Suncadia at dusk in the winter. Photos courtesy of Suncadia Resort.
A brighter day is dawning at the Suncadia resort complex near Roslyn. This 6,400-acre development, with its sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains, is enjoying an upturn in its number of vacation guests and construction of new homes.
Plans for this year-round resort community in the peaceful Teanaway region — which, for many years, was private timberland — began to take shape in 2000 when a development plan was approved. Originally, the community was to be called Mountainstar. In 2003, Lowe Enterprises, a national real estate services company, came on the scene and the development was rechristened Suncadia.
Over the next two years, with great optimism, an 18-room inn and the 18-hole Prospector’s Golf Course opened to the public, followed by the 254-room lodge in 2008. Then, from 2009 to 2011, Suncadia had to weather “three pretty tough years” during the storm of recession, says Roger Beck, managing director for the resort.
Now, however, following recapitalization in 2012, this resort community is “on pace to have a record year,” he said. The Lodge at Suncadia, which has earned a Four Diamond rating from AAA, is running at “better than 50 percent occupancy,” compared with occupancy rates that ran in the “high 30s to mid-40s” from 2009 to 2011.
“We’ve only been in business basically five years,” Beck observes. “Ultimately, we hope to be in the mid-60 (percent occupancy) range. That’s what we’d like to grow to.”
About half of Suncadia’s visitors come for leisure time, the other half come for business conferences. Between 40 and 50 new homes are under construction, with 400 private homes — typically used as vacation homes — already completed. Approximately 30 of the completed homes are for sale, Beck says.
Suncadia bills itself as being on “the sunny side” of the Cascades, which, as anyone in Eastern Washington already knows, is a strong draw for rain-soaked westsiders. It is located about 85 miles east of Seattle — and 65 miles northwest of Yakima — off Interstate 90. As the resort works to draw in visitors for every season of the year, it features a swimming and fitness center (with two indoor water slides), a summer events pavilion that turns into a winter skating rink, and a large spa, among other offerings.
On a recent visit to Suncadia, it was a drive of about a mile from the “greeter’s gate” through forestland to the lodge. In this expansive, “wild” area, some 16 miles of paved bicycle paths, eight miles of unpaved hiking trails and two more 18-hole golf courses (one of which is open to the general public) have been added — with a tubing hill and snowshoe/cross-country trails awaiting snowfall.
The facility is reminiscent of an upscale national park lodge, featuring wood floors, exposed wood beam ceilings and a large stone fireplace in its “great room.” The nearly-floor-to-ceiling windows and covered walkway outside the lodge offer a panoramic view of the Cascades, and from just the right angle, you can look down the hillside to see the Cle Elum River.
Soon, the “1000 Steps” project will be completed. This “lodge to river staircase” (which includes just 379 steps) will allow visitors to comfortably descend to the riverside. About every 50 steps, there will be a landing on which walkers can pause, take a break and enjoy the scenery. At night, low-voltage lights lining the staircase will guide the way.
The Suncadia Lodge is made up entirely of “condo-hotel units” that are available for rent to the general public. A guest room costs anywhere from $109 to $259 per night, depending upon season and day of the week, with a one-bedroom suite running about $50 to $75 more per night, Beck says.
The nearby Suncadia Inn, which is designed to have a more rustic look, was initially planned to accommodate potential home buyers coming to look at the community as well as tourists. Its 18 rooms cost about $10 to $20 more per night than the lodge. Although the inn has usually been open just for the summer, reservations are now being accepted for nearly every week of the year.
Other lodging choices in the resort include more than 30 furnished rental homes (from $400 to $1,200 per night) and 20 to 30 “trailhead” condominiums (at anywhere from $159 to $459 per night). Again, prices vary depending upon season and night of the week.
As Suncadia comes into its stride, new innovations are always on the drawing board. A glossy event guide offered in the great room touts everything from beverage specials to swimming schedules, spa day passes, sports equipment rentals, music, movies and craft programs for kids. Seasonal sports range from horseback riding to fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
A personable new executive chef, Casey McManus, was hired earlier in the year to revitalize the cuisine in Suncadia dining facilities. Among other changes, he’s been working to gear the menus to include choices for families who visit with children and want a more casual menu. There are a total of five dining facilities at Suncadia, two of which are open only in the summer.
