The Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is one of the most breathtaking scenic areas in the United States, renowned for its dramatic cliffs, lush forests, and spectacular waterfalls like Multnomah Falls. With over 80 waterfalls in the area, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a waterfall tour. This guide will help you navigate the Columbia River Gorge and visit the most beautiful waterfalls the area has to offer.
Parking and Permits: Most of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge are located on the Oregon side of the river and can be accessed via various hiking trails or by car. Some popular waterfalls have designated parking areas with limited spaces, so it is recommended to arrive early, especially on weekends and holidays.
A few of the waterfalls are located on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and a Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking. These passes can be purchased at ranger stations, visitor centers, and local businesses.
The Historic Highway has a new permit system in place as well, check rec.gov for tickets.
Traffic: Traffic in the Columbia River Gorge can be heavy, especially during peak tourist season (summer and fall), so allow extra time for your drive and be prepared for slow-moving or stopped traffic. To avoid the busiest times, consider visiting the waterfalls on weekdays or during the shoulder season (spring and winter).
Hikes: Many of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge are accessible via hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to strenuous hikes. It is important to come prepared for your hike, with appropriate footwear, plenty of water, and a map or GPS device. Some popular hikes in the area include:
-Multnomah Falls: This iconic waterfall is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge and is the tallest waterfall in the state, with a height of 620 feet. A short and easy hike takes you to the base of the falls, while a more strenuous hike takes you to the top of the falls.
-Eagle Creek Trail: This trail takes you on a scenic hike along Eagle Creek, passing several waterfalls along the way, including Punchbowl Falls, Metlako Falls, and Tunnel Falls. This hike is considered to be strenuous and is not recommended for inexperienced hikers.
-Wahclella Falls: This waterfall is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge and is accessible via a 2-mile round-trip hike. The trail takes you through a lush forest and over a bridge that provides a stunning view of the waterfall.
Waterfalls: Some of the most popular waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge include:
-Bridal Veil Falls
Scenic Views: In addition to the stunning waterfalls, the Columbia River Gorge also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Some popular scenic overlooks include:
-Crown Point: This viewpoint offers panoramic views of the Columbia River and the surrounding landscape.
-Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint: This viewpoint provides a stunning view of the Columbia River Gorge and the surrounding mountains.
History of Tourism: The Columbia River Gorge has been a popular tourist destination for over a century, attracting visitors from around the world with its natural beauty and dramatic scenery. The area has a rich history of tourism, with the construction of the Historic Columbia River Highway in the early 20th century making it easier for travelers to access the stunning waterfalls and scenic views of the area.
In conclusion, the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves waterfalls, scenic views, and outdoor adventure. Whether you're hiking to the base of Multnomah Falls, admiring the beauty of Wahclella Falls, or taking in the panoramic views from Crown Point, there's something for everyone in this stunning area. So pack your bags, grab your hiking shoes, and head to the Columbia River Gorge for an unforgettable waterfall tour.