Columbia River Gorge

by Jim and Melanie

During one of our days visiting Portland, OR, we drove east along the Columbia River. Over the eons, the river cut a gorge through the land as it coursed to the Pacific from central Oregon. The first scenic part of our drive was on the  Historic Columbia River Highway. We stopped at the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint.

Looking east | Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint

Vista House

In the image above you can see a structure on the bluff, on the photo’s right side. The building is called Vista House. The rest stop honors the early pioneers to the area. We headed there next.

733 ft (223 m) above the Columbia River | completed in 1918 | architect Edgar M. Lazarus

The view east from Vista House

This video offers a panoramic view from Vista House first toward the west and ending toward the east. You can see how calm the water was, a great contrast to our last visit. About ten years ago we stopped at Vista House. The wind was blowing about 50 mph, and we nearly had to hold on to the railing to keep from blowing over.

Latourell Falls

Waterfalls plunge into the gorge at several locations on both sides of the river. We visited two near Vista House. The first was Latourell Falls. The drop is nearly 225 ft in a single plunge.

It was easy to walk up close and get into the spray. A side trail led to a spot behind the falls. We walked back there and got some unique views and a little wet.

The rocks on the overhanging cliff face were composed of basalt columns. The volcanic rocks cooled from their molten state and formed six-sided columns. These column structures are found near many volcanic regions of the world. (Melanie LOVES basalt columns. She jumped up and down when she saw these.)

Bridal Veil Falls

Not far down the road we stopped to see another falls.

Cascade Locks

We reached our farthest east destination of Cascade Locks by noon. The riverfront park was a pleasant place to eat our packed lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The view to the north side of the river showed the carved bluff faces. Though tempted to cross and explore there, we’ll save that visit for another time.

No trip to the Pacific Northwest is complete without at least one sighting of Big Foot. Fortunately, he was not threatening at all, and we made a safe getaway.

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20 thoughts on “Columbia River Gorge

  1. BJ Good

    Your photography brings back wonderful memories of my 2004 Lewis & Clark bicentennial trip in the same area on a small ship traveling on the Columbia River. An area worth experiencing over & over & lovely to hear & see the falls again via your video!

    Reply
  2. shoreacres

    The Vista House is gorgeous. No matter the weather, that would be worth seeing. I’m still feeling waterfall deprived. There’s not much chance of me getting to the PNW, but it certainly looks like waterfall territory. And of course the Columbia River bar is another issue altogether. At the far west end of Galveston island, there’s a mini-bar (yes, pun intended) that the Columbia River puts to shame, but it still takes its victims every year. Those Columbia River bar pilots earn their pay.

    Reply
    1. Jim R Post author

      We have a few small waterfall in NE IA as you probably know. The big ones are impressive.

      I watched a program about the pilots on the bar. Wow! Talk about challenging. I like the pun.

      Reply
  3. underswansea

    Wonderful post! I would like to go there someday. We live at the headwaters of the Columbia and have seen where it bubbles out of the ground. It would be nice to see how it looks at the other end.

    Reply
    1. Jim R Post author

      It is a big and impressive river. When it reaches the Pacific, there are battles that go on with large river currents and ocean swells and tides. Special navigation skills are needed there. Crews of rescue boats are on the ready. Quite different from bubbling out of the ground. That I would like to see.

      Reply
      1. underswansea

        http://www.canalflats.com/content/source-columbia-river

        Here is a link to the trail at the headwaters. I had the job of maintaining the trail for awhile. My boss was a Pentecostal Minister, white supremacist, who took his followers out in the woods to shoot off their guns to prepare for the race war. If it taught me anything it was not to fear these jokers, because they couldn’t organize their way out of a paper bag.

        Reply
        1. Jim R Post author

          It doesn’t look like a big town. The Kootenay River is there, too. The town must be the highest elevation. The map shows a canal. Is it used for anything?

          Funny comments about the pentecostal group.

        2. underswansea

          The Kootenay River is within a mile of the headwaters of the Columbia. It flows for over 400 miles before it finally flows into the Columbia. A canal was built in the late 1800’s, across the mile of land, to join the Kootenay and Columbia. The idea was to get passage for Steamboats and also control flooding on fertile land near Creston, BC. The town of Canal Flats is named after this endeavour. As for the Pentecostal Minister, working for him was testing.

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