A couple of years later, we were once again zipping through the Gorge on I-84. I was in a car, following a U-Haul van driven by my husband. Still no time to pull over and marvel at the scenery. We were in a hurry to get resettled. But now that we live on the coastal side of the state, it has become one of our favorite haunts.
“The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon, 80 miles long and up to 4000 feet deep, that cuts through the heart of the Cascade Mountains.” At 295,000 acres, it’s one of the largest National Scenic Areas in the U.S.
On the western end of the Gorge, the vertical basalt cliffs lining both sides of the river are home to the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America. Multnomah Falls is the most famous, drawing nearly 4 million visitors each year. It was even featured briefly in the baseball scene of Twilight the movie. But the others are all uniquely beautiful and well worth a visit, too.
For adventurous spirits, a number of walking/hiking trails climb from lowland forests of pine, maple, and Oregon ash to windy ridges and alpine meadows. There are some 800 species of wildflowers here, too, 13 of which are found only in the Gorge. Plenty of spots along the way to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch. And the scenic views will knock your socks off! So, don’t forget to bring your camera.
The Columbia River Gorge is located just 16 miles east of Portland, OR. Perfect for a day trip or an afternoon of fun. Take I-84 on the Oregon side of the river; State Highway 14 on the Washington side.