Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway – Cliffs, Overlooks, and Waterfalls From the Road

As much as I love visiting Washington’s waterfalls (the most of any state in the U.S.) there’s nothing like the string of waterfalls in Oregon, on this historic stretch of highway on the Columbia Gorge. Add to that the rugged cliffs, overlooks and views of the Columbia River, this short road trip is hard to beat.

The Historic Columbia River Highway is an approximately 75-mile-long scenic highway in the U.S. state of Oregon between Troutdale and The Dalles built through the Columbia River Gorge between 1913 and 1922 .. the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. The historic roadway was bypassed by the present Interstate 84 from the 1930s to the 1950s, leaving behind the old two-lane road.” Wikipedia

We took a trip earlier this week which culminated in our traveling west on the Columbia Gorge on Historic Route 30.

We’ve taken the spectacular waterfall section of the road before, but the section from the Dalles was new to us, and quite a discovery, including the overlook at Rowena Crown, where after climbing the narrow, winding road, we found marvelous views of the Gorge below,

and the McCall Nature Preserve with walking trails among the wildflowers.

The next day we took the remainder of the highway from Hood River and there the waterfalls began; many can be seen from the road, no hiking required.

I’ll show you three of my favorites, in the order in which we encountered them, starting with Horsetail Falls.

We stopped the car, crossed the street, gawked, then continued traveling west on a road almost swallowed by giant cliffs.

In fact the original highway went through Oneonta Bluff, a major engineering feat at the time.

Multnomah was next, at 620 feet it’s the second highest year-round waterfall in the U.S. It’s a must see and can be reached easily from the old highway 30 (like we did) or from the new highway 84.

The spray doused us as we neared the base of the falls and that was the extent of our hiking.

Our last waterfall stop was Latourell Falls

where we took the short hike to the base, which was lit up by sun rays high above the cliffs.

Our last stop on the highway was at the historic Vista House at Crown Point, 693 feet above the river. It was built in 1916 as a comfort station for travelers on the new scenic highway.

It was closed but it didn’t matter; the view’s the thing.

If you’ve never taken this beautiful stretch of road, I highly recommend it.

Sharing with Sunday Stills, #Road.

~ Susanne

47 Comments on “Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway – Cliffs, Overlooks, and Waterfalls From the Road

  1. I know that road well. You got some terrific photos. I think that drive is one of the prettiest in all the US.

  2. Wow! Thanks for showing these wonderful and very impressive photos. At first sight i thought this only could be somewhere in the rainforest. I think there needs to be time in future for discovering the USA. Best wishes, and enjoy your weekend! xx Michael

    • Thanks so much, Michael! I’ve taken this drive many times, but I’m always amazed at its beauty! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the reblog. 🙂

  3. This is so cool to see, Susanne! I’ve driven through 84 now countless times and of course Multnomah Falls is visible from the road. Your pics of these waterfalls are stunning, and I even looked this up on google maps to see where all this is! Not too far from us especially since we plan to visit Hood River this summer. I also love the shot of the arrowleaf sunflowers on McCall Point trail! So glad you shared and now I will have to mark this down as another “local” destination!

  4. I always loved hiking in the Gorge. It was a long hard trek up, but coming down was so lovely! Often we would hike up to the spring producing the falls. Great times. Thanks for reminding me.

  5. Waterfalls, courtesy of your talent! Gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Next time you plan a trip to the Columbia Gorge I hope you will be able to plan to visit The Shire (it’s on the Washington side, SR 14, a bit beyond Washougal). It is currently closed for maintenance and restoration after severe winter damage but hoping to re-open to the public by early-midsummer. A very interesting story behind The Shire, hope you have an opportunity to check out this very scenic but seldom visited landmark.

    • Thanks for the tip. I’ve never heard of the Shire before but will look it up. We usually go to Skamania on the Washington side of the Gorge, and to the Maryhill Museum.

  6. Never took that road, which I now regret on seeing your fabulous photos. The waterfalls are spectacular and the views not far behind!

  7. My nephew took us to Multnomah Falls a few months back—a wonderous beauty.

  8. Susanne, you did a fabulous job capturing the beauty of Multnomah Falls. They are captivating! There is something about waterfalls, the power and force of nature, presenting with such magnificence! Thank you for sharing your adventure. Hugs, C

    • Thank you so much! We’ve seen Multnomah Falls many times before but there was so much water coming over this time, they truly were powerful and filled the air with spray even from a distance. Glad you enjoyed the pictures!

  9. You are blessed with amazing scenery, and your photos showcase it perfectly. Well done, Susanne.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Thanks so much, Pete. This is truly one of the most scenic drives in the region, and the best place I know to see so many waterfalls easily in one afternoon. 🙂

  10. What a fabulous road trip! We drove through the gorge on our Oregon trip decades ago (1997 I think) and I remember Multnomah but not these other falls. From your photos Latourell look the most scenic, surrounded by those lovely trees 😀

    • It’s a truly special road trip. The old highway 30 is wonderful, passing by numerous waterfalls. Latourell is one my favorites.

  11. I’m so glad I stumbled on this post. I’ll be visiting the gorge for the first time in early June. This was a great introductory guide. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: