After a bit of piecing together by me, and maybe 50 added words out of 4000, here's the Chat GPT sunset waterfall tour:
As we ride along Highway 30, we approach Horsetail Falls. The sound of rushing water grows louder and more distinct, until we finally arrive at the base of the falls. You feel a light mist in the air, cool and refreshing on your skin. The falls are named for their long, cascading shape that resembles the tail of a horse, and the water falls from a height of approximately 176 feet.
Looking around we see the lush forest that surrounds the falls, with tall trees that tower overhead and create a serene, natural setting. The air is filled with the scent of pine and cedar, and the occasional chirping of birds can be heard in the distance. The falls themselves are a stunning sight, with water cascading down the rocky cliffside and creating a small pool at the base. You can hear the sound of the water crashing onto the rocks and feel the cool breeze it creates.
If you're feeling adventurous, we can take a short hike to the top of the falls to get another waterfall. The hike is moderately steep and takes about 30 minutes, but the view from the top is well worth it. From here, you can see the upper horsetail falls from above, with a panoramic view of the surrounding forest and mountains in the distance.
As we take a closer look at the surrounding forests and meadows, you might notice some of the birds that inhabit this area, such as the Osprey, American Robin, the Rufous Hummingbird, or the Western Tanager. These birds are a common sight in the Columbia River Gorge and can often be heard singing their beautiful melodies from the treetops. If you're lucky, you might also spot the iconic Bald Eagle, which is known to nest in the area.
But it's not just birds that make their home here - you might also catch a glimpse of some of the mammals that live in the forests, like the Elk, Douglas Squirrel or the Black-tailed Deer. These animals are well-adapted to life in the Pacific Northwest and play an important role in the local ecosystem.
If you're interested in exploring the region's aquatic life, you might be able to spot some of the fish that swim in the nearby streams and rivers, like Chinook Salmon, Steelhead Trout, or Coho Salmon. These fish are an important part of the local food chain and are cherished by both humans and wildlife alike.
After taking in the beauty of Horsetail Falls, we'll get back on Gloria and head to our next stop, Multnomah Falls. As we ride along the scenic Highway 30, we'll pass through several used to be small towns and see more of the breathtaking natural beauty of Oregon. Multnomah Falls is only a short distance away, so we'll be there in no time.
We’re on The Historic Columbia River Highway, a scenic route in Oregon that winds through the Columbia River Gorge, offering breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding landscape. It is a historic landmark and a marvel of engineering, and it took over five years and a lot of hard work to build.
As we approach Multnomah Falls, you'll notice the iconic Benson Bridge, which spans the two-tiered waterfall and offers stunning views of the falls from above. The bridge is made of stone and was built in 1914 by Simon Benson, a local businessman who wanted to make the falls more accessible to visitors.
Beyond the falls, the surrounding area is full of natural beauty. The Columbia River Gorge stretches out before us, with towering cliffs and lush forests as far as the eye can see. You may spot various bird species such as ospreys and bald eagles flying overhead, as well as black bears, cougars, and bobcats in the surrounding wilderness.
In the water below, you may also see salmon swimming upstream during the fall spawning season, as well as other fish species like steelhead trout and rainbow trout. Keep an eye out for smaller creatures like salamanders, frogs, and various insect species that call this area home.
The history of Multnomah Falls and the surrounding area is also quite interesting. The falls are believed to have been formed millions of years years ago by a series of lava flows and erosion from the Columbia River. The area has been inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years, and there is evidence of their presence in the form of rock art and other artifacts found throughout the gorge.
When European settlers arrived in the 1800s, they began logging and mining in the area, which caused significant environmental damage. However, efforts to preserve the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge began in the early 1900s, and today it is a protected national scenic area that attracts 2.5 million annual visitors from all over the world.
Hopping back in the van, we’re now marveling at what went into this road.The original plan for the highway was to build it on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. The idea was proposed by Washington State Representative Sam Hill in 1913, and it was intended to connect Vancouver, Washington with The Dalles, Oregon.
However, when Samuel C. Lancaster was hired to design the highway, he suggested that it be built on the Oregon side of the Gorge instead. He argued that the Oregon side had more scenic beauty and was better suited for a scenic road. He also believed that it would be more economical to build the road on the Oregon side, as it would require less grading and fewer bridges.
