Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Oregon – October, 2015 The Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful area full of rushing water, lush forests, and mountains. Jim and I visited briefly many years ago and it made an impression. When we rescheduled our summer travels we knew we had to include this stop in our reworked plans.

We happened to get to town on a Friday and planned to spend the weekend. As full timers we do our best to schedule visits to tourist destinations during the week to avoid the crowds. We often stay close to home on the weekends or travel to our next destination. But Friday is when we happened to get there and we weren’t willing to stay longer for two reasons. We really wanted to get to the coast and we wanted to travel through Portland on a Sunday morning as opposed to a weekday. I hoped to get to the new campground at noon on Friday and do some sightseeing after lunch but when we got set up it was chillier than forecast and very windy so we didn’t see much that day.

Bright and early Saturday morning we ventured out to see the sights. It was pretty chilly so we started with a scenic drive up Larch Mountain Road. I expected it to end at a scenic overlook of the gorge. It was an absolutely amazing drive through an old growth forest. When we got to the top we discovered you had to walk about a half mile to the overlook. This was not what I was hoping since at the top of this mountain it was in the mid 30’s but we’d come all this way already so we threw on every stitch of clothing we had brought and hoofed it out to the overlook. Turns out it was actually an incredible viewpoint where you could see everything for many miles in every direction except the gorge.

Jim had just commented the day before that he’d love to see Mt. St. Helen but that even though it was not that many miles away he wasn’t willing to drive the 2 plus hours google said it would take to get there.

Unwittingly we had planned an outing that included this view of Mt St. Helens, in addition to Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. It would have also had a view of Mt. Hood if it had not been surrounded by clouds but I thought it was a stunning view nonetheless.

On the drive back down we stopped at the Portland Women’s Forum Park and finally got the beautiful view of the gorge we were looking for.

We visited the Vista House next but even by 9 am we had to do a drive by as there were no parking spaces remaining.

Finally it was warming up and we started visiting the many beautiful waterfalls.

Most were a short walk from the road.

But some were down a trail of a mile or more, like my favorite, Bridal Veil Falls.

We had to pass on some of the most popular ones as they had packed parking lots by 11 am. But we saw at least a half dozen beautiful falls, hiked about 5 miles total, and generally had a pretty awesome day despite the crowds.

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