The Columbia River Gorge, located in the Pacific Northwestern United States, is a popular tourist destination for many in the region, and it’s not hard to see why: The scenic canyon is home to wineries, cozy hotels, miles of hiking, and countless waterfalls. From waterfalls and an urban grotto to ancient caves and breathtaking scenic overlooks, here are the most incredible gems along the Columbia River Gorge.
Ape Cave, the longest continuous lava tube in the United States at a length of 2.5 miles, is a popular destination for outdoor adventurers, but don’t expect to find any monkeys here. The cave is named for the Mt. Saint Helens Apes, a Boy Scout troop that was among the earliest explorers of the cave. Featuring both lower and upper regions, the cave stays at a consistent temperature of around 40°, and no light penetrates the cave walls, so dress appropriately and bring a flashlight. And, during your visit, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the “Meatball”—a large ball of lava wedged into the ceiling of the cave!
Volcanic rocks, waterfalls, and beautiful bridges? Moulton Falls Regional Park has all of these and more. At the upper falls, adventurous visitors can jump off ledges into the cool water, while more low-key parkgoers can visit the lower falls to swim in the streams or even enjoy a relaxing picnic. Try to plan your visit for a weekday in order to avoid the crowds.
Also known as The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto in Portland is incredibly serene. Part shrine to the Virgin Mary, part botanical garden, anyone is welcome to explore the labyrinth, stroll around the ponds, check out the statuary, and just generally relax. The $5 elevator ride to the top of the cliffs is well worth the price for the view!
Just 30 minutes from Portland, the 611-foot-tall Multnomah Falls is another breathtaking photo op on your trip across the Pacific Northwest. Native American legend claims that a man made the waterfall in order to win over a princess who wanted a private place to take a bath. Make sure to stand on Benson Bridge, where you can get up close and personal with the roaring water between the fall’s tiers. Then, make sure to stop by the Multnomah Falls Lodge afterward to check out the postcards and indulge in their ice cream.
Located right outside of Portland, the Gorge is a sight to behold. Make sure to check out the spectacular view from Crown Point, and take time to visit the various vineyards scattered throughout the region. The Gorge offers epic opportunities for parasailing, kiteboarding, and windsurfing as well.
The Maryhill Stonehenge is a replica of England’s prehistoric Stonehenge, but unlike its European counterpart, this concrete henge in Maryhill, Washington, was created to honor victims of World War I. You don’t have to stand behind a rope and admire the structure from afar—here you can wander among the stones.
The campground at Memaloose State Park will be a magical experience for your family. The camp consists of wide-open meadow sites right next to the Columbia River, so you will have an unobscured view of the starry night above your head. And the park features full RV hookups, so your camper will be right at home.
From hidden waterfalls to a distillery with a golf course, the Pacific Northwest has a lot to offer everyone. Whatever your road trip bliss is, you’ll find it here on an unforgettable adventure!