Lancaster's idea was eventually accepted, and construction of the highway on the Oregon side began in 1915. It took five years to complete, and the road officially opened to the public on June 6, 1922. The highway was a huge success and quickly became a popular tourist attraction. Today, it is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
As we approach Wahkeena Falls, you'll notice that it's much smaller than the previous two falls we visited, but no less beautiful. The falls cascade down in a series of steps, with the mist creating a soft and ethereal atmosphere.
The surrounding area has a rich economic and cultural history. The nearby logging towns of Bridal Veil and Cascade Locks were once bustling centers of industry, with mills and factories providing employment for thousands of workers. However, the decline of the logging industry in the mid-20th century led to the closure of many of these mills and a significant economic downturn in the area.
Despite this, the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge has always drawn visitors and residents alike. Native American tribes such as the Chinook and Wishram have lived in the area for thousands of years, utilizing the natural resources of the gorge for fishing, hunting, and gathering. The Lewis and Clark expedition also traveled through the area in 1805, marveling at the stunning beauty of the landscape and the many waterfalls that dot the region.
As settlers began to arrive in the mid-19th century, they faced a challenging and often perilous journey along the Oregon Trail. Many of them would have stopped to rest and take in the natural beauty of the area, including the waterfalls we are visiting today. Life for these pioneers was tough, with long days of travel and constant worry about food, water, and safety.
In the later 19th century, logging crews began to arrive in the area, drawn by the rich timber resources of the surrounding forests. Life for these workers was also difficult, with long hours and dangerous working conditions in the mills and logging camps. However, their work helped to fuel the economic growth of the region and shape the landscape we see today.
As we take in the beauty of Wahkeena Falls and the surrounding area, it's important to remember the rich history and diverse cultures that have shaped this place over time. From the Native Americans who first called this area home, to the intrepid pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail, to the loggers and settlers who worked and lived here in the 19th and 20th centuries, each has left their mark on the landscape and helped to make it what it is today.
Gloria’s cooled down for us as we move on to the next stop, passing one of my favorite parts of this beautiful road.
The design of the Historic Columbia River Highway was heavily influenced by the scenic roads of Switzerland, which were known for their winding curves, picturesque landscapes, and stunning mountain views.
Samuel C. Lancaster, the chief engineer and designer of the highway, had visited Switzerland in the early 1900s and was impressed by the country's network of scenic roads. He returned to the United States with the idea of building a similar road in the Columbia River Gorge, which he believed had the potential to be one of the most beautiful and scenic highways in the world.
Lancaster's vision was to create a road that would blend harmoniously with the natural landscape of the Gorge, rather than simply bulldozing a path through the mountains. He sought to create a road that would provide breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery while also being safe and accessible for travelers of all kinds.
To achieve this goal, Lancaster designed a roadway with gentle curves and gradual grades that would follow the contours of the land. He also incorporated a number of scenic overlooks and viewpoints where travelers could stop and enjoy the views.
Overall, the design of the Historic Columbia River Highway was heavily influenced by the scenic roads of Switzerland, but was adapted to fit the unique landscape and conditions of the Columbia River Gorge. The result was a roadway that remains a testament to Lancaster's vision and the engineering and construction skills of the workers who built it.
The cost of building the Historic Columbia River Highway was approximately $4 million dollars, which was a significant sum of money at the time. The project was funded by a combination of state and federal funds, as well as private donations from local citizens and businesses.
The construction of the highway was widely regarded as a remarkable engineering feat at the time. The road was completed in 1922 and quickly became a popular destination for travelers from around the world, who came to marvel at the stunning scenery and enjoy the unique driving experience that the road provided.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, $4 million in 1922 would be equivalent in purchasing power to approximately $61.5 million in 2023 dollars. It's worth noting that the bike path they’re building now where they highway was will take 15 years and 144 million to complete.
As we approach Bridal Veil Falls, the first thing you'll notice is the fresh, clean air, scented with pine and the dampness of the nearby creek. The trail leading up to the falls is lined with towering trees, including Douglas firs and Western red cedars, and you can feel the cool mist rising from the creek as we make our way closer.
The water cascades down in a delicate and ethereal veil, which is how it gets its name. The falls are surrounded by lush green forests, and the sound of the rushing water is soothing and calming.
One of the most interesting things about Bridal Veil Falls is its cultural and historical significance to the Native American tribes that have lived in this area for thousands of years. The falls were considered a sacred site by many tribes, including the Chinook, Multnomah, and Wasco-Wishram. These tribes believed that the waterfall was home to powerful spirits and that the mist that rose from the falls had healing properties.
