Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Driving the Columbia River Gorge Part 2

Yesterday we left you at the Vista House overlooking the Columbia River Gorge for miles and miles....There are several loops you can drive to see many waterfalls and fantastic scenery. We chose a shorter loop once we got to the more scenic areas for driving. We recommend The Gorge Guide even if it is a little confusing, because it has great descriptions of the towns and sights along the way as you drive the Gorge, along with other great places to stop and check out, like wineries and restaurants. (Sparky was avidly reading this guide this morning, but then wisely decided to pack a picnic lunch.) We just had a day to check out the Gorge, so.....

Latourell Falls
Here we are back on scenic highway 30 again, heading east doing the Corbett to Dodson loop back to Plymouth, WA where we are staying...There are SEVEN waterfalls on this loop, but not all are visible from the scenic highway...so come and explore the next time you are out this way! We saw the Latourell Falls (249 ft.), the Bridal Veil Falls (no height given) and the Horsetail Falls, 192 ft...These were awesome tall falls and breathtaking to look at, and very easy short walks to see them if not directly visible from the places to pull off......
Oneonta Tunnel/Gorge/Falls
At another stop, we had our picnic lunch. Life doesn't get any better than having lunch beside a thundering 192 foot waterfalls. At another stop we looked at the Oneonta Falls/Gorge area....a cool wooden tunnel was constructed through a rocky cliff and the falls were on a hike about a mile back through the stream. We didn't take the hike as we didn't have the right shoes for sloshing through the stream today. So we ate instead and enjoyed people watching for awhile before heading on to historic Bonneville Dam.

Bonneville Lock and Dam is a national historical landmark serving the Northwest. When you drive in the guard asked, do you have any guns or ammo? (!)  No sir, just all the junk in the back that we can't fit in our RV, I replied, and Eldy rolled down the back window so he could take a look. The guy was lucky stuff didn't spill out the window into his lap, the car was so full! He didn't see any humor in my reply. That's OK, you want your security guys who protect us from the bad guys to take their job seriously!

You can take a tour of the power plant if you like, see a fish hatchery on the Oregon side, view films and displays about salmon, hydropower, and river navigation or watch the salmon swim by at the underwater viewing windows or watch them jump up the fish ladder outside at a viewing platform. There weren't very many swimming upstream today, and some were even swimming backwards lacking the drive to swim forward so they let the current pull them back. Some haven't been to the ocean yet and don't have the spawning drive. A lady there had the official paid job of counting the fish that are swimming in the Bonneville Dam fish ladders. She counts fish EIGHT hours a day with a ten minute break each hour. Geez, what a job! She has to be able to recognize 30 different species of fish that are known to inhabit the Columbia River in order to have that job. For the record, 8,000+ steelhead salmon swam through the fish ladder yesterday, along with a couple hundred of several other species such as sturgeon. We chatted with her a little bit while she efficiently did her job.  I asked her what happens if the fish go by her backwards? She has a minus button to subtract the fish!

Horsetail Falls, 192 ft., where we sat and had lunch right next to it!
The Gorge is an amazing place to visit...We just scratched the surface...the geological history behind the making of the Gorge would make a great movie--fiery volcanoes, massive landslides, thundering torrents of water, tremendous upheavals...Forces of water swept through the volcanic rock digging a corridor that formed the Columbia River and its massive cliffs and it has one of the world's heaviest concentration of waterfalls....you name it, it's here.....wetlands, mountains, oak and pine forests and so much more. The historic scenic highway 30 is not to be missed--elegant stonework bridges and railings that line the two lane highway and there are just two parts left--a 22 mile section between Troutdale and Ainsworth State Park, (the one we drove today), and the 15 mile part between Mosier and The Dalles....We hope you enjoyed the drive with us!

Tomorrow we take the motorhome in for an oil change and its 15,000 mile checkup. Brace yourself, Eldy, it's gonna be some bills! (I know, I know!) but it's gotta be done.....hard to believe, we have over 15,000 miles on our rig since taking possession of the Tiffin last September.....Time and mileage fly when you are traveling and having the time of your life!


  1. The Columbia River Gorge is one of my very favorite places in the country. I've been going for years, have seen all the waterfalls, and had the pleasure of showing my kids last summer--but we just skimmed the surface. My plan, early on in the trip, was to camp along the river but when I was there, the wind was very strong so while it's good for watching the wind surfers, it's not so good for pulling a trailer. Had I known I wouldn't be back this year, I would have waited out the wind. I could spend months and not be bored for a moment.

    Glad you had the opportunity to see it, and hope you'll have the chance to return.

  2. We hope so, too! As you said, so much you can explore and we just began, now we have to leave! I read about the wind surfers, but there wasn't much wind at all..the turbines were barely turning and many of them were standstill calm, so we didn't see the wind surfers. I enjoy watching them work the wind when they are out on the water! thanks for commenting!