Each fall, salmon return to the rivers and streams of the Olympic Peninsula to migrate upstream to their birth places where they spawn and re-initiate the life cycle process. One of the best places to view a salmon run is the Salmon Cascades of the Sol Duc (also spelled Soleduck) River, where coho salmon can be seen from late September into early November. A small platform is located above the waterfall, but better viewing can be achieved by traversing down to the rocks below. Worn paths provide clear travel, but care should be taken around the tree roots and wet rocks.
The activity level of the salmon varies, but it tends to increase with stronger river currents after periods of rain. In addition to viewing jumping salmon in the cascade waterfall, the pools downstream offer an opportunity to view additional salmon that are "staging" and conserving energy before continuing their journey onward upstream. If nothing else, the cascades are a neat place to enjoy fall colors and rushing waters.
The Sol Duc River gets its name from the Quiluete Native American word meaning "sparkling waters." The river originates in the northern Olympic Mountains and takes a meandering course westward to the Pacific Ocean. Just prior to the reaching Pacific coast, it joins the Bogachiel River to form the Quillayute River (also spelled Quileute River). Additional salmon and fish species, including chinook salmon and steelhead trout, can be found in the river at other times in the year.