For many years, these tribes would come to Bridal Veil Falls to hold important ceremonies, such as weddings and other rites of passage.
The area around the falls is still rich in wildlife, with many species of birds, including the American Dipper, a small bird that feeds on insects in the creek. You may also spot other animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and even deer if you're lucky.
As we reach the falls, you'll be able to hear the rushing water and feel the cool mist on your skin. The falls themselves are stunning, with the water cascading down a series of steps into a clear pool below. The rocks and vegetation around the falls are covered in a soft moss, giving the area a lush and vibrant feel.
The falls also played an important role in the early history of the region, as pioneers and settlers passed through the area on their way west along the Oregon Trail.
In the later 19th century, Bridal Veil Falls became a popular destination for tourists and visitors, who were drawn to its natural beauty and rich history. Today, it remains one of the most stunning and iconic waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, a testament to the enduring power and beauty of nature.
Now we’ll make a quick drive to Shepperds Dell
Excavating basalt for the construction of the Historic Columbia River Highway presented a number of challenges for the engineers and workers involved in the project. Basalt is a dense, hard, and durable volcanic rock that can be difficult to work with using traditional excavation methods.
One of the primary challenges was breaking the basalt into manageable pieces. Because of its density and hardness, basalt could not be excavated using traditional pick-and-shovel methods. Instead, engineers had to use explosives to blast the basalt into smaller pieces. This required careful planning and execution to ensure the safety of workers and nearby communities.
Another challenge was removing the large quantities of debris that resulted from the excavation process. Basalt can be difficult to break down, and the resulting rubble and debris can be heavy and hard to move. This required the use of heavy equipment such as steam shovels and dump trucks, which had to be carefully maneuvered on the narrow and winding roads of the Columbia River Gorge.
Finally, because the basalt layers in the Gorge are tilted at an angle, workers had to carefully excavate and shape the roadway to follow the contours of the landscape. This required a high degree of skill and precision to ensure that the road was both safe and aesthetically pleasing.
Despite these challenges, the engineers and workers involved in the construction of the Historic Columbia River Highway were able to overcome these obstacles through careful planning, innovative techniques, and hard work. Their efforts resulted in a roadway that remains an engineering and architectural marvel to this day.
The trail leading up to Shepperds Dell is lined with tall trees that are easily over 100 years old. You'll notice the leaves are particularly large, almost like they belong in a tropical climate. The sound of the creek running alongside the trail is very peaceful, and you may even hear the songs of the many bird species that call this area home.
This location was named after the Shepperd family, who first settled in the area back in the 1880s. The family ran a successful orchard here for many years, and their legacy still lives on in the form of the park that now bears their name.
The history of this place is truly fascinating. The Shepperd family, like many others in the area, relied on logging and agriculture to make a living. Life wasn't easy for these early settlers, and they faced many challenges in their daily lives. But through hard work and determination, they were able to thrive and build a community here.
Shepperd's Dell Bridge was designed by bridge designer K.P. Billner under the supervision of Samuel Lancaster in 1914. The bridge is a reinforced concrete deck arch with a 100-foot span. It was the second bridge built on the Historic Columbia River Highway. The solid curtain wall between spandrels and above the crown of the parabolic arch is a unique feature of this bridge. Later bridges of Conde B. McCullough's on the Columbia River Highway imitate this design. K.P. Billner believed this was one of the strongest and best-erected bridges on the highway. The structure harmonized beautifully with its hilly woodland setting
As we explore the area around the falls, you may also notice the wide variety of plant and animal species that call this area home. The forest around the falls is home to a wide variety of trees, including Western hemlock, Douglas fir, and Red alder. You may also spot a variety of wildlife, including deer, chipmunks, and squirrels, as well as a wide variety of bird species, including the American Dipper.
The falls also played an important role in the early history of the region, serving as a source of power for early settlers who built mills and other industries along the creek. Today, Shepperds Dell remains a stunning testament to the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the history and culture of the region.
Now let’s cruise over to Latourell Falls
You’ll see many bicycles here during the day and they were actually a major consideration in the design of the Historic Columbia River Highway. In the early 1900s, cycling was a popular recreational activity, and many people were interested in exploring the outdoors on two wheels.
