The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area protects the spectacular canyon where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade mountains - with cliffs and overlooks of Washington to the north and Oregon's mountains and waterfalls to the south. The Gorge is unique in its natural and cultural history, as well as its designation as a National Scenic Area.
While the Columbia River Gorge Highway is a good way to see the gorge, most people miss a scenic viewpoint a short detour off the main road. About half a mile west of Vista House is a turnoff to Larch Mountain Road. Drive up the forested road to the summit, about 15 miles one way, and park in the Sherrard Point lot. Take the short hike up to the overlook and, on a clear day, view five mountains; Rainier, St Helens, Adams, Hood and Jefferson. To say the view is breathtaking is understatement. There is a picnic area too, so take a lunch with you and enjoy the views.
If you need better directions, stop at Vista House and ask the docents there for a map and instructions for the drive.
There are almost too many amazing places in the Gorge to try and explain it as a single place. The canyon is literally one of the most stunning places I have ever been to - with waterfalls running down every cliff face and deep pockets and hikes that break off in every direction. The Columbia river runs right through the middle and bald eagles hunt both from the cliffs and in the river as you drive/hike through.
There are a number of major 'Falls' in the area - the most amazing of which is Multnomah but also include Horsetail, Ponytail and Bridal Veil.
At the top of my bucket list for the area is Lower Oneonta Falls - a stunning area that can only be seen by wading/swimming down a canyon river.
This should be on everyones 'must see' list - especially if visiting Portland since it is only a 30-45 minute drive. We were not able to get anywhere close to fully exploring this area and I am hoping we get to spend a lot more time here.
Don't miss the Historic Columbia River Highway. It is an approximately 75-mile-long (121 km) scenic highway in the U.S. state of Oregon between Troutdale and The Dalles, built through the Columbia River Gorge between 1913 and 1922. As the first planned scenic roadway in the United States, it has been recognized in numerous ways, including a listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark, designation as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and considered a "destination unto itself" as an All-American Road by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Stunning beautiful scenes overlooking the Columbia River through old growth rain forest traveling on a two lane highway intended to show off the beauty and blend into the surroundings. The highway and bridges are a sight unto themselves.
As of Late may 2018, most of the historic highway is closed due to the fires in fall 2017.... but I’m glad I came. I got to see a few waterfalls, crown point vista, another overlook, and drive on some of the road. We went all the way to hood river and even the new highway is beautiful.
The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon cutting the only sea-level route through the Cascade Mountain Range. It's 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep with the north canyon walls in Washington State and the south canyon walls in Oregon. For a driving tour of the Gorge, drive the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway.
In the pantheon of great road trips, Columbia River Gorge is in the top tier. This is a must for everyone. And trip offers a fantastic reward, as your reach the town of Astoria at the Pacific Ocean. Amazing scenery, waterfalls, lush nature, great towns and pit stops, monuments, and the Vista House. The gorge has it all.
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Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
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