A Day in the Columbia Gorge, Oregon- Part 1
Last month we spent a day in the Columbia Gorge, Oregon, with Legendary Adventures of Anna. Anna was traveling through Oregon for a couple weeks and we were happy to have her stay with us. We were also happy to road trip through the Columbia Gorge to visit a few places with Anna that she wanted to see while in Oregon. Many of these places we had on our own Pacific Northwest Bucket List of places we wanted to visit before we leave Oregon. It worked out perfect!
We headed out for the day on the Historic Columbia River Highway- America’s Greatest Scenic Drive. A beautiful drive, any time of the year, we were especially lucky with a bright sunny day. With so many waterfalls cascading over the walls of the Gorge, it can be hard to decide which ones to stop at. Our first stop was at the Vista House at Crown Point.
Vista House at Crown Point
Since 1918, Vista House, an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia can be viewed, has welcomed millions of travelers. From its surrounding vantage point 733 feet above the Columbia River all are treated to one of Oregon’s most inspiring views. Once called “Thor’s Heights,” Crown Point is a basalt promontory shaped by the same volcanic lava flows, floods, and winds that created the Columbia River Gorge. Cited for its “exceptional value in illustrating the natural history of the U.S.,” it was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1971.
As we drove along Historic Columbia River Highway there were so many sights to take in along the way. Besides all the waterfalls, Vista House, and gorgeous views, there are numerous hiking trails and picnic areas. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to decide what to fit in your day in the Columbia Gorge, Oregon.
We first came upon Latourell Falls, just off the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. These falls are barely visible from the highway and can be easy to miss. A short walk down a steep paved path leads to a clear viewpoint and then the base of the falls. Latourell Falls plunges 224 feet over a massive wall of some of the Pacific Northwest’s best columnar basalt formations. This waterfall is also recognized for its large patch of bright yellow lichen adorning the cliff face to the right of the falls.
Be careful along this path. There are nettles, poison oak, and other unfriendly plants along the hillside. I accidentally brushed against some nettles and regretted it the second I did. Nettles really do hurt, burn, and itch as bad as you’ve heard. Take my word for it, you don’t want to touch these things.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s number one natural visitor attraction, is the second highest year-round waterfall in the US. Plummeting 620 feet, the waterfall is fed by rain, snow-melt, and underground springs from Larch Mountain. Multnomah Falls is one of the best places in the Gorge to view basalt rock formations exposed by Ice Age floods. Because of this, it is also incredibly busy all day long and what we refer to as the Disneyland of waterfalls. The earlier you go, the less people will be there.
After numerous waterfalls and majestic views, we were only just getting our day started. We still had so much to see ahead of us during our day in the Columbia Gorge, Oregon. We continued down the highway towards Hood River, the Fruit Loop, and Punchbowl Falls.
Have you ever visited any of the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013, unless otherwise noted.