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Columbia River Gorge Area

The Columbia River Gorge is a 75-mile canyon through the Cascades, with the picturesque Columbia River cutting through it and dividing the states of Washington and Oregon. As you head East from Portland on I-84 and head towards Hood River, where the Gorge ends, you will experience some of the best vistas Oregon has to offer. With numerous falls and even more hiking trails, this area is an outdoor adventurers delight.

The Vista House at Crown Point - This is a popular viewpoint you will first pass on your way to Multhnomah Falls. A steep, windy drive uphill takes you to the historic Vista House, which was closed when we went, due to Covid. Along the way, you will pass Portland Womens Forum Scenic Viewpoint, where you can stop for a quick phot op of the breathtaking view of the Vista House sitting atop a cliff nearby.

There is ample free parking around the Vista House, and no admission charge to enter the House, when open. With a view of the Columbia River for miles, it gives a great perspective on the enormity of the river and the valley below. This place is best visited around sunset when the whole valley is aglow with the warm light of the setting sun.

Multnomah Falls - 15 miles east of the Vista House is everyone's famous Falls, the Multnomah! This majestic two-tiered waterfall plummets over 600ft and lets you experience the power and beauty of nature up close. As you drive on I-80, you will hear the roaring thunder of the falls from a couple of miles away. According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe.

Although the parking lot is quite massive, due to the popularity of the falls, finding a spot can be hard later in the day. Many times the traffic gets backed up for a few miles on I-80 due to cars waiting for parking. As you enter the Falls area, you will encounter a gift shop, a restaurant serving Northwestern cuisine and well maintained restrooms.

The falls viewing area is just a few feet from the gift shop which will give you your very first mind-boggling perspective of the sheer magnitude of the falls. For an even closer look, walk another several hundred feet up the paved trail to reach Benson Bridge, which spans the falls at the first tier's misty base. Standing on the bridge, you will have the perfect, although wet, view of the top-tiers full height and the second tiers sheer drop. If you have the time, follow the trail to hike to Multnomah Falls upper viewpoint, with splendid views of the Columbia River Gorge along the way.

Wahclella Falls - Another two-tiered falls, less than 10 miles east of Multnomah Falls is Wahclella Falls. An easy 2.4 miles out and back trail will lead you to this falls in the Cascade Locks area. The trailhead, just off of I-84 is easy to access with ample parking and pit toilets.


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