If you want to get Vista House in your picture then you need to go just a little bit further west along the Crown Point highway to the Portland Women's Forum state scenic viewpoint. There, besides the gorgeous view, you will find a monument to Sam Hill. He was one of the original promoters of building the Columbia River Gorge Highway. He lived in both Seattle and Maryhill, the town at the other end of the gorge which he named for his wife. His road from the river up to his home in Maryhill was the first paved road in the Northwest and the model for which he promoted a scenic road along the river. When building the scenic road: "The ideals sought were not the usual economic features and considerations given the location of a trunk highway. Grades, curvature, distance and even expense were sacrificed to reach some scenic vista or to develop a particularly interesting point. All the natural beauty spots were fixed as control points and the location adjusted to include them. Although the highway would have a commercial value in connecting the Coast country with the eastern areas, no consideration was given the commercial over scenic requirements. The one prevailing idea in the location and construction was to make this highway a great scenic boulevard surpassing all other highways of the world."
Built on Crown Point as the culmination of the Columbia River Gorge Highway and a place from which to enjoy the "vista" of the Columbia river gorge it fulfills its purpose beautifully. We reached it near sunset and the crowds were beginning to gather in anticipation. The view east is stunning and truly worthy of being one of the worlds greatest. There is a gift shop and information stand inside, unfortunately the building itself was closed when we arrived except for the restrooms.
You can read all about it on the website.
Nearly 7 miles east of Multonomah Falls the hike to Elowah falls was the perfect introduction to the Columbia River Gorge ecosystem. Due to their distance from Portland and with all the other waterfalls to visit when you are coming from that direction they do not get the same amount of traffic some of the other falls get. Besides which you must take a walk to see them. They are located in John B Yeon State park, no charge. You must reach the trailhead from I-84, (exit 37 from the east and exit 35 from the west) though the parking lot is off the old highway. The 1.5 mile round trip trail was well sign posted and easy to follow. It was a bit up hill but easy enough if you are in shape.
It was a peaceful, wooded walk through the temperate rain forest of the gorge, with fungi, ferns, maples, and many other unidentified trees, shrubs and undergrowth to intrigue and interest me. It wasn't long before the noise of the highway was lost and the coolness of the forest took over. I heard the falls long before I could see them through the foliage. They free fall 289 ft. into a large basin that would be great on a hot day (are there any here?). I've seen pictures with more volume so summer may be a better time to visit than fall. There was a soggy wood bridge over the creek that looked like it grew there. I rested so long and enjoyed the stay so much that my hubby with the bad knees decided to try the hike. He got most of the way while I listened for forest elfs and water nymphs.
Some call these a hidden gem, or a pristine area, one of the tallest falls in the gorge with a dramatic drop where the water crashes into the huge amphitheater. Yes, I say, yes, that is all true. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day enjoying this incredible spot of heaven on earth.
Easily seen after a walk across the parking lot on the Historic Columbia Highway. These are wonderfully gentle falls. They fall 176 ft and look just like a horses tail. They are about 2.5 miles east of Multonomah Falls on the Historic Columbia Highway.
They were a 15 minute visit for me before I started the short hike to Ponytail Falls. Not far to the east is Ainsworth State Park which offers camping and picnic facilities.
These wonderful falls are found on an short and not too steep trail starting at Horsetail Falls. The trail from Horsetail to Ponytail was a little under 1/2 mile. It can easily be extended (and it looked like most people did) to visit the Oneonta gorge area and falls which would be a 2.5 mile loop. After climbing up the side of the mountain with views of the Columbia River gorge and highway traffic noise you turn left into a small gorge and leave that all behind. Very quickly the falls are seen. I had to see these because the trail goes right behind them. Stand in the wetness behind the falls and the roar of the water is all you can hear. A unique and wonderful spot to visit.
Ponytail falls is named for their shape. They are about 100 ft high in a freefall off the volcanic cliff.
They are located not quite 3 miles east of Multonomah Falls on the Historic Columbia Highway.
About 6.5 miles west of Multonomah Falls the highway passes the last waterfall easily reached by road. If you are coming from Portland it would be the first. This stunning waterfall freefalls nearly 249 feet in a thin wisp of water. Easily overshadowed by the more popular falls, if I lived in Portland this would be a weekend destination.
Located in Guy Talbot State Park which has no entrance fee, there are picnic facilities nearby and trails both long and short.
They were named for around 1887 after Joseph Latourell who was named postmaster of the Rooster Rock Post Office.
A beautifully delicate waterfall with two tiers each about 50 ft. This water fall may be too easy to get to as it is readily visible from the car. There is a small pull off and a short trail. I liked this waterfall very much though our visit to it was short. It is one I would like to go back to visit if I have a chance.
Named for the dairy farmer who donated the land in 1915 in honor of his wife. While most of the land along the Historic Highway was donated by men of means George Shepperd gave all he had: this 11 acres. He and his family had spent their Sunday's here for sabbath worship as a church was not available to them. The designer K.P. Billner paid tribute to George Shepperd when he wrote: ''Men of Wealth and high position have done big things for the Columbia River Highway which will live in history; but George Shepperd, the man of small means, did his part full well."
The bridge spanning the stream is almost as famous as the falls. It was considered an architectural wonder when it was built.
The falls are about 4.5 miles west of Multonomah on the Historic Columbia Highway
These falls are hidden behind so much greenery it is hard to really see them from the road. They are 242 ft tall tiered and cascading down the hillside. You can take a short walk to a bridge crossing the stream. They are easily reached just from the Historic Columbia Highway a little over half a mile west of Multonomah falls.
Upper Latourell Falls is very similar to Ponytail falls but is a little bit taller. At 125 feet (38 m) this waterfall is quite impressive. Had it not been put on the same creek as its lower companion Latourell Falls it would probably be more well known.
As is the case in several other locations in the Columbia River gorge their are some Nasty Plants that line this trail as well. Keeping a look out will also allow you to see some interesting native vegetation like maiden hair fern and wild bleeding heart.
In the same way that you can walk behind Ponytail falls this waterfall shoots out over an undercut cliff face and walking behind this fall is also possible.
Upper Latourell Falls is reached by stopping at the Latourell Falls turnout on the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway. From there it's a short .8 mile (1.2 km) hike.
Mist Falls is said to be the second tallest waterfall in Oregon. At 400 feet (121 m) this waterfall is surprisingly unknown and undeveloped. Thousands of people drive right past it every day without even knowing that they have missed it.
The Falls is not labeled like many others in the area and the fact that their is no well established trail to access it make it a virtual unknown. The faint path that does lead to its base is lined also with some Nasty Plants. This difficult find and the low volume of water traveling over this fall are likely is why nobody bothered to make it accessible.
Due to its obscurity, you will very likely be the only one viewing the falls which I believe greatly adds to the enjoyment.
From Multnomah Falls drive west along the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway SR 30 .3 miles (500 m) past Wahkeena falls and around mile marker 19 their is a single car sized pullout on the hill side. Park there and find your way up a short but overgrown path to the base of the falls.