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Columbia River Gorge in Oregon: Numerous Waterfalls and Beautiful Scenery

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Multnomah Falls along the Oregon Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls along the Oregon Columbia River Gorge

Traveling Along The Columbia River Gorge

This article will address the portion of Oregon along the Columbia River Gorge. It offers the most beautiful array of cascading waterfalls and beautiful scenery that one might ever wish to see.

For about two weeks in the year 1987, my mother, niece, and I decided to enjoy what we could see and explore in the State of Oregon on our vacation. We took an airplane from Houston to Portland and then rented a car.

After thoroughly enjoying Portland, the "City of Roses," we started driving east along the beautiful Columbia River, which happens to be the 4th largest river in all of the United States. The river forms much of the border between the states of Washington and Oregon. It is a total of 1,243 miles long, emptying its contents into the Pacific ocean.

Vista House at Crown Point

At each turn of the road along this Columbia River Gorge, the views are breathtakingly beautiful. There is a structure called the Vista House at Crown Point, constructed in 1916. It is an observatory and rest stop where one can absorb the beauty of the river from a higher vantage point.

Latourell Falls

The Latourell Falls is the first of many waterfalls that can be seen along this route. It is a tall and skinny fall that tumbles down into a creek strewn with many wet and slippery rocks. A pathway leads one back from the road and gets people very close up to the falls where they can feel the mist on their faces.

Latourell Falls along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

Latourell Falls along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

Wahkeenah Falls

The Wahkeenah Falls meanders down in several twists and turns in the rocks. If one takes the path back from the road, there is a bridge built over part of the rushing water where one can get up a little closer to view it. For those who do not like or cannot do much hiking, it can be seen from the parking lot and is a beautiful sight to behold.

My niece at Wahkeenah Falls along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

My niece at Wahkeenah Falls along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

Multnomah Falls

The next stop along the Columbia River Gorge takes people to the Multnomah Falls. There is an old Indian legend regarding this waterfall. Supposedly the Multnomah people were suffering from a terrible sickness.

A medicine man in that tribe told them that if a maiden threw herself from the high cliffs to the rocks below, the tribe would be saved. When the Chief's daughter saw that the illness was making her lover ill, she decided to sacrifice herself so that he be spared. According to legend, occasionally, when a breeze passes through the falling water, a form of the sacrificed maiden appears.

There is a steep 1.2-mile trail up to the top of Multnomah Falls, where the views of the Columbia River are spectacular. My niece and I made the hike and also got to see the stream feeding the falls. Many other folks were hiking the same trail, and many photos were being taken from the vantage point at the top of the falls overlooking the river below.

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Oneonta Gorge

The home of a remarkable variety of aquatic, woodland, and rock-dwelling plants is in Oneonta Gorge. This gorge was our next stop along the way, and it was rough hiking getting over the fallen tree trunks and rocks to view the canyon far back from the road. One of the photos that I took (shown below) became the basis of a painting that I later created. I thought this site to be particularly beautiful.

People can spend much of a day just in this one area if wishing to hike far back into this lovely Oneonta Gorge.

Oneonta Gorge

Oneonta Gorge

Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are the next two waterfalls on the way while traveling east along the Columbia River Gorge. The names give apt descriptions of what these falls depict.

Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

Bridal Veil Falls

In the case of Bridal Veil Falls, think of an exquisite bridal gown with a lush and flowing veil trailing for numerous yards behind the bride. It would befit a princess!

Surrounding the parking lot at Bridal Veil Falls, we found an abundance of wild blackberry bushes and native apple trees. Blackberry bushes grow like a prolific weed in much of Oregon. We saw them everywhere!

Bridal Veil Falls - Columbia River Gorge Oregon

Bridal Veil Falls - Columbia River Gorge Oregon

Bonneville Lock and Dam

Bonneville Lock and Dam is the next sightseeing destination along the Columbia River. This dam provides energy usage for much of the Northwest. We also got to view a Fish Ladder, which allows the Chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon a way to navigate to their upstream spawning waters.

Columbia Gorge Hotel & Wah-Gwin-Gwin Falls

The Columbia Gorge Hotel sits on the bank of the river. It has a small waterfall from its backyard to the Columbia River some 206 feet below. The name of the falls is Wah-Gwin-Gwin.

Magnificent gardens surround the hotel, which forms the background for many weddings. One of the topiaries on the manicured grounds is a bride!

The famous multi-course breakfast at the Columbia Gorge Hotel is a real treat. We treated ourselves to that meal and would recommend it to others if the timing is right.

World Famous Farm Breakfast

The "World Famous Farm Breakfast" at the Columbia Gorge Hotel included the following:

  • "A bountiful array of seasonal fruits
  • Apple Fritters with Sugar and Spice
  • Old Fashioned Oatmeal served with brown sugar and sweet cream
  • Three Farm Fresh Eggs
  • Crispy Bacon - Country Style Smoked Pork Chop - Apple and Maple Flavored Pork Sausage
  • Golden hash Browned Potatoes
  • Home-style Baking Powder Biscuits and Apple Blossom Honey from the Sky
  • A Stack of Buttermilk Pancakes with Hot Maple Syrup
  • Freshly Brewed Hot Coffee"

You might be wondering about the "Honey from the Sky?" A young lady wearing a white apron offered the honey for your biscuits with quite a flourish. She would dip a spoon in the honey and lift it as far as her arm could reach towards the sky, and the syrup would drip down in a small stream and hit the biscuits with pinpoint accuracy!

It seemed a perfect ending to our sightseeing along the Columbia River with its numerous waterfalls. This thin stream of honey was just another stream, but instead of pounding water, this latter was sweet, gooey and sugary.

History of The Columbia Gorge Hotel: Also Shows Photos

National Scenic Area

At this point, we departed the Columbia River and the Columbia Gorge Hotel for other sites within the beautiful state of Oregon after enjoying the numerous scenic waterfalls and gorgeous scenery all along the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge is a national scenic area. If you get a chance to visit this part of the country, I would highly recommend doing so. You will come away with beautiful memories of this portion of our country, just as we did.

Columbia River Gorge in Oregon


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Peggy Woods

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