Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area


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The Columbia River Gorge NSA is managed by the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. We knew we had to see the famous waterfalls while we were in Oregon and we decided to tour the gorge with Sea to Summit tours. We met our guide Shahn by Pioneer Square in Portland and loaded into a comfortable minibus for our full day tour.
Shahn drove us along the Historic Columbia River Highway stopping at numerous waterfalls, vista point, a dam and salmon ladder, an orchard and other picturesque places, culminating with a stop at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. Shahn kept us entertained during drive time and at each stop with the history of the places we saw and advising the best places for photos, snacks, etc… We never would have fit all of this into one day if we’d tried to do it on our own, and my husband would have been cranky from all the driving and trying to find parking. I highly recommend seeing the area with Sea to Summit.

Day9-IMG_6369Vista House: Our first stop was the Vista House at Crown Point. This historic landmark observatory was built in 1916 and has views up and down the Columbia River from its perch on the Cliff.

0Day9-IMG_6376Latourell Falls: The first waterfall we stopped at was Latourell Falls. There is an easy path from the parking lot to the base of the falls. It was here that I discovered that I’d packed the wrong foot for my tripod, so no pretty long exposure waterfall pics for me.  And I felt pretty foolish having lugged the heavy thing across the country and up and down the pacific northwest for no good reason.

0Day9-IMG_6393Multnomah Falls: The most visited tourist attraction in Oregon, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state and proclaims itself to be the second tallest in the US. We walked up the path to the bridge over the lower tier and explored the small museum in the historic lodge0Day9-IMG_6433

Horsetail Falls: This skinny waterfall, resembling a horse’s tail is only a few steps away from the parking lot. We jumped out, snapped a few photos and moved on to the next stop.

0Day9-IMG_6449Bonneville Lock and Dam: This Dam on the Columbia River is managed by the US Army. The visitor center has some interesting displays and an underwater viewing area of the salmon bypassing the Dam via the salmon ladder. We stood outside for a while watching the salmon jump up the ladder (and the birds of prey swooping in for an easy lunch.)0Day9-IMG_6454


16 thoughts on “Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

    1. Thanks! I’m glad the video played for you…I had to retrieve it from my social media in a roundabout way.Definitely a must see…thank goodness Multnomah survived last summer’s wildfires!

  1. As an Oregonian since the age of twelve when we moved from Ohio, I still thrill at the Columbia Gorge. Don’t be discouraged by reports of the disastrous fire which destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres late last year. The trails have reopened and nature has done its amazing recovery work.

    On a recent hike to Upper Horsetail Falls, we heard people say as they were getting into their car, “And to think, we traveled to Hawaii to see the waterfalls!” And don’t forget the Mt Hood Loop Highway on the way back to Portland – from Hood River, majestic views of the East side of Mt. Hood and a chance to hit historic Timberline Lodge. Then again, as Thebeercaser, I would be remiss in not pointing out a great breweries in Cascade Locks and right across the River in White Salmon. Cheers.

    1. True that fire, while scary and tough on human infrastructure, is nature’s way of renewing itself. We did pass through the area that had wildfires last year in Montana and the forest is already recovering. We did go up to Mt Hood on that 2016 trip…I don’t think I’ve written the post yet. Will have to get my photos together.

  2. Pingback: National Parks USA Mount Hood National Forest: Timberline Lodge

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