May 21, 2011
Troutdale advertises itself as the Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge with a huge metal gate at the entrance to town. It guides you onto Historic Highway 30, which at one time was the only way East from the mouth of the Columbia. Now there is an interstate. The scenic drive is typified by sheer cliffs, overlooks, many waterfalls, steep, narrow, twisting roads in some places.
Vista House sits at the crest. It gives panoramic views of the area and the only “rest stop” with bathrooms. It is dedicated to the memory of Samuel Lancaster, the chief engineer of Highway 30 who overcame tremendous obstacles both political and physical to replace the Columbia Trail with a hard surface road so that millions of us can enjoy the “Poetry and drama of God’s spectacular Creations.”
There isn’t much parking space for motor homes on the various pull outs to its scenic wonders and hikes. Jim hesitated driving into this spot because you couldn’t see far enough ahead to know if you could get back out. The warning on this road is no vehicle over 50 feet long. We are 46 feet with the tow. On the trip we saw one other very small Class C motor home.
The view upstream from the crest.
The first falls was Latourell, I was lucky enough to get from the window. No available parking for us here.
At Bridal Veil falls, I hiked the steep double back trail down to the bottom of the falls. It you go, realize the trails make the walk easy enough and benches for resting on the way back up are strategically placed.
This falls comes down in layers and ripples like a river before it hits bottom.
The falls we wanted to see most, Multnomah, is the second highest year-round waterfall in the U.S. It plummets 620 feet against some beautiful basalt water formations. But, the parking area was crowded and we couldn’t get off the narrow road enough to walk back to it at any spot. It was just a lucky shot I got out the window. There is a beautiful picture of it at Wikipedia with a daring bridge and both tiers showing. You can check it out at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multnomah_Falls
My point is, if you go, take a car, not a motor home. There is a visitors center here and you could spend some time just drinking in the freshness and beauty of this site.
Again, no parking available at Horseshoe Falls. I caught a shot of it with my head out the window. A woman walking by said to me, “You are the picture!” We both laughed. One thing about this road, you must drive slowly. It was tight and narrow for the motor home but after Jim’s trip to Central America, nothing daunts him.
In a couple of places the basalt hung over the road and appeared like it would hit the top of the motor home.
We drove on to the Bonneville Dam. More on that tomorrow.