Monday, August 1, 2011

Driving the Columbia River Gorge Part I

Although we are on the far eastern side of the Columbia River Gorge, we decided to drive back west by car today and explore some of the scenic parts of it. There are over 70 named waterfalls in the area so we knew there were some wonderful sights to be seen. Many of them you have to hike into the woods to find them, but there are some right by scenic drive highway 30, which runs parallel to I-84, on the Oregon side. We had some literature in a book called the Gorge Guide, but it was confusing about where to pick up the scenic routes.

Multnomah Falls
What the heck! Let's just get in the car and drive, so we did! About three hours later, we were at our first stop, Multnomah Falls, a beautiful 620 foot waterfall located at exit 31 off highway 30. We were almost to Portland! These falls attract over 2.5 million visitors a year and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oregon. What's the big deal about these falls? They are really easy to find, very close to both highways, 84 and 30, and there is a beautiful bridge partway up the trail where you can stand and get awesome photos of the falls. There are scenic trails there, an information center, and gift shop.We got great tips from the guide person at the gift shop, and he gave us some additional stops we could check out along with a more understandable map.

From Multnomah Falls, we got on the scenic byway, historic highway 30 at exit 22 off highway 84 in Corbett. We drove up a 10% grade hill to stop at the Woman's Forum Overlook, where we had a fantastic view of the Columbia River Gorge. Just a little bit further, less than a mile, is a turnoff to Larch Mountain Road. On this road, is a viewpoint about 14 miles ahead of FIVE mountain views--Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. We didn't drive down that road was a long enough trip already! On to the Crown Point Vista House....This was one man's vision back in the early 1900's to provide an observatory where weary travelers could stop and commune with nature at a high point on a basalt promontory overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and to provide a memorial for those early settlers who struggled to come to Oregon. He wanted it to be a comfort station for tired travelers...and it is! It's magnificent! The observatory is 733 feet above the river.....It has unique architectural details like barred opaque stain glass windows, wrought iron hand railings, rare Alaskan marble stairs and floors--- it's just beautiful inside.... There are restrooms, a gift shop and historical information on several different levels and volunteers to give you more information. You can go to the top outside and look at the fantastic views of the gorge. We did!
Vista House built in 1916
We did so much today, we're pooped and going to call it a night...more tomorrow about our trip!

1 comment:

  1. I love waterfalls. Glad you are taking me to see so many. Thanks!