“In Portals (the lodge dining room), the most popular thing on our menu is probably the lobster mac and cheese,” McManus says. Featuring Maine lobster, cheese sauce, bread crumbs and truffle oil, this delicacy costs $33 for dinner or $26 for a lunch-sized portion. The dinner menu includes other entrées ranging from Ruby Red Trout to a smoked pork chop and beef filet, in the $28 to $38 range.
However, you could also choose a white cheddar burger for dinner ($16) or a variety of luncheon soups, salads and sandwiches in the $5 to $17 range. Kids have their own menu, including flatbread pizza for $6, veggie mac and cheese for $5 and mini sliders for $5. There’s a small breakfast buffet offered on weekends, and a regular breakfast menu every day of the week. And desserts? How about homemade cheesecake, crème brulee or mud pie?
The creative McManus is also interested in the potential of having bees for honey and an herb garden on premises, for additional fresh menu elements.
And future developments may go far beyond that, Beck suggests.
“We also are planning to build a retail village near the lodge within the next several years,” he explains. Such a site might include a general store, freestanding restaurant and bar, clothing shops and an ice cream parlor, he predicts.
As Suncadia moves forward, it calls to mind a popular song from a few decades ago, called “Seattle.” As this newer development matures and expands, it’s a lot like “a beautiful child growing up … full of hopes … full of dreams to last the years.” It will be interesting to watch the next chapter unfold.
For more information on Suncadia, visit suncadiaresort.com or call 866-904-6300.
A fireplace warms Portals at Suncadia.
Casey McManus, Suncadia’s Executive Chef. Photo by Christine Conklin.
Fifty6, the lounge at Suncadia.
A Lodge studio suite.
The Lodge’s greatroom affords spectacular views.
An exterior view of Suncadia.
Woodcarver Norman Brown drills hole in a chair he is building at his Cowiche studio. Photos by Andy Sawyer.
In the skillful hands of Tieton woodcarver Norman Brown, a simple block of wood is transformed into a thing of beauty.
In his workshop on the banks of Cowiche Creek, set in the midst of a flourishing fruit and vegetable garden, Brown, 55, creates wondrous things. A chunk of sycamore comes to life as two jumping trout are suspended in mid-flight above a wood base. A large piece of elm becomes a 24-inch bowl in the shape of a scallop shell, its varnished ridges shimmering in the light. A rough block of apple wood morphs into a silky smooth, long-handled spoon, fit for a gourmet kitchen.
After some 27 years in the woodcarving business, Brown really knows wood — its strengths and weaknesses, its grain and its ultimate potential. Perhaps his remarkable eye for detail was honed in his previous career as a laboratory scientist in cities including Silverton, Ore., and Yakima. As a medical scientist he spent countless hours peering through a microscope lens, studying the colors and intricate patterns of samples, in order to identify disease processes. In 2006 he took up woodworking on a full-time basis.
When working with wood, the detail is still important, but the process is much more fun.
Brown’s interest in wood began when he was a child, growing up in Yakima. He helped his dad build everything from horse corrals to nest boxes for the pigeons they raised. As a teenager, he assisted his grandfather with home construction projects. While pursuing his B.S. in biology and B.A. in allied health sciences at Central Washington University, he began working on scale-model buildings, primarily half-timber designs with a French or German flair. He even taught woodworking for a time in Silverton and Salem, Ore.
But his joy of creating with wood really began as a child, when he made toy boats for his two younger brothers to sail in nearby irrigation ditches.
“Some of the boats actually floated,” he recalled with a smile.
Through the years, Brown kept his hand in woodworking, crafting a yard swing or an Adirondack chair here, a table or desk there. Now, he can happily immerse himself in wood shavings from morning till night — and often does. He even mentors a couple of students each year who are interested in everything from decorative wood carving to more general skills.
He teaches them that the art of woodworking begins long before a piece of wood actually lands on a sawhorse or table in his shop. First, he must find the wood.
“Sometimes, I race bulldozers as they pull down pear and apple trees in the fall,” he said. “Or, a tree service may call me. One time, a friend called and said, ‘Get this stuff (wood) out of our garage, so my wife can park her car.’” A single log can weigh thousands of pounds, so “I try to keep it under a ton,” he commented. Elm, walnut, ash, sycamore, fruit wood — it all has potential for a beautiful new life in Brown’s hands.
