We Headed For The Columbia River Gorge In Oregon
It was fun to explore the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. We did not plan enough time when we visited Oregon. But we were glad we got a taste of the beauty along this waterway.
Great Water Views In Oregon
We travelled along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) for road trips in California several times. The views were stunning. And this drive was high on many travel wish lists.
But the Oregon coast had similar stunning views. The Oregon Coastal Highway follows the coast. At times we were high over the water with views down over rocks and trees. We saw a large resort perched on the hill. And imagined how awesome it would be to stay there.
When the highway came down to water level, we got views of crashing waves. And quiet inlets with sand.
The coastal drive in Oregon was certainly one of the reasons to visit.
Head Inland Along The Columbia River Gorge
We chose to get explore the Columbia River Gorge by car from the Oregon side. Although we heard there were some great options to travel at the water level.
State Route 14 followed the Columbia River on the Washington side and Interstate 84 (I84) was on the Oregon side. There were four bridges that crossed from one side of the river to the other. The bridges are located at Cascade Locks, Hood River, The Dalles and Biggs in Oregon and Stevenson, Bingen, Dallesport, and Maryhill in Washington.
From Portland, we headed to I84. Across the river was Vancouver, Washington. We always found it strange to find Vancouver in Washington. Since we spent so much time in Vancouver, British Columbia!
There were many exits along I84 to see different sights along the Columbia River. We left I84 at exit 22 to travel along the Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH). This Oregon Scenic Byway is 74 miles long. Although we only travelled part of this on our first visit.
We were on our way to explore the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.
Viewpoints Along The Columbia River Gorge
The highway climbed up and away from the river. There were several places to stop for panoramic views over the river gorge – the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint and Vista House At Crown Point.
When we stopped we had a great view of the entire Columbia River basin. We started our drive early in the day. So the view was still a bit hazy in the distance. But by 10am the haze was all burned off.
Our first view certainly excited us to explore more.
Hiking To See The Waterfalls
Bridal Veil Falls State Park was located near milepost 28. We parked the car and headed for a short hike along the path.
The short trail started out paved but changed to gravel. We crossed the Bridal Veil Creek on a wooden bridge. We saw the water as it ran across the rocks and then heard the water cascading down the falls. A small set of steps took us to a viewpoint opposite the falls.
We stopped several other times at points along the Oregon Scenic Byway. There were a number of trails to explore rated from easy to difficult.
Spend Some Time At Multnomah Falls
On this visit, we really wanted to see Multnomah Falls. This waterfall cascaded down 620 feet from Larch Mountain. We read that it was the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States.
The water levels varied during the year. So we were happy to find the flow high as it fell down the rock face and under the iconic Benson Bridge. This was the picture that everyone wanted!
We got our views of the waterfall from the bottom. There were walking paths that took us to both overlook points and to the falls directly.
But from the information centre a 2.4 mile round trip trail climbed to the top of Multnomah Falls. This trails provided great views of the falls and the Columbia River Gorge. It was then possible to hike for another six miles to the top of Larch Mountain or take the six mile Wahkeena Loop trail.
We spent some time as we explored this beautiful waterfall. Multnomah Falls was definitely one of the reasons to explore the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.
Turned Around At The Bonneville Dam
We only had a short day to enjoy the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. So we decided to turn around at the Bonneville Dam.
The Bonneville was the first dam on the Columbia River and a national historic landmark. Built in 1937, it allowed ocean-going vessels to navigate upriver past the treacherous Cascade rapids. The main visitor centre was located on Bradford Island off of I84. There was also another visitor centre on the Washington side off Washington Highway 14. Both visitor centres had different displays.
We stopped at the Bonneville Dam to marvel at the engineering. And we saw an underwater view of the fish ladder.
We took the fast route back along I84. It was a short but interesting day trip.
Explore The Columbia River Gorge In Oregon
We were glad we took the opportunity to explore the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. But when we went out for the day, we did not understand there were so many stops along the route. And so much to see and do.
There were also ways to explore the Columbia River Gorge by boat. And companies like UnCruise Adventures offered 7 night cruises that other travel bloggers raved about.
There were 26 waterfalls and 3 different dams. Over 40 different hiking trails offered something for everyone with all levels of difficulty and length. There was definitely so much more to see than what we got on a one day trip.
Have you taken the opportunity to explore the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon? Did you drive or explore on the water?
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