the Snoqualmie Yuletide Express
Crossing the train tracks to and from the Museum can be a challenge for wheelchairs. To the right of this photo is a blocked street that has some less deeply rutted rails. At one point the staffer covered the "canyons" with heavy cardboard, which worked. It might not be a bad idea to come prepared with a board or two if someone in the party is using a wheelchair.
It was a rainy day of December (12-4-21) we drove up to Snoqualmie WA for the Yuletide Express train ride to Snoqualmie Falls. I had dreamed about this little excursion for a couple years. Wisely I called ahead to check on accessibility, because it’s an historic train built in the days before ADA. They said they now have a lift to get me on the train, but since it’s an old train, they couldn’t accommodate any wheelchair wider than 24”. More about that below.
We left at 9:30am for the 1:30pm train ride, to leave leeway for traffic and weather delays. Our cloud navigator took us via Hwy 18, from I-5, and that’s a pretty way to go. Part of the way we saw skiffs of snow. We arrived in Snoqualmie at 12:30pm, which gave us time to refill the gas tank before getting to the Depot a half hour ahead of the train departure, as advised.
The Depot (Northwest Railway Museum)
I loved the old restored Depot. The gift shop is full of wonders, especially if you have a young train enthusiast, or someone interested in the historic.
The Yuletide Express train ride to Snoqualmie Falls
The lift to get me up to the train was more confidence-building than certain transit options I have experienced. It’s a bit unnerving to be several feet above ground when you are on wheels. But their lift had nice sides to prevent rolling over the edge.
They had to have me enter through the box car, but the doorway from there into the passenger car did not accommodate my 24” wide wheelchair, as the narrowest part of the doorway was only 23”. With the help of my companion, I was able to get to the nearest seat, but I couldn’t see much of anything from there. I did have time to note that the train needs plenty of TLC (and funds) to restore it to what I had imagined it would be.
In my mind I had pictured the train ride going up into the mountains to see the falls. But it’s a short, flat ride. It’s best to get a seat on the right side of the train to be able to see the falls. On the way the train passes the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Museum (accessed by car via SE 69th Place). I’m curious now about the Santa Limited from nearby North Bend, which is $10 more per person, but a much longer ride. I think it is pulled by the steam locomotive.
Below are sites about the river, the dam barely upstream from the Falls, and the power plant.
Snoqualmie Falls Park
Since we couldn’t get much of a view of the Falls from the train ride, I was all the more interested in trying to see the falls by driving there. It’s close. But again, the weather wasn’t encouraging to get out and try the trails. What river we had seen wasn’t sparkling clear that time of year, so that also didn’t invite getting out to wander about. I was happy to see that ADA parking is free there.
Right next to Snoqualmie Falls Park is the appealing, apparently popular Salish Lodge.
Snoqualmie’s downtown is a cute, quaint place to explore, though the December weather wasn’t very inviting for a stroll or a roll. Right next to the Northwest Railway Museum is the Railroad Community Park with picnic tables and the Snoqualmie Centennial Log. Restaurants and shops are just across the street.
Dinners from Herfy’s Burgers
As we drove into Snoqualmie, we were attracted by the red Milk Barn building, and what I misread as Hefty Burgers. It’s really Herfy’s Burgers. Although there are plenty of interesting restaurants in Snoqualmie, we decided to get our dinner at Herfy’s. My companion was hungry and got the triple burger, and it was hefty indeed. And juicy—be prepared for that. I ordered the salmon burger, and liked that, as well as some extra meals to try later. See photos below.
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I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.