Columbia River Gorge

May 1, 2011 at 10:35 pm Leave a comment

Quite often I pet sit in Portland, OR.  On my way down from Wenatchee, WA there are some pretty interesting things to see.
One of the places that I like to stop is America’s very own Stonehenge located on Highway 97 just before crossing the Columbia river into Oregon.  On a bluff overlooking the Columbia River and the town of Maryhill, WA is the full size replica.  An almost identical copy of the more famous English Stonehenge.  It was built by Sam Hill, a road builder, as a memorial of those who died in World War I.  Sam Hills mansion, as well as the American Stonehenge, are now a part of the Maryhill Museum of Art, which also includes monuments to the soldiers of Klickitat county who died in World War II, Korea and Viet Nam.

Maryhills Stonehenge

After crossing the Columbia River at Biggs start driving west along the Columbia River for about 45 minutes and you will come to Hood River.  This area is always bustling with sailboarders and kiteboarders in the summer months.  It’s fun to see all the brightly colored sails.  The wind coming through this area is perfect for this sport.

If you want to stay in this area, why not stop by the stately Columbia Gorge Hotel on a bluff overlooking the mighty Columbia River with its Wah Gwin Gwin Falls on Phelps Creek located on the hotels property.   Look it up and read about it’s history!
I often get a glimpse of the Sternwheeler that tours along the Columbia River.  There are several different sightseeing tours during the summer months.  I haven’t taken any but I sure enjoy watching it plugging along and I like thinking about the days gone by when this was very much a way of life for many people.  If you want to enjoy the experience you can go to the Cascade Locks Visitor Center.  It might be a fun way to spend a beautiful day on the Columbia River. 

Continuing on I have to mention Multnomah Falls.   Multnomah Falls is a waterfall located east of Troutdale, along the historic Columbia River Highway. The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet and a lower falls of 69 feet.  Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the State of Oregon and is an awesome sight.  Underground springs are the year-round source of water for the waterfall, augmented by spring runoff from the mountain’s snowpack and rainwater during the other seasons.  A foot trail leads to Benson Footbridge that allows visitors to cross 105 feet above the lower cascade. The trail continues to a platform at the top of the upper falls, the Larch Mountain Lookout, where visitors get a bird’s-eye view of the Columbia Gorge and also of “Little Multnomah”, a small cascade slightly upstream from the “upper” falls, which is not visible from ground level.

Multnomah Falls

If I’m traveling to Portland in the winter months I always look for the swans on Mirror Pond just west of Rooster Rock exit on Interstate 84.  What a treat to see these beautiful birds!  The migrating swans winter November through March in parts of the Columbia River Gorge before going back to their Arctic tundra nesting grounds.

Swans on Mirror Lake

Of course this entire area is part of the Lewis and Clark trail so there is tons of history along this route.  The list of places to see goes on and on.  So if you ever get a chance to travel along the Columbia Gorge, plan an extra day or two to really enjoy it!


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