Scenic USA - Washington

Sunset Falls

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Sunset Falls - Index, Washington

Photo by Jim Stiles
Jim Stiles Photography

     The combination of an imposing Northern Cascade Range and the Skykomish River's plummet toward the sea on the Puget Sound signals a dramatic stretch of scenery along Washington's U.S. Route 2. From Stevens Pass, one of the few breaks in the Northern Cascades, U.S. Route 2 follows the Skykomish River. As you may well imagine Cascade snowfalls, often measured in feet instead of inches, keep the river at high levels for a good part of the year.
     Sunset Falls is the largest of the three major waterfalls on the South Fork of the Skykomish. Here the river shoots down a granite slope to a beautiful aqua-green pool below. With the right water flow, depressions in the rock create some pretty impressive rooster tails that shoot out from the 104 foot drop. From Sunset Falls westward, an incredible whitewater run entertains experienced kayakers and squirt boaters with solid Class III rapids.
     This chilly scene, taken a few years ago, puts on a classic winter show at Sunset Falls. Unfortunately, since then vandalism has spoiled the access to the falls. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed the road to their facility limiting access. Further access over private property is also frowned upon, although some reports indicate you may walk to the falls from a private road on the opposite side of the river. Until accommodations for access are re-established, we all can enjoy this frosty scene.

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