The Columbia River Gorge was formed eons ago by catastrophic events. After the ice glaciers started to melt, huge quantities of water were held back by natural ice dams. When the dams broke, torrents of water and boulders came rushing down to carve this beautiful gorge.
But you don’t need to know the history of this natural wonder to enjoy its beauty. The scenic and historic Columbia River Highway will take you from the town of Troutdale, close to Portland, to the town of Dalles 75-miles away and passing by commanding viewpoints and flowing waterfalls.
Interesting Facts: The Gorge starts from British Columbia and ends at Astoria on the Oregon Coast. It spans 260,000 square miles in 7 states.
Before I went exploring on my own, I decided to try a guided tour. This was a great decision.
I went with Hub World Tours on a full day tour of the Gorge and Mt Hood. The tour was very well organized and informative. It was a good way to get introduced to a new place.
I was picked up from a hotel in downtown in a nice Mercedes van and headed to Troutdale, a small historic town at the start of the historic Columbia River Gorge Highway. The town sits on the banks of Sandy river which flows into the Columbia River.
Our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. She kept us informed about the history of the gorge and the cataclysmic events that shaped this area. She took us to the most interesting viewpoints and waterfalls.
The building sits on a promontory with a great view of the river and hills on the Oregon and Washington sides. On a windy or rainy day, the indoors viewing gallery with it floor to ceiling windows provides shelter while you are enjoying the views. Downstairs you can find restrooms and a coffee shop.
After our stop at the vista house, we passed by Latourell Falls and Bridal Veil Falls then stopped at Wahkeena Falls.
At Wahkeena we enjoyed a great view from the viewing platform right next to the highway and watched the water gushing down from a height of 242 feet and under the road. Our guide pointed out a trail that we can take to get closer to the waterfall.
We spent some time at Wahkeena then continued on to Multnomah Falls. This is really the highlight of the tour. We took our time enjoying the view from the bottom, then hiked to the bridge for a closer view. From the bridge, you can watch the cascading waters from one side and the beautiful Columbia River from the other. See the full article about Columbia River Gorge here …
The tour then continued on the Historic Highway towards Hood River where we turned onto Highway 35 towards Mt Hood.
Mt hood is always covered by snow and ice. This gives it the distinction of having the longest Ski season in the USA. When we arrived on an April day, it was lightly snowing with ski lifts running and skiers and snowboarders enjoying the slopes.
It was mainly built from recycled material to reduce cost, but you wouldn’t know that when you gaze at its architecture or when you go inside. The indoors main hall is elegant with 3 fireplaces. The place is warm and cozy.
Stepping outside, you will feel the huge drop in temperature, and you can watch the skiers and snowboarder zipping by on the slopes.
During this tour, we enjoyed nature at its extremes. On the first leg of this trip, we visited lush greenery with cascading waterfalls and got wet from the light rain and the waterfall mist. On the second leg, we enjoyed the cold and snowy weather while admiring Timberline Lodge - half buried under the snow.