About 12 years ago, I went on a trip to Vancouver with another family and we drove by Columbia River Gorge between Washington and Oregon. I remember that it was beautiful and I made a mental note to come back to explore it more. While planning the trip, Susan wanted to visit Multnomah Falls (see right) in Oregon. I had never heard of Multnomah Falls so naturally I was interested. As a bonus, it is along the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, thus, giving us an opportunity to see both the same time.
We drove down on highway 97 from Washington State and reached Columbia River Gorge near Maryhill State Park. We were taken back immediately by the stunning view, a wide open gorge with a river run through it (see below) The river had a feel of a big lake, not sure it was due to the Dalles Dam just down river or it was always like that. The road along the north side is high above the gorge where as the road along the south runs along next to the river down in the gorge. We drove along the road on the north side for 30 miles to take in the view of the gorge before heading down and crossing the river at The Dalles.
On the south side, we drove along the river and saw the gorge from a different perspective. We felt much closer to the nature, reminded us the time we hiked down to the Grand Canyon: the views along the way down were much more spectacular than only looking down from the top. We camped at Memaloose State Park that night along the river. It was a beautiful campground but it also confirmed our observation: wind and gorge go together. Luckily it wasn’t as windy as it was when we were at Buffalo Bill State Park in Wyoming where we had to take shelter in the van to eat our dinner.
The next morning, we set out to find the Multnomah Falls. One thing we always did on the trip was to stop at the 1st welcome center after entering a new state to pick up guidebooks for that state. We found all state guidebooks informative and useful. A lot of states also provided free maps. We had discovered a lot of interesting and unheard of places in those guidebooks. We had picked up some Oregon information at The Dalles and discovered that we could take this historical trail where we can see lots of falls. Waterfalls for us are like candies for kids. We thought we hit a jackpot but we didn’t have to hike much as a lot of them were just off the road: this worried me a little bit.
I always thought of seeing a beautiful fall after a long hike would make it look better and be more fulfilling. I remember a grueling hike we did at Yosemite to see a series of falls, Tuolumne Falls, Glen Aulin Falls, California Falls, Le Conte Falls, and Waterwheel falls. It was a 16 miles round-trip hike. We started too late and had to turn back at California falls and luckily we did as we had to use flashlight for the last ½ miles on the way back. We have to go back one day to see them all. All the falls were beautiful but if we were to see them off the side of a road, we might not have felt the same way. Therefore, we kept our expectations low.
The first falls we saw was Horsetail Falls (see left). It was early September so the water was not plentiful but it was graceful nevertheless. There was a hiking trail where it led up to upper horsetail falls. We only planned a day to see all the falls so we decided to skip the hike and moved on to the next falls, Multnomah Falls.
The Multnomah Falls is the most famous falls in the Northwest, according to some publications. It was definitely unique as it dropped down from over 600 feet in two tiers with a bridge across the middle, a view to remember. There was a gift shop down at the base of the falls with thousands of falls pictures. We felt like tourists instead of explorers. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful falls. We hiked up to the top of the Multnomah Falls and continued down the Multnomah creek to see two more falls, Dutchman Falls, and Weisendanger Falls (the picture with Kadia). I found the Weisendanger Falls extra charming, perhaps because we hiked 1 ½ miles to see it. The hike was quite nice, secluded and shady. I wish we had more time so we can go further beyond the Weisendanger Falls.
We made another couple of stops to see Bridal Veils Falls (see left) and Latourell Falls (see right). Each one had its own charm but it was not as rewarding as they were easily reached. We also drove up to the Crown Point/Vista House to take in views from high up (see two pictures below). I wish we had a little more time so we can explore the area more. Although most of the falls we saw required little hiking and water volume was low, we still felt it was worth the trip. Also, we discovered there were a lot more to be explored via hiking. It is definitely a place we will go back again.