The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is one of the most glorious Vino con Vista destinations in the United States. Mount Adams in Washington and Mount Hood in Oregon flank the Gorge to the north and south and the Columbia River flows through the middle.
The pristine Mount Hood National Forest extends south from the Columbia River Gorge across more than sixty miles of Douglas fir forested mountains. This area has magnificent snowcapped volcanoes and spectacular cascading waterfalls. This area is located about twenty miles east of Portland.
At 11,239 feet, Mount Hood is the tallest peak in Oregon. Mount Hood is a dormant volcano and has over 7 square miles of skiing terrain with 6 ski areas.
Take a ride along the scenic Columbia River Highway to view the splendor of the Mount Hood Loop. The Columbia River Gorge stretches over 80 miles and is shared by two states: Oregon and Washington. The Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean.
In this region of northern Oregon, visit some magnificent National Historic Landmarks and Monuments:
1. The Timberline Lodge is a rustic architectural wonder located in an area called Government Camp. It was constructed as a ski lodge and mountain retreat. It was one of President Roosevelt’s WPA projects during the Depression using mammoth timbers, native stone and imaginative ironwork.
They have a host of bars and restaurants with a fabulous Sunday Buffet. This incredible lodge is a showcase of talent, ingenuity and local craftsmanship. It was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 on the south slope of Mount Hood at an elevation of 6000 feet. Visit www.timberlinelodge.com for rates and availability.
2. The hydroelectric Bonnevile Dam was built in the late 1930s to harness the force of the Columbia River for power generation. In 1986, the Bonneville Lock and Dam project was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and then it was elevated to National Historic Landmark status. The Bonneville Lock and Dam visitor center provides information on fish migration and the operation of the navigation lock. It has underwater viewing windows where yu can watch salmon swim upstream through underwater windows. Look for Herman the Sturgeon. “He is an eleven foot long, 500 pond, 70 year old resident.” You can hike or bike from the Bonneville Dam to the town of Cascade Locks.
3. The 75 mile scenic Columbia River Highway was built through the Columbia River Gorge between 1913 and 1922. By 1922, Portland was connected to The Dalles by a paved road.
The narrow curving highway leads to a 17 mile drive with the largest concentration of high waterfalls in North America. There are more than 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Gorge. The majestic Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls include: Bridal Veil Falls, Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls and Horse Tail Falls. Visit the Portland Women’s Forum State Park at Chanticleer Point.
4. The octagonal Crown Point Vista House was built in between 1916 and 1918. This historic building is perched 733 feet above the Columbia RIver on a promontory. It is a famous scenic point and observatory on the Columbia River Highway at the summit of Crown Point; listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information visit www.vistahouse.com.
It has a beautiful marble interior. There are 360 degree panoramic views from the cliffs.
Epic Ice Age Missoula floods carved out this dramatic landscape by creating vertical canyon walls and the alluring Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls.
When an ice dam ruptured, the Lake Missoula Floods swept across Eastern Washington and down the Columbia River Gorge.
“This catastrophic flood propelled over 500 cubic miles of water, ice, rock and mud across eastern Washington, further cut the Columbia River Gorge, covered the Willamette Valley with up to 400 feet of water and left gravel bars mile wide and hundreds of feet high.”
“Roughly 15,000 years ago, Ice Age glaciers blocked swollen rivers and created enormous lakes in western Montana and northeastern Washington. When the glacial dams broke, flood waters rushed across Eastern Washington and the Columbia River Gorge and backed into valleys such as the Yakima and Willamette, helping carve the region’s topography. Geologists estimate these catastrophic floods happened up to 100 times.”
For more information about the floods visit: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw09302007/2003905120_pacificpice30.html
The Historic Columbia River Highway passes over Bridal Veil Falls. To see the water cascade off the cliff, take a winding footpath to a bridge that leads to a scenic point. The falls consists of two cascades.
There is a famous post office in the nearby community of Bridal Veil Oregon; established in 1887. This is one of the oldest and busiest post office in the area because brides love to buy stamps and get the postmark. Many wedding invitations are sent from this post office. You can stay at the Bridal Veil Lodge Bed and Breakfast; adjacent to Bridal Veil Falls State Park. For more information visit www.BridalVeilLodge.com
You can hike the trail at Horse Tail Falls. For more information about each waterfall and related hiking opportunities visit www.gorgefriends.org.
Majestic Multnomah Falls has the tallest cascade at 620 feet and drops in two stages from magnificent basalt cliffs. Climb to the Benson footbridge between the upper and lower cascade to get up close and personal with this waterfall.
For an incredible Vino con Vista, climb the stairs to to top of the restaurant in the Multnomah Falls Lodge (www.multnomahfallslodge.com) for some Northwest cuisine. Sip some luscious Gorge Wine as you gaze at the amazing waterfall from the outdoor rooftop dining space. The lodge was built in 1925.
Stop in the visitor center for information about the area and then get some fudge for the road before you leave Multnomah Falls. About two million annual visitors admire this waterfall making it one of Oregon’s favorite destinations.
The next stop on the Way to Crown Point Vista House is Latourell Falls. The cascading waters plunge 249 feet over columnar basalt into the Columbia River. Yellow lichen adorns the right side of the cliff face.
If you love waterfalls, watch this video:
There are plenty of Wineries in the Columbia Gorge area. This scenic area produces a wide variety of grapes and some incredible wine.
You will be in the heart of downtown Hood River and you can walk to many of the interestng Tasting Rooms including: Stoltz Vineyards, Cascade Cliffs, The Pines 1852, Naked Winery, Quentett Winery and Springhouse Cellar Winery. For more information visit www.GorgeWine.com.
Here are two bottles of award wining wine from The Pines Vineyard in The Dalles. (www.thepinesvineyard.com) Have a Vino con Vista in The Dalles and visit The Pines Winery and send my regards to Sierra and Lonnie Wright. Continue your sojourn by visiting the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum where you can learn more about the Gorge, traders and settlers. Then head over to the Lewis and Clark campsite at Rock Fort and continue your journey towards Celilo Village.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides and Apps @ www.vino-con-vista.com