Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway


It took 9 days, but the trip had officially come full-circle.  I was back at the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway, just outside of Portland.  On Day 2 I visited Crown Point (and on a previous visit, I had seen Horsetail Falls, Oneonta Gorge, Multnomah Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Latourell Falls)  I knew I wasn’t in for any big surprises, since I was familiar with the area, but I still wanted to seek out some places I hadn’t seen before.

At the eastern end of Old Rte. 30 (the turnoff is well signed along Interstate 84)…

… I found this old motel sign.  The motel itself appeared overgrown, and I believe parts of it were being used as a private residence, so I didn’t explore any further.

The first falls you pass (heading west) is Horsetail Falls.

Sometimes it’s fun to try to take the exact same picture as on a previous visit.  This was my attempt, and to be honest, I think I took a better picture in 2004.

Old Rte. 30, the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway, is narrow and curvy (understandable, since it was one of the first scenic roads ever constructed in this country).  When you’re driving, drive slowly, and when you’re walking on or near the road, keep a watch out for cars.

Next up is Oneonta Gorge.  I’m always amazed that this area isn’t closed as a safety hazard.  In order to reach the gorge, and the waterfall that’s beyond it, you have to climb over a huge logjam.  Your feet are already wet (there’s no choice but to step into the water in a few places) and the logs have been smoothed by the thousands of feet that have walked over them.  As a result, one unsure step puts you at risk of falling between the logs.  The variety of possible injuries is unlimited.

On my 2004 trip, I climbed past the logjam, then hiked through the water up the gorge (not all the way to the waterfall, just to the point that the water started to get deep).   This time, common sense prevailed, and I stopped about halfway through the tangle of logs.

You can look up in the gorge, by looking down.  I’m fairly certain this picture is upside-down, by the way.

Around mile marker 32 (you’ll see the historic concrete markers along the side of the road) you come to the biggest attraction in the gorge…

 … the stunning Multnomah Falls.  There is always a huge crowd here, and there’s a good reason.  At 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is the second tallest year-round waterfall in the U.S.  It’s also one of the country’s most recognizable waterfalls, thanks to the Benson Footbridge that crosses in front of the upper cascade.  You can hike up to the bridge, or all the way to the top of the falls.  Hiking trails also lead from here to other nearby falls in the gorge.

If you don’t want to invest a lot of time driving the old scenic highway, you can still see Multnomah Falls.  There is a separate Interstate exit, and parking area, devoted specifically to I-84 traffic.

So far, I had seen everything I had seen before.  But there’s one place I missed on my first trip, and it turned out to be very rewarding.  Sheppard’s Dell is on the next page.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.  Much of the same area was covered in the Big Sky trip in 2014.

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