Samuel C. Lancaster, the chief engineer and designer of the highway, recognized the potential for bicycles as a means of transportation and recreation. He included wide shoulders along the road and designed a separate, parallel path for bicycles and pedestrians in some sections. This was the first bike path in the United States to be constructed as part of a highway project.
The bike path was located on the west side of the road, separated from the main roadway by a concrete curb. It was six feet wide and paved with concrete, making it suitable for both cyclists and pedestrians. The path included several overlooks and rest areas where travelers could stop to enjoy the scenic views of the Gorge.
Lancaster's decision to include a separate bike path on the highway was a bold and forward-thinking move that helped establish the Columbia River Gorge as a popular destination for cycling and outdoor recreation. Today, the Historic Columbia River Highway remains a popular destination for cyclists and is considered one of the best bike rides in the country.
As we approach Latourell Falls, you'll notice that the landscape becomes more open, with sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge. The falls themselves are visible from a distance, with a plume of mist rising high into the air.
As we make our way closer to the falls, you'll be struck by the dramatic contrast between the dark, basalt cliffs and the vibrant green of the surrounding forest. The water flows over the cliff face in a thin veil, creating a delicate and beautiful display of natural beauty.
One interesting aspect of Latourell Falls is the variety of plant species that can be found in the area. The surrounding forest is home to a wide variety of trees, including Western red cedar, Douglas fir, and Bigleaf maple. The forest floor is covered in a lush carpet of ferns and mosses, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere.
In addition to the natural beauty of the area, Latourell Falls has a rich history that is worth exploring. The falls were named after Joseph Latourell, a pioneer who settled in the area in the 1850s. Latourell was an important figure in the development of the region, and he played a key role in building the Columbia River Highway, which passes by the falls.
The falls also played an important role in the lives of the native people who lived in the area before European settlement. The Multnomah tribe, who were part of the Chinookan people, would have passed through the area as they hunted and fished in the nearby river and streams.
Overall, Latourell Falls is a beautiful and fascinating destination that offers a glimpse into the natural and cultural history of the Columbia River Gorge.
The construction of the Historic Columbia River Highway was a remarkable engineering achievement for its time. One of the reasons why the highway has such a gentle grade is because it was designed to follow the natural contours of the land as much as possible. This minimized the amount of grading and earthwork required, which helped keep construction costs down.
Additionally, the highway was designed to be a scenic drive rather than a high-speed thoroughfare. As a result, the designers were able to make the road's curves and turns more gradual, which also helped to reduce the overall grade.
Another factor that contributed to the highway's gentle grade was the availability of concrete as a construction material. Concrete was relatively new at the time and had only recently been used to construct the Panama Canal. The use of concrete allowed for longer spans between piers and fewer support structures, which meant that the roadway could be built on a gentler slope.
Overall, the gentle grade of the Historic Columbia River Highway was the result of careful planning and innovative engineering. The designers recognized the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge and wanted to create a road that would allow travelers to experience it at a leisurely pace.
As we ride towards Crown Point Vista House, you'll notice that the landscape opens up, with sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge stretching out before us. The air is crisp and cool, with a hint of pine and cedar from the surrounding forest.
As we approach the Vista House, you'll be struck by its elegant design and stunning location. The Vista House itself is a beautiful building with ornate architecture and a grand staircase leading up to the observation deck. Inside, you'll find exhibits on the history of the area, including information on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the building of the historic highway.
The Vista House is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river, and its iconic tower is visible from miles away. The building itself is made of local materials, including basalt rock and Oregon white oak, and features intricate carvings and mosaics that reflect the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
The views from the Vista House are truly breathtaking, with sweeping panoramas of the Columbia River Gorge and the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction, taking in the majesty of the natural landscape.
But the Vista House is more than just a stunning viewpoint - it is also a testament to the rich history of the region. The building was constructed in 1916 as part of the Columbia River Highway, which was an engineering marvel of its time. The highway was built to connect Portland to the Columbia River Gorge, and it was the first scenic highway in the United States. Today, the Vista House serves as a memorial to the highway and the pioneers who built it, and it remains an important landmark in the region.
As the sun begins to set, the sky takes on a golden hue, casting a warm glow over the Vista House and the surrounding landscape. It's a magical moment, and one that you'll never forget.
Overall, Crown Point Vista House is a truly unforgettable destination that offers a unique combination of natural beauty and rich history. It's the perfect way to cap off our tour of the stunning waterfalls and scenic vistas of the Columbia River Gorge.