Have you ever traveled through the Pacific Northwest? This lush, green, and beautiful region in the United States have some of the best views and sights around. The natural beauty surrounding this area with its dense forests, clean rivers, and snow-tipped mountains is awe-inspiring. A day in the Pacific Northwest could consist of snowboarding on Mt. Hood, visiting the coast at Seaside, exploring the city in Portland or Seattle, or hiking through one of the many trails and waterfalls that are around. One area particularly densely filled with waterfalls is the Columbia River Gorge. Let’s take a photographic journey through this area and see the sights for ourselves.
As we drive East on I-84 from Portland, Oregon, there are more and more trees around us. Passing several state parks along the way, we finally find our exit – the Historic Columbia River Highway. This highway was carved on the side of the hills, along a beautiful forest road. To get an idea of the area, we first arrive at the top of a viewpoint on the way up to the waterfalls. The viewpoint lets us see the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. On the right side is Washington, while on the left side is Oregon. The Columbia River flows from the Pacific Ocean. It is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, stretching from British Columbia, Canada through Washington and to Oregon. This river stretches over 1,200 miles. Back at the viewpoint, winds frequently pick up to speeds of 20 mph or more due to the high elevation. The air is quite cool during most of the year, although it can get quite chilly when the rains come during September-March. Continuing on the Historic Columbia River Highway, we reach our next major stop – Multnomah Falls.
A waterfall that receives 2 million visitors a year is nothing to scoff at. These falls have a drop of 620 ft., boasting the record of being the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. Multnomah Falls is not only special for the view, but there is a short hike of just over a mile long that is short and sweet. The hike is recommended for all ages and the inexperienced as well as the experienced. The serene evergreen trees and the sound of the water plunging down in the background make for a great hike. After the hike, there is an ice cream shop, restaurant, and gift shop at the bottom waiting for you. I’ve personally been to the Falls over 100 times in my life, but never once have I or the group I went with been disappointed with the view. One-quarter of the way up, there is a bridge that you can stand on that’s facing the falls. It’s about 80 ft. away from the waterfall, but it’s still close enough to feel the only caution is that because Multnomah Falls has gotten so busy in the last few years, it’s recommended that you do not try to visit during the busy season (mid-summer) or during holidays. On these days, the insane traffic and limited parking may mean that you might not have a chance to even get out and see the waterfall.
As you hike up the 1.1 miles, you’ll encounter dozens of people on their way down with smiles on their faces. These people likely enjoyed what they saw at the top – and you will too! The elevation is not very steep, and the hiking trail itself is very well paved. Dangerous areas are usually roped off. There are also a few benches to sit on for those of us who can’t make it up in one go. Once you get close to the top, you’ll hear the rush of water get louder and louder. It is surprising how close to the top of Multnomah Falls you can get once you arrive. See the picture above? That was taken from only about 20 ft. away from the point where the water spills over the edge. It’s thrilling to be so close to the edge, with the amount of water rushing down 620 ft. It’s quite loud when you are there in person. Each trip to the Columbia River Gorge in the Pacific Northwest is always a reason for joy – hopefully, you’ll get to enjoy that one day too!