His analytical eye goes to work when he first spots his raw material.
“You start by ‘reading the bark of a tree,’ the pattern and detail, to determine whether the tree might contain straight pieces that could be made into spoons or lumber for furniture,” he explained. “You’re also looking for the potential of decorative pieces, using the crotch of a tree (with a fan-like pattern) or a burl. When I look at a piece of wood, I see the grain, possible shapes. You have to think, ‘What is the end product?’”
One of his favorite creations is a “fish bowl,” a 29-inch-long piece of English walnut with a shallow indentation in the shape of a fish. The moment he saw the grain of the wood, he knew that this piece was destined to be a fish, he said.
Once the wood is carted back to his shop, there is the aging process to consider. If wood dries too quickly, it may crack. Depending upon the final product he has in mind, and the type of wood, he may need to age the wood as long as one year for every inch of thickness. Black plastic covers and periodic misting with water help keep the wood in optimum condition.
Occasionally, Brown uses a power tool, such as a chain saw. However, the bulk of his work is done with myriad hand tools such as chisels, gouges and hand planes. His shop is a veritable tool store, with meticulously arranged drawers and walls of implements. For example, he has some 75 hand saws.
Creation with wood tends to have a seasonal flow, Brown observed. In the fall, he gathers wood. During the winter, he carves bowls (including apple-shaped bowls made of apple wood), spoons and other items. In spring, he often receives furniture commissions for pieces such as Mission-style chairs and tables. And, both in summer and at Christmas time, Brown and Janet, his wife of 35 years, make the rounds to about 60 craft shows, festivals and fairs to sell his creations and also exhibit the antique tools he collects.
The long-handled spoons, which can be made in a couple of hours each, tend to be the biggest seller, going for about $18 to $20. Some of the more intricate, larger pieces such as shell-shaped bowls (which may be sold on the Internet or in person) take years of ongoing work and sell for as much as several thousand dollars.
It’s fun to watch potential customers at a craft show or fair pick up one of his spoons, Brown said.
“You can tell if someone is a really good cook, because they will close their eyes, hold the spoon and make stirring motions in the air, kind of like air guitar,” he said.
Ken Tolonen, a customer and former coworker, says Norm’s woodwork resonates with the same skill and precision he showed as a scientist. “They’re unique and they’re beautiful,” said Tolonen of Brown’s pieces. “… the grain of the wood, the color of the wood, the workmanship.”
Working with wood does have some minor liabilities: a heavy log injuring a finger, or spending hours on a particular piece only to find that there is a flaw deep inside the wood and the entire project must be scrapped.
However, the joy of creation and other benefits far outweigh the risks, Brown contends.
“This is a stress-reducer and good physical exercise,” he said. “There’s nothing like working with a chunk of wood and an ax to make you feel better. You put in 12-hour days and work until you can’t lift your arms in the air anymore. You almost feel guilty because it feels so good.”
Brown’s creations can be found at
An array of chisels in Brown's collection.
Some pieces created by Brown.
A work in progress at Brown's Cowiche studio.
Two fish show Brown's attention to detail.
Brown shapes a spoon while working in his studio this summer.
A few pieces of Brown's wood - as a blank canvas.
Scalloped edges on a bown created by Brown.
The inside of a doll house scale structure, created by Brown.Woodcarver, Norman Brown, walks through some of his property near Cowiche.
Edith Creek at Mount Rainier National Park. Photos courtesy of Visit Rainier.
Who in Central Washington doesn’t have a special memory of Mount Rainier? A family trip, hiking up a trail, playing in the snow. The visitor center, wildflowers and dining in Paradise Lodge … the view of the majestic, 14,410-foot-high mountain on a sunny day.
It seems that no matter where we call home, Mount Rainier has a way of drawing us in. Each year, between 1.5 and 2 million visitors travel here, according to the National Park Service. On a recent visit, there was a wide variety of cultures, languages and dress, as people from throughout the world wandered about, experiencing this natural wonder.
The Henry M. Jackson Memorial visitors center.
Camping near Longmire, circa 1915.
