Tumwater Falls Park

The most ambitious project undertaken by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) was construction in 1962 of a 15-acre park along the falls of the Deschutes River. Still owned and maintained by OTF, Tumwater Falls Park continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

In the small, historic city of Tumwater, Washington, the Deschutes River ends its journey from the shoulders of the Cascade range and tumbles a final 82 feet into Capitol Lake, once the final reach of Puget Sound. Here, bordering the banks of the river, is Tumwater Falls Park, providing the visitor with 15 acres filled with natural, picturesque beauty and year-round atmosphere of enjoyment for all ages.

A wide variety of native trees and shrubs line both sides of the river as it pitches and eddies through a gorge of boulder rapids and deep pools, its course culminating in a mist-filled plunge over Tumwater Falls.

One-half mile of walking trails are highlighted by cascading waterfalls, reflective pools, and massive rocks. Spanning the river at both ends of the gorge and connecting the network of trails are footbridges designed for compatibility with the surroundings and historic accuracy.

At the upper reaches and entrance to the Park, visitors will find wide expanses of beautifully maintained lawns, picnic facilities, a sand-filled area for children featuring uniquely designed play items, immaculate restrooms, and ample parking.

Park visitors enjoying the scenery at Tumwater Falls Park.
Construction of Tuwmater Falls Park, 1963.
Adolph “Bump” Schmidt (Left) And Trueman “Bink” Schmidt (Right) discussing construction plans for Tumwater Falls Park.

Tumwater Falls Park History

While some visitors may assume this is a city or state facility, Tumwater Falls Park is owned by the private, non-profit Olympia Tumwater Foundation. It is open to the public at no charge but receives no government support for staffing or maintenance. If you enjoy the use of its picnic area, playground, or walking trails, please consider making a donation to help with the cost of keeping Tumwater Falls Park beautiful, safe, and clean.

Delighting Visitors for Over Half a Century

In the winter of 1962 Olympia Tumwater Foundation announced plans to build a new scenic park near the falls of the Deschutes River.

With luck it would be finished in time for the summer tourist season, when thousands of travelers would pass through Tumwater on their way to the Seattle World’s Fair. A regional labor strike that spring put the project behind schedule, but the playground and picnic tables were installed by July and the rest of Tumwater Falls Park was largely completed by fall.

Land for the 15-acre park was donated by the Olympia Brewing Company, whose offices, brew house, and cellars rose above the east bank of the property. Features of the completed park included paths along both sides of the canyon, two footbridges over the river, and an observation platform below the Lower Falls. Newly constructed “waterfalls,” fed by water pumped from the Deschutes, splashed through ferns and moss-covered rocks on either side of the gorge.

Tumwater Falls Park Frequently Asked Questions

Is the park owned by the city or state?

Neither. Tumwater Falls Park has always been privately owned by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, since it opened its gates in 1962.

Does it cost money to enter the park?

No, the park is free to the public.

What about weddings in the park?

We no longer take reservations or charge a fee for weddings. All we ask is that your event does not disrupt normal Park operations or disturb other patrons. No music, tents, or blocking trails / bridges please.

What time do the restrooms close?

The restrooms close when the park closes each day.

Can I bring my dog to the park?

Yes, you can bring your dog but it must be on a leash at all times, you must pick up after it, dispose of its feces properly, and supervise it at all times. Pet bag stations are provided throughout the park for your convenience. If your pet shows aggressive behavior it must be removed from the park at once.

Can I bring my bike to the park?

No bicycle riding is allowed on the pedestrian walking trails. Bicycles are allowed only in the park’s parking lots.

Is the park ADA accessible?

Yes and no. The park is ADA accessible everywhere but the pedestrian walking trail.

Can I take pictures in the park?

Yes, you are allowed to take pictures in the park while it is open. Please be considerate of others around you.

Do you have a lost and found?

Yes, please check with the Olympia Tumwater Foundation office (located in the park) during business hours if your lost item has been turned into the office.

Who should I report a problem to?

During business hours report any problems to the Olympia Tumwater Foundation office, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until dusk. After hours call 911.

Tumwater Falls Park Attractions

Riverwalk Tours

Waterfalls

Pedestrian Trails

Tumwater Falls Bridge

Washington Salish Native Plant Garden

Historical Markers

Tumwater Falls Fisheries

Salmon Return

Historic District

Visiting & Contact

Park Hours

Open every day 8:00 a.m. until approximately 30 minutes before sunset – will vary with the seasons.
Current Hours are 8:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.

Email

OTF@olytumfoundation.org

Physical Address

110 Deschutes Way SW
Tumwater, WA 98501
corner of “C” Street and Deschutes Parkway

CONTACT OLYMPIA TUMWATER FOUNDATION

Get In Touch Today!

Mailing Address: P.O Box 4098, Tumwater, WA 98501

Physical Location: 110 Deschutes Way SW (Tumwater Falls Park), Tumwater, WA 98501

(360) 943-2550

OTF@olytumfoundation.org

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