Bridges and waterfalls – exploring the Colombia River Gorge in Oregon

hood river to portland

Our journey started in the town of Hood River – which we were very impressed with (and planned to return to) and a very quick stop at Cascades Lock to take a picture of the Bridge of the Gods (this bridge featured in Cheryl Strayed’s book “Wild”, a memoir of her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail). We then hopped off the I-84 to take the historic Columbia River Highway. This is the road that Sam Hill persuaded the Oregon Legislature to build. Along this road there are several waterfalls. In the summer months the falls see their lowest water flows, but they were the nonetheless spectacular.

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Bridge of the Gods

We checked out several falls including Horsetail Falls, Bridal Falls, Latourell Falls and Multnomah Falls. The latter of which is the highest set of falls in Oregon. These falls drop in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet (165 m) and a lower falls of 69 feet (21 m). They are also the most visited falls along this scenic highway and today is no exception. There were hoards of tourists, which was made all the worst by the ease of access … park your car and walk a few steps and there you are!

As I get older I get more impatient and frustrated with the antics of tourists so it was a much more pleasurable experience to take the path less visited to Bridal and Latourell Falls. At the Latourell we were able to go right down to the base of the falls – I decided to wimp out and not get soaked as we still had some distance to go – but Karen was willing to go in for a swim (which she didn’t … all talk, no action!)

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Multnomah Falls
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Horsetail Falls
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Latourell Falls

From the falls area we carried on along the historic highway which was splendidly twisted as it wound its way out of the Columbia River Gorge. There are occasional glimpses of the sparkling waters of the Columbia far below. At the summit of the climb we reach Vista Point, which has a quaint observatory, which was closed due the excessive heat! But the views down to the gorge below were truly spectacular.

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Vista Point
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Folly at Vista Point
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View down the Columbia River towards Portland

 

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