Take a Tour of the Columbia River Gorge
Discover the history, scenic beauty, and culture of The Dalles, Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge.
The Dalles, Oregon is located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, 84 miles east of Portland, Oregon on Interstate 84 and Oregon Highway 30.
Easy traveling for visitors
The Dalles is only 82 miles east of Portland, Oregon and the Portland International Airport. Take the drive through the scenic Columbia River Gorge on I-84, through the Cascade Mountains. To our north is the majestic Columbia River, with our neighbors in Dallesport, Washington on the other side of , on Hwy. 197. Just visible to the northwest are the snow-covered slopes of Mt. Adams. To the southwest is the towering figure of one of the other sentinels of the Cascades, Mt. Hood. The area is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking trails along spectacular waterfalls, and your choice of white-water rafting, fishing, camping, cycling, and year-round skiing at Timberline Lodge within an hour's drive. supplies the area with hydro-electric power, which was one of the primary reasons internet giant Google located a facility in The Dalles.The Dalles Bridge junction.
Some local sites of interest are:
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is one of the most beautiful, exciting and diverse locations in the Pacific Northwest. The Gorge and its many vistas will fill you with memories and awe. The Gorge can be visited in many ways and I will provide you with an auto tour of the Gorge National Scenic Area. You may then decide which of the many spectacular features to spend you time on. I would suggest you obtain a map of the Gorge from the Chamber of Commerce in the area you start from. Buckle your seat belts (it’s the law in Oregon and Washington!) and you are on your way.
Interstate 84, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, is the quickest route. If time is not a factor, do drive the Historic Columbia River Highway (Highway 30). Highway 30 was an engineering feat of 1913. The highway runs parallel to I- 84 and the Columbia River. It has several on and off ramps to I-84 to make your driving enjoyable and scenic.
Let’s start in Troutdale, Oregon, which is located 20 minutes east of Portland. Look for the Exit 17 signs on I-84. This is the off ramp for Troutdale, the Historic Columbia River Highway (Highway 30) and the spectacular waterfall loop. Exit and follow the signs through the town of Troutdale past the Harlow House Museum and continue over the Troutdale Bridge. Take a right on to the Historic Columbia River Highway.
At 2.8 miles from the Troutdale Bridge you will come to Dabney State Park where you will see the Sandy River plus access to restrooms and drinking water. The next five miles of Highway 30 will take you through the towns of Springdale and Corbett. Be sure you have enough gasoline, as the next gasoline station is about 24 miles away at the town of Cascade Locks.
A camera is absolute MUST, as you will some see. A mile-and-a-half from the town of Corbett you will enter a section of the Historic Highway 30 where some of the greatest photos of the Gorge have been taken. Do set up you tripod at the Portland Women’s Forum State Park viewpoint. When at Vista House on top of Crown Point you will be visited by the famous Gorge winds and magnificent vistas while looking east, west and across the Columbia River. Open from April too mid-October, and recently renovated, the Vista House offers visitor information, gift shop and restrooms.
|Multnomah Falls along I-84 in the scenic Columbia River Gorge is one of Oregon's most popular tourist sights.
As you drive down from Crown Point you will enter a cool wooded area, old homes and waterfalls. Three State Parks are in this area---Latourell, Shepperd’s Dell and Bridal Veil --- they offer hiking, views of their respective waterfalls, day-use of picnic areas and restrooms. You will now enter the Mt. Hood National Forest, so watch for Wahkeena Falls Picnic Area on the left. A short walk will bring you to Wahkeena Falls and the cool mist will refresh you on a hot summer day.
Your next stop will bring you to the fourth highest waterfall in the United States, Multnomah Falls. You can walk the paved trail, which will lead you to the top of the 620-foot waterfall. At the base of the falls is a historic stone lodge that houses a gift shop, snack bar, and restrooms. Two miles to the east you will come upon the geologic wonder of Oneonta Gorge. Colorful wildflowers thrive at the Oneonta Botanical Area. You may also be able to view hanging gardens during low water periods by hiking upstream in this skinny gorge.
