Sheppard’s Dell – Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway


During my previous visit to the Columbia River Gorge, I distinctly remember making the decision to drive past Sheppard’s Dell without stopping.  From the road, it looked like an area that would have required a long hike downhill, and I was too lazy to investigate.  So on this trip, I was determined to see what I had missed.

Sheppard’s Dell is the last roadside attraction you’ll pass, before Old Rte. 30 climbs up to Crown Point.  In September 2006, a washout had forced road crews to close the byway just west of Sheppard’s Dell (which meant the only way to reach Crown Point was a very long loop around from the west–good thing I visited it on Day 2!).  I drove past the “Road Closed Ahead” signs, hoping I could reach Sheppard’s Dell without much trouble.  Not only was I able to get there, it was more rewarding than I expected (and easier to access, too!)

A short walk down from the road ends at this waterfall, just a small portion of a much larger cascade, that’s simply too large to fit into any one picture.  The fall leaves added an extra touch.

It only takes a short walk to reach this point, down a paved path that resembles the historic roadway, thanks to an arched stone wall.

From the bottom of Sheppard’s Dell, you can see the old arched bridge that carries old Rte. 30.

About halfway up the path, I found a good spot to photograph the lower portion of the falls.  There’s no way to reach the lowest point, where the cascade splashes into a small pool of clear water.

Since the road was closed beyond Sheppard’s Dell, I had the rare chance to walk along the middle of the old historic road, without worrying about traffic.

Take a close look at this distinctive road, and then watch for it in car and truck commercials on TV.  This road is very popular with ad filming crews.

Thanks to the lack of traffic, the road was covered with pine needles and leaves.

Stop on the bridge for this view of the surrounding countryside…

… and of course, the historic bridge itself.

According to, Sheppard’s Dell is named after the original landowner, George Sheppard, who donated the land to the public in 1915.  The bridge that spans the Dell was constructed in 1913, and is registered as a National Historic Landmark.

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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