Enjoy waterfalls? Try Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Oregon

See my post Central Oregon-Eugene and Bend for information on those parts of Oregon.

Another scenic area to visit in Oregon is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 292,500 acres, running from the mouth of the Sandy River to the mouth of the Deschutes River and spanning southern Washington and northern Oregon. The Gorge is unique in its natural and cultural history, as well as its designation as a National Scenic Area.

The National Scenic Area is home to the Historic Columbia River Highway, dubbed America’s first scenic highway by many. The original Columbia River Highway’s official dedication took place on June 7, 1916.  It was designed to bring travelers to the most breathtaking sights and scenes in the Gorge. Its iconic and innovative design included rock walls, bridges and structures such as Vista House and Multnomah Falls Lodge.

When the Scenic Area was created in 1986, the idea was to help reconnect the pieces of this unique highway to create the new “Historic Columbia River Highway.” You can explore the modern highway today with a combination of driving, biking, and walkways. Several of the most iconic spots, such as Multnomah Falls and Eagle Creek, were developed in conjunction with the highway’s construction, to bring motorists to the Gorge’s most beautiful areas.

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Today, this scenic drive remains one of the best in the nation. However, popularity comes at a price.  Stop-and-go traffic is common along the waterfall corridor most weekends from spring until fall.  To make the most of your visit and time, go on a weekday or early in the morning to minimize crowds and congestion.  From Vista House to the Portland International Airport is only a 30 minute drive without heavy traffic, so it’s easy to make this area a stopover to or from the airport even if you aren’t staying in the Portland area.  I would like to go back another time to explore the Portland area and west of there, including Cannon Beach.  Any other suggestions?