Only a half-mile beyond Oneonta Gorge is Horsetail Falls and a picnic area. A mile beyond Horsetail Falls you will find Ainsworth State Park where you can camp. The camping area has 45 tent or trailer sites as well as restrooms, showers, water, sewer, electricity and dumping station.
The Historic Highway 30 will return you to I-84. Five miles east bring you to Bonneville Dam at exit 40. Do take the free tour of the dam, it is fascinating. The fish-viewing room and fish hatchery are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you do not wish to visit the Dam, turn right from exit 40 and drive to Walcella Falls trail head and take a scenic short hike up Tanner Creek.
Return to I-84 and drive to exit 41 and the Eagle Creek picnic area. This is perhaps the most popular trail in the Gorge.
Your next stop is Cascade Locks. This location features Cascade Locks Museum, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler riverboat cruises and the Cascade Locks Marine Park. The famous Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Columbia River at Cascade Locks.
Continue on to the town Hood River, the windsurfing capitol of North America. Hood River is also the home of the most delicious pears, apples, grapes, cherries and peaches in the summer and fall. Mt. Hood National Forest is reached via State Highway 35 from Hood River. They also have a microbrewery, Mt. Hood Historic Railroad and historic hotels; these are just a few of the many delights awaiting you.
Continue on I-84 to exit 69 at Mosier, to enter the second drivable stretch of Historic Highway 30. The series of loops on this section of the road takes you to the top of the scenic Rowena Plateau. Here you will find the very colorful Tom McCall Nature Preserve, a wildflower refuge maintained by the Nature Conservancy.
|Mt. Hood is visible to the southwest of The Dalles, Oregon. The Dalles is located on 1-84 along the Columbia River.
Photo by Kerry Haas, www.VideosForYou.com was taken from Dallesport, WA.
The next stop, either via I-84 or Historic Highway 30 is The Dalles, Oregon. This location was the end of the Oregon Trail for the thousands of people who came to the Pacific Northwest. The new Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum at Crate’s Point will provide you with all the rich cultural and natural stories of the Columbia River Gorge. The Dalles also offers a wealth of colorful history, cherries in season and of course shopping gas, food and lodging.
Continue eastward to the traditional Indian fishing area of Celilo, a peaceful place to picnic. When The Dalles Dam filled it covered the Celilo falls of the Columbia River.
Head east on I-84 to see the Deschutes River, a very popular white water river. Wagon trains travailing the Oregon Trail had to cross this turbid river near where it plunges into the Columbia River. Today a State Park provides an enjoyable spot to relax.
You will now leave the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area before reaching Biggs, Oregon where you can cross the Columbia River into Washington via Highway 97. You can continue north on Highway 97 to Goldendale, Washington for a visit to the Goldendale Observatory, the Presby Mansion and Klickitat County Museum. If you do not wish to go north then head west on Lewis and Clark State Route 14 to visit the elegant Maryhill Museum or east on State Route 14 to the nearby replica of Stonehenge --- both part of the intriguing story of visionary settler Sam Hill.
|Spring flowers make Catherine Creek a wonderful place to visit. Paved trail is wheelchair accessible, or the more adventurous hiker can climb a more rugged trail on the north side of the parking area. You'll find this site on the Washington side of the river, near Lyle.
Continue west on Lewis and Clark State Route 14 and make a stop at Horsethief Lake State Park where you can swim, rock climb, boat or fish. If you would like to view the park’s ancient picto-graphs and petroglyphs, call ahead for a reservation (509) 767-1159. Tours are provided on Fridays and Saturdays only and for a limited number of people.
On your way west, enjoy spring wildflowers along Catherine Creek and also hike up to a natural stone arch for a spectacular view of the Gorge. I would also stop at Bingen and White Salmon to sample local fruits, wines or stay at one the bed and breakfast Inns where you have a view of Mt Adams.
Back on Route 14 Wind River and Carson Hot Springs will be your next destination. You can enter the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument at this destination. Finish your tour with a hike to the top of the 848-foot Beacon Rock. This rock is all that remains of an ancient volcanic plug. You will have a panoramic view of the Gorge from this site, the final stop on your tour.