Monday, January 16, 2012

Vista House and Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge

Yesterday my wife and I were eager to get out of the house despite the cold front that moved in this weekend. We went to Multnomah Falls via the Historic Columbia River Road, or Old Route 30. This has got to be one of the prettiest stretches of roadway this close to a major urban area. Sadly, due to the snow and my automobile's inefficiencies when faced with the elements, I could not pull off as often as I wanted to to take photos of this historic roadway. At the end of the winter, I promise that I shall return and complete the task, but for now, I snapped a few photos of the road.

In addition to the road you will see Vista House, a gorgeous old building on the National Registry of Historic Places. It was built in 1918 as a memorial to Oregon Pioneers. It is perched on top of a lookout point on the edge of the Columbia River Gorge. Automobiles traveling on interstate 84 way down below look tiny from up here, and the views are breathtaking. Throughout most of the year Vista House is packed with tourists and their cars, making it almost impossible to find a parking spot. But not today. Maybe it was the snow and frigid winds that kept most folks away.

There was no hiking done today, merely a quick out-of-the-car-look-see-and-back. My intention was to see Multnomah Falls in the winter, when the crowds weren't bad. I was mistaken. Crowds may not be as bad in winter as they are in the summer and autumn, but there was most certainly a crowd out today huddled around the bottom of the falls as well as, of course, the iconic bridge that gets one an even better glimpse of the falls.

At 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is the tallest falls in the state of Oregon and the second-tallest year-round waterfalls in the United States. You can see the falls from the interstate, and the falls itself is a very quick walk away from the parking lot and lodge. Multnomah Falls Lodge, itself a gorgeous historic building built in 1915, contains an info center, a pricey but excellent restaurant, a snack shop, a coffee stand, and a gift shop.

Here are a few photos from our day-trip. I will, of course, be returning one day soon to cover Multnomah Falls in its entirety, as well as provide many more photos of the Historic Columbia Gorge Roadway.

Historic Columbia Gorge Roadway
Historic Columbia Gorge Roadway
Historic Columbia Gorge Roadway
Historic Columbia Gorge Roadway - At Latourell Falls right off the road
Latourell Falls
Multnomah Falls Lodge, with the falls in the background
Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls and the bridge
Looking down into the second section of the falls from the bridge
Road up to Vista House
Vista House

In the not so frosted and frigid future, expect much better and many more photos of historic Vista House, the view from Vista House, Latourell Falls, the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway, historic Mulnomah Falls Lodge, and of course of Mulnomah Falls itself.


  1. I want to spend the night in both of those buidings! Talk about scenic!

    1. Extremely scenic, and much more enjoyable on a day that isn't quite so cold. Mid January in one of the windiest places in the country ON TOP of a wide-open hill in said windy area does not make for the greatest conditions for taking in such a view. But man, its wicked cool in this part of the country. To stand up there and try to imagine Lewis & Clark and their crew traveling down that river, so close to the end of their journey over 200 years ago is pretty awe-some. And the buildings are gritty, wind-blown, historic beauties. Get your butt out here, JK, and we'll hit the gorge before a pub crawl.