While perusing a tourist book about the state of Oregon, I came across information for a place that I had only heard mentioned once or twice. When I dug deeper, I was surprised to learn that the Columbia River Gorge was a highly recommended site to visit. I am so glad that I rearranged our schedule to make this area a one week stopover!
The plush green landscape was complimented by the beautiful Columbia river. The river carved the mountains into a lovely gorge filled with great recreation, an interesting history, and a magnificent series of hikes and waterfalls.
We drove the Historic Columbia River Highway, stopping off to visit the 100 year old Vista House. Its round shaped building with stained glass offered phenomenal views.
The area was part of the Lewis and Clark Trail of the early 1800’s. Lewis was commissioned by President Jefferson to find a direct trading route from the newly acquired Midwest territory to the Pacific Ocean.
To be honest, our kids weren’t really too interested in seeing the beauty of the waterfalls as much as we were. A few could even be seen from the road or parking area. Here are 3 very short trails leading to beautiful waterfalls in the area:
You can view this waterfall from the parking area. However, there is a short walk to the base of the falls, where you must stop to take pictures. The 2.3 mile Latourell Falls Loop Trail brings you up to the top of the falls and back down to the base.
If you are only looking for a view of the waterfall, it’s a quarter of a mile to Wahkeena Falls. However, a longer hike of 4.7 miles will take you on a loop past several falls.
The most famous stop is Multnomah Falls, the second highest waterfall in the United States. You can actually view this waterfall from the road, but you simply need to stop and take it in.
A very large visitor center (and parking area) allow you to shop, take bathroom breaks, and have some lunch. The viewing platform is spacious and crowded, but you can see both the upper and lower falls.
Visitors can climb up to the bridge between the two, via the Multnomah Falls Trail, and pose for photos. It’s only a mile to the top. I highly encourage you to do this! It’s a great view!
There are 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Canyon alone, all within about 15 miles from each other!
Here is a map of waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge:
I think I’d even venture to say that the Columbia River Gorge may be on my top 10 list of favorite places we have visited thus far!
Columbia River Gorge Resources:
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