Index is a spectacular town in the foothills of the Cascade Range, just 2 hours drive from Seattle.
This breathtaking town is on the banks of the Skykomish River, with soaring views of Mt Index and the Wild Sky Wilderness. It was named after the vertical rock formation at Mt Index that resembles an index finger.
A sheer granite wall rises 1,200 feet behind the township, known as the Index Town Wall, serving as a spectacular backdrop to the town. This wall is extremely popular with rock climbers, and is recognized nationally.
History: Index was originally founded as a mining and logging town in 1889, with a population that reached 1,000 people. Today there are less than 200 people living here, in a charming cluster of historic cottages in the shadow of these dramatic peaks.
Amenities: Index WA has a few amenities, including a historic hotel, restaurant, general store, museum, and outdoor activities center. Visitors are attracted to the recreational opportunities here, like hiking, climbing, rafting and kayaking. It’s also close to Steven’s Pass for skiing. Discover some popular hikes to nearby waterfalls, like Bridal Veil Falls and Wallace Falls.
Road conditions: Index can get heavy snow during winter, so always check road conditions. It's located 1.5 miles off Highway 2.
10 best things to do in Index WA
1. Bush House Inn
The Bush House Inn has been the heart and soul of the Index community since 1898. It's the only surviving hotel out of the 5 original hotels, when this was a boom town.
This 3-story Bush House Inn was established to service miners, loggers and railway workers, and has retained its original name. It fell into disrepair and was closed in 2010, but re-opened for business in 2021 after a significant renovation. Today there are 10 rooms and a cottage available to book, and two event spaces.
2. Bush House Restaurant & Cafe
Enjoy a meal at the Bush House Restaurant while gazing out at snowcapped peaks, or grab a coffee and pastry to-go (check hours). There’s also a tiny art gallery behind the restaurant, housed in the original horse stables.
3. Index Pickett Historical Museum
The Index Pickett Historical Museum is the original home of famed photographer, Lee Pickett, and is full of photographs and historic artifacts (check hours).
4. Skykomish River
The only public access to the Skykomish River from Index WA is down a short path near the museum. From here you get to the banks of the river, and peer up at the majestic mountains.
5. Outdoor Adventure Center
The Outdoor Adventure Center is on the banks of the Skykomish River, and offers lots of recreational activities, like guided rafting trips, kayaking instruction, summer camps, and e-bike rentals (check hours).
6. Riverfront Vacation Rentals
Index WA has a great selection of riverfront vacation homes for rent, where you can soak up this serene setting.
7. Hiking trails to waterfalls
Drop by the front desk of the Bush House Inn for information on hiking trails near Index WA. These include Wallace Falls (5 miles roundtrip), Bridal Veil Falls (4-miles roundtrip), and Deception Falls (0.5 miles roundtrip). There are some other popular hikes near Index WA, like the challenging hike to Lake Serene (8.2 miles roundtrip) or Heybrook Ridge (3.3 miles roundtrip).
8. Walk around town
Take a walk around the small town of Index WA, to see cute cottages, the general store, town hall, fire house, and museum.
9. Dolittle Pioneer Park playground
Dolittle Pioneer Park is in the center of town near the Elementary School, and has a playground to keep kids occupied.
10. Expresso Chalet
Espresso Chalet is a roadside coffee spot near Index, with incredible views. It was a filming location in the Harry and the Henderson’s movie (1987), instantly recognizable with the 14-foot Big Foot statue out front.
You can pick up coffee and treats here, and enjoy the distant views of Bridal Veil Falls and the snowcapped mountains from an overlook.