The highest mountain in the Cascade Range, it is estimated that Mount Rainier was formed some 500,000 years ago. It was first known by Native Americans as “Talol,” or “Mother of Waters.” An active volcano, still classified as “dangerous,” the mountain has not erupted since the 1800s. It drew attention in 2009 and 2011 with “seismic swarms” — or surges of earthquakes.
Mount Rainier has 25 glaciers, and on an especially clear day, can be seen from “about half the state,” say park officials.
For many years, Rainier was a hub for logging and railroad business. Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1889, and has continued to draw mountaineers, skiers and other visitors in record numbers.
The dining room at Paradise Inn.
The Grande Dame of Mount Rainier accommodations is Paradise Inn. Opened in 1917, its name came from a comment by a member of the pioneering Longmire family, who saw the surrounding meadows and remarked, “Oh, what a paradise!” The inn is a popular part of this national park, which was named a historic landmark in 1997.
When a $22 million renovation was in progress at Paradise Inn from 2006-07, longtime visitors were a little nervous, recalled Jim Hinote, an interpretative ranger at the park for 15 years.
“Many people were concerned about what they were going to do to their building,” he said. As the doors reopened for business in 2008, however, numerous visitors commented that they didn’t really see a difference.
“We passed the test,” Hinote says with a chuckle.
And indeed, the trademark cedar lodge with its huge stone fireplaces and groupings of comfortable furniture, still holds its original charm. The recent renovation focused primarily on seismic precautions that are not visible: a new foundation and new firewalls behind the fireplaces, for example. In addition, handicap-access rooms were added.
Open from late May through early October, Paradise Inn has 121 guest rooms in its main building and annex, which run from $114 (for a single room without bath) to $284 (for the best suite with sitting room and bath). And remember the board games and tables on the main floor and mezzanine? They’re still there and just as popular, it seems. There’s also a gift shop.
The National Park Inn in Longmire is open year-round and offers a rustic lounge with large stone fireplace, general store and 25 guest rooms. Prices range from $116 for a room without bath to $244 for a two-room unit with bath.
National Park Inn
Nearby communities also offer motels. Drive-in campgrounds are located at Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh and White River, opening each year between late May and late June and remaining open until late September. Fees range from $12-15 on up to $40-64 for groups.
There are several choices for meals in Mount Rainier National Park — whether you’d like fine dining with white tablecloths, or a “grab and go” sandwich or snack.
The dining room of Paradise Inn offers the most upscale fare available in the park. Luncheon choices, for example, start at about $11 and range from a Yakima Spinach Salad to Alaskan Halibut & Chips. Dinner choices include Bourbon Buffalo Meatloaf ($21) and Pacific Salmon ($27). Desserts include flourless chocolate torte and blackberry pie. They also offer a Sunday brunch. The wait staff provides excellent service, although the food itself, during a recent lunch, seemed plain. The inn also has the more informal Tatoosh Café, selling sandwiches and salads.
In the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, you’ll find a simple restaurant with less expensive fare such as pizza, sandwiches and hot dogs.
The National Park Inn at Longmire has a restaurant offering everything from a Buffalo Quesadilla to Sauteed Brook Trout, and they offer a child’s menu.
There’s also a snack bar at the Sunrise Day Lodge, located at the highest point in the park accessible by car, that sells hamburgers, deli sandwiches and soup.
The Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, a short walking distance from Paradise Inn, was completely rebuilt and opened in 2008. In place of the previous “flying saucer” design is a facility with two floors of offerings, including an information desk staffed by park rangers, a small theater for viewing a movie about the park and a variety of nature-oriented exhibits including interactive displays.
The Sunrise Day Visitor Center also has rangers available to answer questions and lead short hikes, plus displays on everything from glaciers to lava and wildflowers.
Then there’s the Longmire Museum, near to the National Inn, which is a local history museum offering programs by park rangers and information on hiking trails. But you’ll need to wait a while before visiting the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center; it’s closed for the year due to the federal sequestration budget cuts that went into effect in March of this year.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Wildflowers and hiking are two of the biggest draws for tourists coming to Rainier, says Melinda Simpson, operations manager for guest services.
“People will book a year in advance to come when the wildflowers bloom,” she noted. This popular time to visit usually begins in August. “Sub-alpine” varieties such as avalanche lilies, lupine and Indian paintbrush put on quite a show.
