Columbia River Gorge Oregon

The Scenery Here, As Well As The Many Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls, Is Simply Stunning 

The Columbia River Gorge Oregon is located in the north-west United States. It forms part of the State boundary between Oregon in the south and Washington in the north.

The Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The gorge stretches for more than 80 miles as the great Columbia River cuts its way through the Cascade Mountains out to the Pacific Ocean in the west. It is an area packed with amazing waterfalls, there are over ninety on the Oregon side of the river alone.

One of the most amazing of these falls is the 620 foot high Multnomah Falls. It is one the highest waterfalls in the United States.

The gorge is such an attractive place that in November 1986 the U.S. Congress made it the very first United States Scenic Area.

At the same time the Columbia River Gorge Commission was created.

Their job is to arrange joint action between the states of Washington and Oregon to plan development within the Scenic Area.

The general day to day management is carried out by the U.S. Forest Service.

Multnomah Falls

Not only is the area noted for its many beautiful waterfalls but it is also rapidly gaining a reputation for the number of Columbia Gorge Wineries that are now making first class wines. One of the most popular tourist attractions are the tours where you can enjoy tasting the wines produced in the region.

The Columbia River Gorge Oregon is also a great place for many all-year round sporting activities. There is camping, hiking, boating, fishing, kayaking, golf, bird watching and white water rafting. In addition to all that, at nearby Mount Hood you can ski and snowboard.

However, the two sports most strongly associated with the Columbia Gorge are kite-boarding and windsurfing. This is because the gorge acts almost like a wind tunnel. At either end of the gorge there are different atmospheric pressures. The winds blow from the high pressure area to the low pressure area. This can create wind speeds of up to thirty miles per hour.

At times there are literally hundreds of multi-coloured sails skimming over the water as the surfers and boarders take advantage of the perfect conditions.

The Columbia River Gorge was created by the cutting action of the river, this was then accentuated at the end of the last Ice Age. Massive amounts of melt water cut the steep cliff walls that you can now see today.

In some places the height from the water level to the top of the plateau can be 4,000 feet.

The first white Americans to see the Columbia River Gorge Oregon are believed to be the great explorers Lewis and Clark who traveled down it in 1805.

However, archaeological excavations have discovered evidence of man`s existence in the gorge going back 13,000 years.

Lewis and Clark encountered many native Americans and saw any number of villages in their journey along the gorge. The first permanent building is thought to have been erected in 1838 at what is now known as The Dalles. It was the Methodist Wascopam Mission built by the brothers Jason and Daniel Lee.

The Colombia River Gorge has always been a natural route through the Cascade Mountain Range as travellers moved east to west. The original pioneers to Oregon used it, although getting past the rapids on the river was often difficult. But modern transport communications soon arrived. In 1883 the Northern Pacific Railway completed their line along the north shore of the gorge.

Nowadays there is the Interstate 84 and the Union Pacific running on the Columbia River Gorge Oregon side and the Washington Highway 14 and the Burlington Northern Railroad on the northern side.

Now, where there were once only Native American villages and mission churches, the gorge boasts thirteen cities. There are also four great bridges crossing the Columbia River. There is The Dalles Bridge that runs between The Dalles in Oregon to Dallesport in Washington. 

The Bridge of the Gods

The wonderfully named Bridge of the Gods between Cascade Locks and Stevenson, also The Hood River Bridge and The Sam Hill Memorial Bridge.

The economy of the gorge region used to be centred around logging in the vasts forests that cover the area. That has now changed as the need for timber has reduced. Much of the wealth of the region is now generated from tourism and to a lesser extent by the production of wine.

In 2004 the Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area was established. Conditions in the gorge are ideal for the cultivation of vines. There are now over 4,400 acres, spread over both sides of the river, where grapes are grown. The wine produced is gaining a reputation for its high quality.


Mount Hood

The tourist trade in the Columbia River Gorge benefits from being all year round. In winter the northern slopes of Mount Hood are full of skiers and snow-boarders, while in the other seasons tourists arrive in their thousands to enjoy everything that the gorge area has to offer.

Most visitors enjoy seeing the region on one of the many spectacular scenic drives.

Especially popular is the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway and the Mount Hood Scenic Byway on the Columbia River Gorge Oregon side. This drive of about three hours takes in beautiful forests and the glacier on Mount Hood, the highest point in Oregon.

As well as these fantastic scenic drives the Columbia River Gorge is renowned for its many great hiking trails. The hills and forests hide dozens of trails which take in amazing scenery and many wonderful views.

Whatever you do when you visit the Columbia River Gorge Oregon I know you will have a really great time.