the history of the Depression-era work program that played a role in the park's development. Furthermore, the land holds immense importance to the Native American communities, particularly the Coast Salish peoples, whose history is deeply interwoven with the landscape.

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North Cascades National Park Complex -- Day 14 / 15

North Cascades National Park Complex -- Day 14 / 15

Made it to the North Cascades again! We visited back in 2022 which helped solidify our decision to move to the PNW. Such an amazing place.

Day 14

In the morning of Day 14 we got coffee at Crandall Coffee and headed towards Lake Chelan to get a quick view of the southern region of the lake at Lake Chelan State Park. We lounged around by the lakeshore and briefly did the Little Bear trail but there were warnings about recent bear sightings. That wouldn't bother us if we were alone, but since we had the dogs we didn't want to risk it. They're tiny and leash reactive soooooo yeah. 

We would've loved to have been in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area but its so incredibly remote, most people access it through Stehekin, which itself is only accessible by Plane, Boat, or hiking.

Day 15 

I've been to the North Cascades on a trip a year before we did our road trip out to WA. It's a stunning place. Little did we know, part of the park is on fire, with the active nascent Sourdough Mountain fire.

North Cascades National Park Complex is a stunning expanse of wilderness located in the state of Washington, USA. The complex includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. These distinct areas work in tandem to protect an extensive range of ecosystems, from temperate rainforests at lower elevations to rugged mountain terrains punctuated by glaciers.


Rainy Lake -- North Cascades -- Ross Lake Area
Rainy Lake in the Ross Lake area. I think technically in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. An easy trail that is dog friendly. One of the only in the area! The dogs liked this trail and it was relatively flat. There were very few people on the trail as well. The first time we came through the area in 2022 there was still a ton of snow at the trailhead parking lot. Not this time!


A Natural Treasure Trove

This park is seriously cool! It's got over 300 glaciers, making it one of the top spots in the lower 48 states for ice. But these huge mounds of ice are way more than just pretty to look at. They're super important to the park's ecosystems because they nourish rivers and lakes that keep a ton of wildlife alive. From sneaky gray wolves and amazing grizzly bears to over 200 different types of birds - like the northern spotted owl, which is endangered - the park is full of life. This amazing mix of creatures all live in different habitats, like ancient forests, colorful alpine meadows, and a bunch of rivers and lakes. It's like a safe haven where all these amazing things can come together.
Fire Ban in effect North Cascades
Speaks for itself really


Diablo Lake with Sourdough Fire in the Background
Diablo Lake and most of the waters in the North Cascades have such a mind-blowing hue. This is my second visit here. Unfortunately, you can see the very beginning of the Sourdough Mountain fire in its first week of burning.



Sourdough Mountain Fire North Cascades August
Sourdough Mountain Fire as of 8/2/23. Sad sight to see


A Hiker’s Paradise

If you're passionate about the great outdoors, North Cascades is a dream come true. With over 400 miles of hiking trails, you have endless options to explore stunning mountain views, peaceful forests, and unique bodies of water like Diablo Lake, known for its striking turquoise color from glacial silt. For the more experienced, the park's challenging peaks offer a serious test of mountaineering skills. And let's not forget, the legendary Pacific Crest Trail runs through this area, providing an epic long-distance hiking experience.


Diablo Lake 2022
Here is the same view of Diablo Lake from my trip in 2022. No Sourdough Fire! This picture has been my phone's background ever since I took it.


History and Human Interaction

Although North Cascades might seem like an unspoiled wilderness, it actually has a rich human history. Indigenous communities have inhabited this region for thousands of years, long before it became a national park. The Skagit River, which flows through the park, has always been a vital resource for Native American tribes. Moving ahead to the 19th and early 20th centuries, you'll find that the area attracted a wave of explorers, miners, and loggers. Today, visitors can explore this fascinating mix of natural beauty and human influence through visitor centers and interpretive trails that recount the story of how both nature and humanity have shaped this remarkable landscape.

Ross Lake NRA
Beautiful Late Afternoon Views


Recreational Activities Beyond Hiking

In addition to its hiking and mountaineering allure, North Cascades has a whole lot more to offer for outdoor enthusiasts. Lakes like Ross and Chelan are hotspots for boating, fishing, and even a bit of scuba diving for the aquatic adventurers among us. If you're into angling or the thrill of whitewater rafting, the Skagit River has got you covered. When winter rolls around, the park morphs into a snowy wonderland, perfect for activities like snowshoeing, skiing, and winter camping—if you're up for braving the chill, that is. 

If you're lucky enough to get lodging I'd recommend trying to stay in Stehekin at the northern tip of Lake Chelan! I've been wanting to now for years, so now that I live in Washington I can't wait to try. There are no roads to Stehekin. One most either hike 20+ miles from route 20, take a paid ferry, or take a plane/floatplane. Talk about remote! Here's how to get to Stehekin if you must!


Ross Lake NRA
Can't get enough of that water!


Educational Opportunities

The North Cascades Institute, an educational non-profit organization, partners with the National Park Service to offer educational programs for people of all ages. From youth programs that foster a love for the outdoors to adult classes in natural history and outdoor skills, the institute provides in-depth ways to engage with this incredible landscape.


Start of the Thunder Knob trail
Beginning of the Thunder Knob trail!


The Importance of Conservation

The sheer scope of natural diversity in the North Cascades National Park Complex makes it an essential area for ecological research and conservation. Efforts to monitor the health of animal populations, the retreat of glaciers due to climate change, and the impact of human activity are ongoing. The park serves as both a natural sanctuary and a living laboratory, aiding our understanding of how complex ecosystems function and change over time.


Above The Water
Suspended above the water in Newhalem!