Visitors of all ages can enjoy a variety of trails in Mount Rainier National Park. Choices range from the popular ¼-mile Glacier Vista trail overlooking the Nisqually glacier and a sedate, one-mile trail that is accessible to handicapped individuals and even strollers. Also available is an ambitious, 93-mile Wonderland trail, which takes at least a couple of days.
In addition, some 9,000 to 12,000 climbing permits are issued each year for those who want to climb to the summit.
Some equipment such as cross-country skis and snowshoes is available for rent at sites in the park.
HOW TO GET THERE
Mount Rainier is an easy day trip from Yakima. A park-issued mileage guide lists Paradise Inn as 87 miles from Yakima, while Longmire is 94 miles and Sunrise 105 miles. Take Highway 12 west to SR 123. Follow SR 123 north to the Stevens Canyon entrance of the park.
For further details on directions and other park services, call 360-569-2211 or visit mtrainierguestservices.com or nps.gov/mora.
Paradise Lodge at Mount Rainier.
Myrtle Falls at Mount Rainier National Park.
Backpackers enjoy a trek at Mount Rainier National Park.
Boushey walks behind a tractor chugging up a vineyard row. Photos by Chad Bremerman.
On the southern slope of the Rattlesnake Hills, where nature provides an ideal blend of warm days slowly fading into cool nights, Dick Boushey produces what are recognized as some of the finest wine grapes in the country.
“I feel lucky to be able to do this,” the 61-year-old grower humbly observes, referring to some 300 acres planted in wine grapes, juice grapes, apples and cherries in four different sites around Grandview. “I like what I’m doing.”
Boushey shares his home, settled in the midst of his vineyards, with wife of 34 years, Luanne. From there, he “can sit and look out at Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and all the Horse Heaven Hills. Behind me is the stark beauty of sagebrush. In ‘the world according to Dick,’ I have the perfect setting,” he says. It’s these same vineyards where his two daughers grew up. “On the farm,” he says.
Boushey specializes in Syrah grapes — a dark-skinned fruit that has become popular for its full-bodied, intense red wines — as well as Merlot and Cabernet grapes. He also raises other Bordeaux grapes, with a few Italian and Spanish grape varieties thrown in for good measure. Although he does not make wine commercially, he sells to 35 wineries in Washington and Oregon. His name appears on bottles for about 10 varieties of wine made by 15 wineries, ranging from Maison Bleue in Walla Walla to Fidelitas Winery in Benton City. Boushey also manages local vineyards for Efeste Winery and the Upchurch Vineyard.
Among his honors, he’s received the 2002 Erick Hanson Wine Grape Grower of the Year award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, the 2007 Walter Clore Award from the Washington State Grape Society and the 2008 Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers’ Industry Service Award. In addition, he sits on numerous boards, including Welch’s National Grape Cooperative, the Washington State Wine Commission and the Auction of Washington Wines (which raises money for Children’s Hospital in Seattle).
Boushey’s outgoing manner and wide range of experience draw enthusiastic reviews from his peers and acquaintances alike.
“He’s a very affable, friendly guy, a lot of fun to be around,” observed Wade Wolfe, co-owner and winemaker for Thurston Wolfe Winery in Prosser. “I’ve known Dick for at least 30 years. He is among the most active members of the wine industry — not just as a grower, but as an advocate and representative.”
And noted wine columnist Paul Gregutt thinks Boushey is quite a character. “Before turning to wine writing, I worked in radio and television and interviewed hundreds of artists, musicians, actors and media personalities. Dick Boushey is right out of central casting, and I mean that in the best possible way,” Gregutt said. “When you look up Yakima grape grower in the dictionary, you get a picture of Dick Boushey. He is humble, dedicated, innovative, canny, self-effacing, witty, immensely talented and relentlessly hard-working. I have often written, and believe in my heart, that his vineyard produces, among many other successes, the best Syrah grapes in the country.”
The rave reviews are all the more remarkable for a man who didn’t want to go into agriculture. In fact, Boushey started out in finance. In the 1970s, Boushey studied banking at the University of Puget Sound, after years of helping out on farms in the Sumner area. He was fed up with summers spent picking everything from blueberries to rhubarb, strawberries, daffodils and tulips.
“I went to school to become a banker, but I found I didn’t enjoy it,” he explained. “In 1975, my dad bought an apple orchard in Grandview and asked me to run it. It was supposed to be for only one year.”
