Two of our favorite things are hiking and waterfalls. Do you know what is really amazing? When you can actually put the two of them together. One of our favorite places to see waterfalls almost any time of year is the Columbia Gorge on the Oregon side of the river. The Columbia Gorge waterfall area is incredible and it’s home to such a variety of waterfalls. If you’re in Portland you might as well head east and visit all of the many waterfalls and see what you can see. If you’re in Hood River, same thing: go experience the amazing waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge!
The geology of the Columbia Gorge is really fascinating. On the north side of the river there are buttes, plateaus and the High Prairie. On the south side of the river starting in the east it’s all buttes just like on the north side and then it rapidly turns into lush forests and hills, then turning into cliffs and moving on all the way to the rolling hills around the Portland area.
There are two ways that you can approach doing the waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge. You can start in Portland or you can start in Hood River, but it depends on what you want your final destination to be. We’re going to tackle these starting at the western end.
Note: starting earlier in the day for this adventure is best, as there going to be a lot of people doing this same route any day of the week. Oregon’s historic Route 30 is a narrow two lane road and it easy to be distracted by the beautiful scenery, the mossy cliffs and the plummeting falls everywhere. The most important thing to remember is that no matter how breathtaking every sight is around every corner, the road is exceptionally dangerous and requires full attention driving.
The first sight on historic Oregon Highway 30 is Vista House. Vista House is the coolest little Art Deco building at the top of a cliff overlooking the Columbia River to the west, north, and east. It is the best place on the Columbia River to see a sunset. It’s absolutely beautiful. If you’re there during the right hours you can go into Vista house. The stained glass and stone work are just amazing. It’s the only man-made sight along the tour of the waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge.
any time but the summer is WINDY and cold at Vista House. It’s a great place to propose or to wow your kids with shocking gusts of wind.