Opinion | The Valley is a visitor destination. Now what? (Check out our Visitor's Guide)

Until last year, you used to find high-tech treasure hunters called 'geocachers' exploring the side wall of Sno Falls Brewing Company. A Simpsons candy keg, containing a micro-GPS transmitter, brought the cachers up to, and sometimes into the building. Hundreds of visitors signed their name on the tiny guest register in 2010—an amazing, untapped potential.

The problem with Homer’s candy, and so many other attractions in the Valley, is that they’re so often below the radar.

When King County Executive Dow Constantine visited two years ago, he called on the Valley to pull together and put its strengths front and center. Now, in 2012, we still have some ways to go.

Snoqualmie Falls alone draws millions of people a year, but just to walk from the Falls to nearby downtown Snoqualmie is more challenging than it should be. Downtown improvements happening in all Valley cities are a good start, as are the burgeoning summer events—is there a weekend free in the summer anymore?—but there’s more to be done.

Now, the Valley’s challenge is to find ways to synchronize its efforts. Not every district has the same blessings as downtown Snoqualmie businesses right next to major attractions and plentiful parking. Creative thinking that involves techbnology and cooperation is what’s called for, so all boats rise on tourism’s tide.

With tourism in mind, check out this week's newspaper edition, or go online to our Green Editions . In this edition, you’ll find our annual summer Valley Visitor’s Guide. In it, we profile and promote as many businesses and destinations as we can, with the visitor or the local family acting as Valley tour guides in mind.

This edition ranges from Snoqualmie Falls, Mount Si, Rattlesnake Lake and the Northwest Railway Museum—the big ones—to perhaps lesser-known destinations like Snoqualmie Ridge’s Stillwater Bog and trails, the Falls Forest Theatre, or the Si View Farmer’s Market.

We also plug the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce’s two visitor’s centers, in North Bend and Snoqualmie. I can personally vouch for the center in Snoqualmie. I’ve seen fewer more welcoming places; even on a cold, stormy day, you can step into the historic surroundings, get your bearings, then head off to your next Valley adventure.

Of course, some things get left on the cutting room floor. I intend to someday do more generous profiles of places like Railroad Park’s Centennial Log, Mailbox Peak, local woodcarvers, kayaking, those geocachers I mention above, and the hundreds of other fascinating facets of this place that even residents rarely discover. We’re only just scratching the surface.


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