But one thing led to another, and Boushey discovered that farming might not be so bad after all.
“The challenge of making a living off a farm is you have to be very creative, work very hard, outthink Mother Nature, outthink the market,” he said. He began planting wine grapes in 1980 when the industry was just beginning in Central Washington.
“I’ve had to learn over the years how these things grow,” he observed. “At first, it was just intuitive. Everyone was learning together. The wine industry here wasn’t taken very seriously then, but I was fascinated by it.”
Nowadays, though, he knows what’s going on in the plants. “I have really good people working for me … I read a lot. I hang out at the WSU Prosser research center (where wine grape research is done).”
Boushey routinely walks through every block of grapes he’s planted. He still has to laugh as he passes through his first plot of Cabernet grapes.
“I had no clue what I was doing,” he recalls. “In the middle, several rows curve and are uneven. But now I know where the rocky areas are, where the good soil is.”
His renowned Syrah grapes, now his biggest seller, came along in 1993.
“I was one of the earlier growers of Syrah,” Boushey explained. “The conditions here — higher elevation, cooler so that the grapes ripen later but don’t get high alcohol content or over-ripen, shallow, rockier soil that allows us to keep the canes shorter and pick smaller grapes with good color — are the closest thing to the Old World origins of this grape of anything in the New World, even California.”
And he says he never has enough Syrah. “It’s different from other reds. It has a big, bold taste. It’s lush. It doesn’t have harshness. You don’t need to age the grapes as long. They reflect where they’re grown, and can taste dramatically different.”
Jon Meuret, owner and winemaker for Maison Bleue in Walla Walla, has purchased grapes from Boushey since 2008.
“He’s great to work with,” Meuret says. “He’s got a keen sense of how to struggle the vine (a technique of making the vine work harder) to make great fruit and he’s also got a great palate … All of the top wineries want to be in his vineyard(s).”
In Boushey’s words, there’s “a lot of hype in the wine business,” and he admits there’s a certain romance to the idea of growing exceptional grapes. But, he says, “What’s important is doing things right year after year and making a good product.”
Boushey says that he has never had his own winery “because I’ve never had the time or the money. I also kept thinking, ‘I would have to compete with my customers.’” However, he and his father-in-law, Glen Holden, have dabbled in making a small amount of wine over the past 30 years.
“We probably make about 55 gallons a year,” Boushey said. “I love wine. I’m a wine nut. I drink all kinds of wine.”
And he has no intention of ever leaving the industry he loves.
“I’m probably going to do this ’til I fall off the truck one day,” he says with a laugh.
Dick Boushey in his Grandview vineyard.
The autumn sun shines on vineyards in harvest.
The view from Boushey's vineyards is expansive.
Grapes are collected and ready for the next step in the process.
Grapes glow in the sunlight.
A field worker harvests Boushey vineyard grapes last fall.
A field worker picks grapes.
The dramatic Snoqualmie Falls is a popular tourist attraction. Salish Lodge & Spa is perched on a bluff nearby. Photos courtesy of Salish Lodge & Spa.
Snoqualmie Falls, drawing more than 1.5 million visitors each year, is one of Washington’s best-known tourist spots. Most give credit to the majestic waterfall, which cascades more than 260 feet down granite cliffs, for this distinction. However, anyone who has ever visited this area would also have to give at least partial credit to the Salish Lodge & Spa. With its mountain retreat atmosphere — and its popular country breakfast — the lodge can draw a crowd.
The Salish, which is located about 30 minutes east of Seattle and two hours from Yakima via Interstate 90, is a landmark in its own right. Opened in 1916 under the name Snoqualmie Falls Lodge, the facility has preserved the “getaway idea” of that original bed and breakfast, while growing and adapting to meet today’s tourist clientele.
“All seasons of the year are very popular for us,” said General Manager Rod Lapasin. “It’s just as popular in the winter when it’s a stormy day.”
Different seasons have their advantages, he explained. Summer offers more outdoor opportunities, such as walks and hikes, while winter offers nearby skiing and often a more spectacular view of the falls, with a higher water volume.
