Tumwater Falls are a series of cascades on the Deschutes River in Tumwater, Washington, United States, near where the river empties into Budd Inlet, a southerly arm of Puget Sound in Olympia.PutTumwater Falls Park into our Tumwater trip website and find out what's close by, where to stay, and where to head next.
The Deschutes River carved a course through glacial debris left after the Pleistocene ice age until it reached volcanic bedrock, forming the falls as it coursed down to Puget Sound.
Tumwater Falls was the site of New Market, the first European settlement in Western Washington. It was also the site of the now-defunct Olympia Brewing Company.
Olympia Light and Power Company constructed a dam and a hydroelectric power plant at the falls in 1890, a decade before the Snoqualmie Falls powerplant outside Seattle. The plant powered an Olympia–Tumwater streetcar, among other things. A dam at above sea level created a head for the powerhouse and still stands on the Deschutes River.
The Tumwater Falls created an impassable barrier to salmon until 1952, when a fish ladder was built by the Washington Department of Fisheries (now the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife), to provide salmon access to the newly constructed fish hatchery located immediately above the falls. Prior to the 1952 hatchery operations, the Deschutes river above the Tumwater Falls was a river system free of the influence of migrating and spawning salmon, an unusual ecological occurrence in the riparian systems of Puget Sound.
Tumwater Falls Park Reviews
I would guess we came at the worst time of year - winter - and it was still impressive. Soggy grass from the rain, a substantial part of the infrastructure is under construction so it will... more »
A great place for a walk to enjoy local scenery by the river. Great place to take photos too. Family and dog friendly. After your walk you can let the kids play on the park toys. In nice weather..... more »
I love this little gem in the middle of the bustling area of Olympia and Tumwater. When you walk the whole trail, you are almost teleported to a different world that feels so secluded from the hustle and bustle of the world around you. There are some pretty interesting plaques that explain the history of the falls from the late 1800's with the old Mill that was there, the power station, the original capital brewery, through the Olympia brewery, which closed in the early 2010's. There is a cool fish ladder where you can even watch the salmon spawn if you're lucky to be there during the spawning season. Very cool!
The upper loop is a lovely walk. Leashed dogs are allowed and its kid safe, but still keep an eye on them. There is also a great new park down below. Its a little bit of a walk so I suggest driving. Overall its a perfect oasis in the middle of Tumwater and is enjoyable in any season.
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