When I was in art school, a professor told me that I never really managed to do things quite as had been asked or expected of me. “You always do good work, just not the work that was assigned to you.” Ten years later (and none the wiser), I am still doing (or NOT doing) just that. Today, I bring you the day trip that was really a weekend trip. Hope you enjoy it nonetheless!
My son and I started our journey to Fall Creek Falls State Park bright and (sort-of) early on a Friday. However, by the time I had driven back home twice to pick up various forgotten items, it was not so early anymore. The drive from our home in Bellevue to Fall Creek Falls took about two and a half hours. That put us arriving around 4pm. We drove straight into a small parking lot and walked for about 30 seconds before arriving at the main attraction. Two humongous waterfalls that you can’t really imagine. You seriously need to see them for yourself. I have seen some pretty impressive falls, but these are so high! We have had pretty dry weather all summer so they weren’t as rushing and voluminous as they usually are, but they still had me awestruck and my 18-month-old intimidated enough not to want to be too close to the railing of the overlook (or anywhere but in my arms). I have been told that it is an easy .4 mile hike to the bottom of the falls, where it is cool and filled with vegetation exclusive to these conditions, followed by a strenuous .4 mile hike back up again.
After ogling the falls for a small eternity, Gray was hungry (and I am always ready to eat). Luckily, I had planned ahead and made reservations that day at the Lodge at Fall Creek Falls. This 145-room hotel is the best. It is smack in the middle of the state park. There, you are surrounded by the beautiful preserve and your balcony overlooks the serene Fall Creek Lake. Plus, if you are a parent, you will be thrilled that this place has a heated pool and a huge playground. We ate at the inn’s restaurant, Gaul’s Gallery, that night and for every other meal we had through Sunday morning. It is a large restaurant with a killer view that offers a full menu, as well as a buffet, 3 times a day. It isn’t the Palm, but it is perfect for vacationing families—especially considering your other options are all at least 40 minutes away. A much needed update is in the planning stages for the inn. There are also 30 cabins, many already renovated, and over 2oo campsites, making this a perfect extended day trip.
The next morning, we headed out early after breakfast and checked out the cascades. These falls were more accessible, you can wade right out into them if you bring the right footwear. (Otherwise, you will just be slipping right into them.) Overhead, was a swinging bridge that was a rush for Gray and me and the dozen other kids I watched squeal their way across it. The walk to these falls from the Nature Center was an easy one, but if you are an avid hiker, fear not! There are over 34 miles of trails to hike, including 2 overnight trails.
Gray and I were having so much fun that we decided to stay an extra night. We met a lot of kids (and parents) while playing on the playground, had dinner, and then had a fun, late night dip in the baby pool after dinner. There are families all over this place. My son must have made a dozen little friends during our stay. It is so family-friendly that they even sell swim diapers in the gift shop—thank goodness!
In summation, at 2.5 hours away, Fall Creek Falls makes a great day trip. However, with so much to do and see and several great accommodations right in the park, why should it be?! Bring the whole family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, pets, random passersby—you are guaranteed a memorable stay.