A Washingtonian’s Guide to the Most Scenic Waterfalls in Washington State
Washington, particularly Seattle, is known for its heavy rainfall, so it probably comes as no surprise that where there’s lots of rain, there are lots of waterfalls! Waterfalls in Washington state range from skinny streams at the end of city trails to powerhouse falls that are massive and energy-producing.
With so many waterfalls in Washington to choose from, I’ve narrowed it down to five of my favorites. Here are the five I think you should definitely check out if visiting Washington, and all of them can be done in a day trip from Seattle, though most you’ll probably want to turn into a weekend getaway unless you don’t mind lots of time in the car.
Now without further ado, here we go with the best Washington waterfalls, starting with a famous one that is the easiest to get to from Seattle.
This is the big waterfall in Washington and a major tourist destination in its own right. Snoqualmie Falls crashes over the side of massive cliff in the city of Snoqualmie, a picturesque old rail town that is located about thirty minutes west of downtown Seattle. But take a look at this powerful waterfall and it will be hard to picture that skyscrapers are just a short drive away.
Snoqualmie Falls is 276 feet high and is a major source of power for the area. You can learn about how this power is harnessed and the importance of the region to the native people of Washington on the informational boards located all around the viewing platform.
Hike down to the base of the fall along the well-trafficked trail to see the falls from a different angle and pass some of the powerplant equipment.
Snoqualmie Falls also has an onsite gift shop and coffee bar. It’s adjacent to the opulent Salish Lodge, which is a lovely place to stay or for brunch overlooking the top of the waterfall.
Sol Duc Falls
This is one of the top hikes in the Olympic National Forest, and for good reason since it takes you to gorgeous sun-dappled waterfalls. The series of falls that make up Sol Duc Falls is accessible via the Sol Duc Trailhead in the northern part of Olympic National Park.
Along the way, you’ll pass through heavily wooded areas that are bright green with moss and across scenic wooden bridges.
Once you’re at the falls, take time to walk up to the top viewing platform in addition to the bottom one to see Sol Duc Falls from all angles.
Another must-see waterfall in Olympic National Park is Marymere Falls, which is known for its interesting shape as well as the lush wilderness hike you must take to get there.
The trail to Marymere Falls departs from the parking area next to Lake Crescent Lodge in Port Angeles and is about 1.5 miles roundtrip. The hike begins by Lake Crescent and then takes you through thick, mossy forests, and onto the waterfall.
Marymere Falls is shaped like a narrow bell with a skinny top that changes into a thicker base as it glides over the rocky, moss-lined cliff.
Panther Creek Falls
Panther Creek Falls is located in southwest Washington, just north of the Oregon border near Carson. It’s one of the best waterfalls in Washington due to its breadth, as it stretches wide across a steep rock wall, with water cascading over a 130 feet of earth.
Panther Creek Falls is accessible via a short hike from the parking area. The hike takes you to a viewing platform that is a great vantage point from which to see the falls. This is an easy hike for families with young children or those who find long hikes challenging.
While many of these waterfalls are located in the rainy western part of the state of Washington, there is one that is worth the drive over the Cascades Mountain Range if coming from the Seattle area. That waterfall is Palouse Falls and its breathtaking to behold.
The best time to visit is in Spring when the waterfall is at its biggest after a winter of rainfall; eastern Washington gets quite dry in the summer months. The other plus of spring time is that the Palouse Valley that Palouse Falls is located in is much greener in the spring and its rolling hills are spectacular to behold during this verdant season.