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“Beautiful scenic drive”

Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway
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US$99.00*
and up
Bike and Hike: Columbia River Gorge Adventure from Portland
Ranked #226 of 2,193 things to do in Oregon
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This route meanders past cascading waterfalls, parks and hiking trails while offering expansive views of the Gorge.
Ocean, New Jersey
Level 6 Contributor
155 reviews
106 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
“Beautiful scenic drive”
Reviewed 14 June 2014

Great drive down into the gorge with lots of waterfalls that are very easy to access. Some of them are right next to the road. Lots of ample parking and all waterfalls are clearly marked. Stop at the Vista House to start your trip for a fantastic view and an information brochure that lists all the falls, distances from each other and how far to walk from the parking lot.

Visited June 2014
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4 Thank Helen G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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83 reviews from our community

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Yokneam Moshava
Level 6 Contributor
353 reviews
255 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 281 helpful votes
“Beautiful Drive Amazing Waterfalls”
Reviewed 5 June 2014

This is indeed a very scenic and beautiful drive along the historic route 30. Good weather and visibility may definitely add to the experience. For the part of the waterfalls, plan your time carefully, because there are at least 4-5 that are worth seeing. You may want to do some of the longer trails that climb to the upper view points. Among those waterfalls are the Latourell, Wahkeena and Multnomah waterfalls. The last ones are among the highest in the US and draw the biggest crowds of visitors. If you're interested in taking good photos (who isn't?) try to get there before noon, when the sun is not exactly above them. The route includes also viewpoints like the Vista house (interesting cellar exhibition!!) and Portland Women's Forum (strange and a bit confusing name but beautiful observation point).

Visited June 2014
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4 Thank OphirB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nashville
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 139 helpful votes
“Scenic stops along the way, but narrow at times”
Reviewed 12 February 2014

National Geographic published a book entitled “Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways,” which describes 275 scenic drives. The Historic Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway is one of them. I have driven about 115 of the routes described in the book, and as you might expect, I have my favorites. I would rate this drive in the top 20, not because of the drive itself, but for the stops along the way. Due to the narrow spots along the route, driving the route demands your full attention, and is not really that scenic of a drive. However, some of the viewpoints and a number of the scenic stops along the way are quite spectacular.

For the record, nowhere along the Columbia River did this ever seem like a “gorge.” It is certainly nothing like Royal Gorge, Colorado, the Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, or any of the deep narrow gorges that exist in the western and southwestern USA. The Columbia River Valley would probably be a better description than gorge. The south (Oregon) side of the river is more like a cliff than the north side. The south side climbs quickly and levels off about 1000 feet above the river.

The Oregon portion of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway (aka Historic Highway US 30) runs along the edge of the cliffs paralleling the river on the Oregon side, ranging from 700 - 1000 feet in altitude, and it ventures down to the shoreline on the eastern end. The Washington side of the river offers a much gentler slope. Although the land does continue to gain altitude as you traverse northward towards Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Adams, there does not appear to be the severe ascent that you see on the Oregon side. The most scenic part of the Oregon portion of the highway runs between Corbett to the west, and Cascade Locks to the east. Officially, the Scenic Byway crosses the river at Cascade Locks, and continues east on Washington State route 14, but I did not have time for that portion of the route on this trip. Interstate 84, which parallels the scenic route and encompasses part of it, follows the river’s edge right along the shoreline about 30 feet above river level. The river level near Corbett is about 12 feet above sea level, and approximately 100 miles upstream at The Dalles, the river level is about 80 feet above sea level, just below the dam. Most, of the famous waterfalls, such as Latourell, Bridal Veil, Wahkeena, and Multnomah to name a few, are located on the Oregon side. I assume that those waterfalls are fed by runoff from Mt. Hood some 25 miles southeast of the main waterfall area.

There is more to see than just waterfalls, but the waterfalls are spectacular, and many of them are easily accessed for those without much time. If you take advantage of the area, including a few hikes, it will take you at least 3-4 days to see just the highlights, although the drive itself is relatively short. As far as viewpoints go, on the west end of Highway US 30, just east of Corbett, watch for The Portland Women’s Forum viewpoint on the north side of the road. That spot offers a great view of the river looking east, with the Crown Point Headland in the distant foreground framed by the walls of the gorge and the river on the horizon. A little further east, Crown Point offers a great view as well - especially from observation deck on Vista House.

Plan to spend a few minutes at the Vista House at Crown Point. The volunteers working there are extremely nice, and will provide all the history about the area that you want to know. There is a cool marble encrusted restroom downstairs that is worth a visit. There is also a nice gift shop in the basement. Take time to stop, and consider leaving a donation to help keep the Vista House in operation.

The Columbia Gorge Scenic Byway gets very narrow at times, so drive slowly and pay attention! There ain’t much room for error in some spots. We were in a big SUV, and at times, it was almost as wide as our lane was.

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
7 Thank 275GTB4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Little Rock, Arkansas
Level 5 Contributor
58 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Drive worth it”
Reviewed 1 December 2013 via mobile

Drove the old highway and the waterfalls were great. It was windy and cold but was worth the weather

Visited November 2013
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Thank SantaC4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jacksonville, FL
Level 6 Contributor
182 reviews
84 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Beautiful drive from Mount Hood to Portland”
Reviewed 7 October 2013

This scenic drive along US 30 from Hood River to Portland was a nice leisurely way to get back to Portland. There were several waterfalls and scenic overlooks with most of the waterfalls being right on the road and easily accessible. This drive is well worth the extra time it takes to go from Mount Hood to Portland.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank LuckyPenny8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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