We set out this morning to explore the Columbia River Gorge. Who cares about an old gorge? We do! The Columbia River Gorge just east of Portland contains the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America. Who doesn’t like waterfalls?
The first stop was Vista House, a gorgeous building built in 1917 to serve as a place for travelers to rest and enjoy the scenery. We rested and enjoyed the scenery. Good job, Vista House!
Once you get into waterfall country, they come at you fast. Our first one to enjoy was Latourell Falls, a 249 foot plunge waterfall. We enjoyed the very bright green moss located on the rocks near the top. Probably radioactive.
The Bridal Veil Falls provided a much different experience. It is a 100-160 foot tier waterfall.
While at the Bridal Veil Falls State Park, I asked to get a picture of KK and Mallory hugging a tree. Boy, did they deliver. Pucker up, KK!
The next attraction on our drive along the Columbia River Highway was perhaps the gem of them all, Multnomah Falls. However, we were not the only ones with this stop on our minds. As we approached the falls, traffic on the two lane highway came to a complete stop as cars waited in line to turn into the small, and completely full, parking lot. It was this way going both directions, so we were not seeing any cars on the road going the other direction, as they were also trying to turn into the parking lot.
While we were waiting our turn, cars would occasionally pull around and drive past our line of cars and sneak through the small gap between the turning cars. This happened until a local sheriff pulled up with his lights on and met two such cars. We happened to be parked near the interaction…
Multnomah Falls Throwdown, Act 1, Scene 1
Sheriff gets out of his car and walks up to driver’s side of car #1. Both his arms are pointing to the sky as if to indicate exasperation.
Sheriff: We drive on the right side of the road in this country! What are you doing?!
Camera zooms in on license plate of car. It has a California license plate.
Sheriff continues waving his arms and talking to the car. Sheriff suggests the car should move over onto the correct side of the road.
Sheriff walks back to car #2.
Sheriff: I’m in an emergency vehicle with my lights on and I can’t get through because you’re trying to skirt traffic.
Car #2 tries to explain themselves. Sure wish they would speak up. Can’t hear them making their case.
Sheriff: (voice rising) Oh, so everybody else is breaking the law, so you can break the law, too? You’re not trying to get into the parking lot, you’re blocking traffic! You need to move over.
The Sheriff backs his car up to the entrance of the parking lot and starts waving every car, both directions, on down the road. There will be no more visitors to Multnomah Falls today under his watch.
Multnomah Falls Throwdown…Cut!…That’s a wrap.
Given that we will be coming back this way later, we are glad to move down the road and try our visit later when maybe it is not as crowded.
A short drive brings us to Horsetail Falls. This one is a 176 foot “horsetail” waterfall.
Continuing on our drive, we stopped at the Bridge of the Gods. The name is a nod to a Native American story.
There were several pop-up tents set up near the bridge where locals were selling fruit and salmon. KK bought a package of smoked salmon for us to try later.
We stopped in Hood River at Mike’s Ice Cream for some refreshments. All their seating was outside. And why wouldn’t you with this weather.
Back to Multnomah Falls. We drove toward the falls on the interstate this time, as there is a much larger parking lot accessible via that road. We had no trouble getting into the parking lot and finding spaces.
Multnomah Falls has over 2 million visitors a year. You can see it from the interstate so that explains a lot. Multnomah Falls is a 620 foot plunge waterfall, and features a viewing bridge partway up the falls. It is magnificent.
A trick Mallory taught me at our first waterfall of the day is to pick a water drop coming off the top and follow it all the way down. She’s smart! Erin already knew this trick, but it was new to Scott and me.
Our final attraction of the day was a drive around Mt Hood. It dominates the area as a lone peak and it features 12 glaciers. The drive that circled the peak had some good scenery, but very little of it was of Mt. Hood, since the tall pines grow right up next to the road.
Before we reached Mt. Hood, we passed a lavender farm and made a stop for Mallory. She missed our visit to the Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington earlier in the trip.
There is snow skiing on Mt. Hood and with our binoculars, we could easily see the chair lift. It was all above the tree line, so it might have been a bunny slope.
We had dinner down the road at the ZigZag Inn, located in ZigZag, Oregon. It was a unique building…a rustic log structure with antler chandeliers and poor lighting.
On our way back to the vacation house, we were interrupted in Sandy by a parade. Made a quick detour on some side streets and stopped to get some gas. I asked a passerby what the parade was for and she said it was for Sandy Mountain Days. Well, it looked like the whole town showed up for the parade.
At the gas station, we were interrupted trying to fill up by the attendant. We had stopped at a full service station and he was intent on taking care of us. It reminded me that only recently Oregon has allowed self service gas stations. We don’t see too many full service stations, so we will enjoy our time in Oregon at the gas pumps.
We got back to the house at 9:30pm. For a day that was only intended to include a few waterfalls and a mountain, we maximized our time out and about.