columbia gorge historic highway

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Columbia River Gorge 

On my way north from Mt. Hood National Forest I made it a point to stop in Hood River and continue East toward Portland along the Columbia River Gorge National Recreation area. The Historic Columbia River Highway passes through a highly concentrated area of impressively picturesque waterfalls. The largest and most well know can be seen right off of the highway, or you can choose to take several combinations of (pretty challenging) trails to meander through the mountainside find the lesser visited sites. It was hard to capture the true beauty of some of these falls due to the sunlight, mist, or their vertical height, but the scenery was incredibly memorable nonetheless.

My itinerary for the visit was as follows:

  • Hiked a 3mi loop from Horsetail Fails to Ponytail Falls and Lower Oneonta Falls
  • Stayed a night at Ainsworth State Park where I got a campsite with full hookup and hot showers for $24.00 
  • Hiked a 5mi loop from Multnomah Falls to Wiesendanger Falls, Fairy Falls, and Wahkeena Falls.
  • Ate some lunch at Latourell Falls
  • Stopped at the Vista House viewpoint
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For the last day of the trip, we drove up the Columbia river gorge on the historic highway ( by which I mean, a narrow twisty road, but with spectacular views). Apparently everybody else who had come to the area for the eclipse and stayed an extra day was doing the same thing, it we kind of expected that.

There were about three things I really wanted to see, and we managed two of them. (The third was Mt. Hood, which we did see looming faintly in the distance when we were driving in the day before, along with Mt. St. Helens, which I had had no idea was so close to Portland, relatively speaking. Anyway, due to the now somewhat expected smoky haze, the visibility didn’t allow for views of any of the big volcanoes, so we skipped the drive up to the top of Larch Mountain.)

However, I very much wanted to see Multnomah Falls, and at that, we were successful. At top, enjoy a slightly off-center view, a gif of the water falling, and The Famous View, which is the one in ALL the photos and paintings. It was pretty great, even with the heavy crowds.

The other stop was Vista House, a 1925 structure on a promontory. The lovely exterior photo of same is thanks to one of my traveling companions, Nicole, because like a dope I forgot to take one. (Also I apologize for essentially two of the same photo, looking east; I don’t know what I was thinking there, and I can’t seem to edit it now.). Anyway, lovely views despite the haze.

And then with a visit to Salt & Straw, a gourmet ice cream place with wacky flavors, our trip to the Northwest was essentially over!

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