What once was an eight-bedroom lodge now has 84 guest rooms, with a jetted tub and fireplace in each room. (Room rates range from about $189 on a weeknight to $999 for a suite in peak season.) In addition to a spacious lobby, dining room and casual-food restaurant called The Attic, there is a spa that boasts sauna facilities, 10 “treatment rooms” and two soaking pools. A large gift shop offers everything from wine and candles to decorative owls. Some of the wooden flooring, walls and the dining room fireplace are original.
And, oh, the food! Salish is known for its country breakfast, with an assortment of freshly squeezed orange juice, steaming oatmeal, pancakes or sausage, fruit, eggs and other accompaniments, such as freshly baked biscuits. Granted, the meal costs $34 for adults and $22 for children (a $54 meal for two people to share also is available), but most trips to Salish are a special occasion. The country breakfast is served each day of the year.
Those who prefer lighter fare have other choices, of course. On a recent visit, I ordered the French toast with marmalade and candied hazelnuts for $17, while my companion tried the “Croque Madame,” an open-face ham and cheese sandwich with fried eggs and béchamel sauce on top ($19). Both were great. In all, the lodge hosts between 250 to 350 people every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during “brunch” hours, Lapasin says.
Dining room lunch and dinner selections range from grilled steelhead and pork loin to scallops, rib-eye steak and chocolate soufflé — and the prices tend to climb as the day goes on.
In The Attic, however, you can sample a pizza from a wood-fired oven for $15 to $18, sandwiches for $13 to $16 or even a cup of smoked salmon chowder for $7. There’s also a kid’s menu with three choices between $8 and $10.
Emphasis is placed upon “farm-to-table local offerings,” Lapasin says. That includes infusing many menu items with honey, fresh from its 12-hive apiary, and fresh herbs from its herb garden. Other natural elements of the lodge include glass centerpieces, made by a local artist, placed on the dining room tables in the evening.
The Salish Lodge & Spa underwent a refurbishment last year, with fresh touches ranging from new carpeting to wood refinishing and painting. This is one facility that really seems to maximize the benefits of “location, location, location.” From the subdued lighting to the banks of windows in the dining room, hallway and other locations, the emphasis is on the beauty of the natural surroundings. The earth-tone décor, with wood, brick and slate, is more subtle, drawing your eye to the view of the falls and the surrounding forest, both visible from a number of lodge windows.
“The beauty of our location is right outside the windows,” contends Lapasin, who noted that the nearest observation platform for the falls is just 20 yards away from the lodge. “It’s an oasis of peace and tranquility away from urban life — an idyllic setting.”
And, did I mention the food?
The entrance to Salish Lodge & Spa during the evening.
One of the Lodge's guest rooms.
The pizza oven at Salish Lodge's Attic restaurant.
The restaurant, as well as many other parts of the lodge, offer views of the stunning Snoqualmie Falls.
Fresh biscuits drizzled with Salish honey, as part of the âHoney from Heavenâ dining experience at Salish Lodge.
Salish Lodge's vanilla and spice infused waffles.
Snoqualmie Falls History: From ‘Moon’ God to ‘Twin Peaks’
Snoqualmie Falls has long been recognized as one of the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Plummeting more than 260 feet from a rocky shelf, the falls is actually 100 feet taller than the famed Niagara Falls.
Legend of the local Native Americans explained how “Snoqualm” or “Moon the Transformer” created the world and fashioned the falls from a fish trap. The waterfall was supposed to let the salmon swim upstream. However, the plan did not work.
By the 1850s, settlers were arriving in the Snoqualmie Valley. In the 1870s, several logging operations floated logs over the falls and down the river to Puget Sound and Everett — until a railroad proved a more efficient innovation.
In the 1890s, a man by the name of Charles Baker saw other value in the roaring falls and built an underground power plant with generating equipment that is still working today. Baker’s vision has been expanded, and Puget Sound Energy now has five generators at the site, supplying enough power for thousands of homes in the region.
Some of the area’s more colorful history includes a tightrope walker who, in 1889, successfully teetered his way over the falls. Another daredevil in the 1890s, Charlie Anderson, tried to parachute into the canyon and didn’t fare as well. As a crowd of people watched, the wind caught his parachute and slammed him into a boulder, resulting in his death.
In much more recent years, Snoqualmie Falls again drew special attention as exterior shots for the television show, “Twin Peaks,” were filmed in the area, beginning with a 1990 pilot. Both the falls and Salish Lodge were shown.