Only 30 minutes west from Portland, you will be able to explore the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful scenic areas in the Pacific Northwest. It offers the best views, hiking, and waterfalls which makes it one of my favorite places in Oregon.
Here you’ll find the best places you must-see while exploring the Gorge.
Drive the Historic Columbia River Highway-
If you can choose the scenic road- choose it. The views from this road are incredible! While driving you will pass through viewpoints, waterfalls, and hikes. I love taking this road and stop in the different waterfalls.
Located on the Historic Columbia River Highway, The Vista House at Crown Point is a scenic viewpoint with an outstanding view. The house was designed by architect Edgar Lazarus and opened in 1918. The viewpoint provides panoramic views of the gorge and the building is being used as a museum and a gift shop.
Another recommended viewpoint is Rowena Crest Viewpoint. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Hood River. It is an iconic viewpoint that creates a horseshoe curve along the road.
The unique place is one of the most photographed roads in Oregon. It’s beautiful all year round, and each time you’ll notice a different scenery. If you’re looking for a hike, you can do the easy 2.5 miles loop with breathtaking views.
Chasing the Waterfalls-
Oregon has more than 238 known waterfalls- 90 of them are on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.
The most famous waterfall is Multnomah Falls in which I wrote in “The Best 5 Waterfalls in Oregon”. It is the tallest and most touristic waterfall in Oregon. In addition to this beautiful waterfall, you will find Latourell Falls, Dry Creek Falls, Starvation Creek Falls, Wahclella Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and more.
I recommend visiting Starvation Creek Falls during a summer day. You can go up all the way to the fall. On a rainy/ winter day it won’t be as fun to go up and go all the way beneath the falls. Also, there’s a nice picnic area at the bottom. You can pack snacks or lunch and enjoy the beautiful view.
Cycling on the Columbia River Gorge-
As for today, there are 73 miles where you can bike or walk through the Columbia gorge. If you enjoy cycling or simply want to walk/run, this is a beautiful road to do so. You can see the view of the river, hidden waterfalls, and enjoy the hikes.
The Columbia River Gorge has many hiking trails. You can walk all the way to a hidden waterfall or climb a mountain and reach an incredible view.
Some of my favorite hikes include Angel’s Rest, Multnomah Falls, and Wahkeena Falls.
- Angel’s Rest- is 4.5 miles moderate out and back trail. The trail is primarily used for hiking and best used from April to September.
- Wahkeena Falls- there’re a few options for this one. The most popular are moderate 3.1 miles out and back trail, moderate 4.7 loop and moderate 6.2 loops.
- Multnomah Falls- the most popular one is an easy 2 miles out and back. There are a few other options for longer loops.
- Latourell Falls- moderate 2-mile loop.
You can find more hikes in the app- All Trails. Another option is at the official website of the Columbia River Gorge where you’ll find real-time alerts as well.
Visit the Windsurfing Capital-
Hood River is a lovely town during the summer. It is called the windsurfing capital of the world! In addition to the nearest hiking and viewpoints, the place offers craft breweries, wineries, and restaurants. The place doesn’t have a lot of attractions during the winter but definitely worth a visit during the summer and is one of the most beautiful town on the Columbia Gorge.