Columbia River Gorge, just east of Portland, combines scenic vistas with spectacular waterfalls.
Exploring Columbia River Gorge Scenic Recreation Area
A wide expanse, tho wet thereof
The Columbia River, gorges with love
And winding through, a precious belt
Drivers met with visage svelt.
Sending hearts on gloried flights.
Watching diamonds from the heights.
Pouring down A crystal crown
Rains supreme from craggy brow.
Falling, gushing to their vow.
Rushing down to lover meet with swift and frothy feet-
Destined to unite below, so fulfills their awe-filled flow.
TROUTDALE, Ore. — Among the highlights of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are it's string of eight major waterfalls — that's right, eight — all situated along a 2-mile route located 20 minutes east of Portland.
The main jewel here is the towering Multnomah Falls, which plunges 621 feet over two pools, making it the second largest year-round water fall and the fifth largest overall in the U.S. This top Oregon sight is not to be missed. Give yourself a full day to appreciate this rugged and awe-inspiring sight.
Though I-84 is the fastest way to get from Portland to the Gorge, the most scenic and recommended route is via the Historic Columbia River Highway, 16 miles east of Portland. First opened in 1915, it was deemed an engineering feat by providing motorists with a safe, accessible view of the Gorge.
But before you reach anything, your first stop at the Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, which offers the first glimpse of the Gorge's size and grandeur. One mile after that: the art deco-styled Vista House, seated more than 700 feet above the river at Crown Point. We were too captivated by the spectacular view to notice the exhibits inside the Vista House.
From there, the historic highway dips down into the Gorge and passes a series of waterfalls. Many of them, including Latourell Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, have 2 to 4 miles hiking loops that contain smaller, waterfalls, and interconnecting walkways. In any case, the waterfalls are immediately beside the highway or a short walk from it.
Multnomah Falls is the areas largest, most famous waterfall. A steep paved trail leads from the foot of the falls to the top of the first pool with an arched bridge that spans across. From the bridge, look up for a closer view of the first spillway. Then turn around to see the second 50-foot spillway cascading beneath you and tiny onlookers waving. Back at the bottom, the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge has a restaurant, snack bar and terrific gift shop.
Directions:To the Gorge, simply, hop on I-84 from Portland and head east. Follow the signs. To the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway, take I-84 east to Troutdale, exit 17. Go left onto the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway and follow south to the start of the byway.
For more information call (800) 551-6949