Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. ~ Frank Lloyd Wright
HISTORIC COLUMBIA RIVER HWY OREGON
So, when I left off in my last blog entry, we were heading up the Historic Columbia River Highway on our way to Moses Lake, Washington – home to our dear friends Randy and Celeste. Randy and Celeste lived in Alaska for about 30 years, and moved to Moses Lake nearly a decade ago. Their choice to leave AK didn’t come easy. There were a few factors involved – one being that they (especially Celeste) are avid gardeners and the short growing season here in Interior Alaska was quite frustrating for them. Especially as we are limited on the crops we can plant here. Steve and I hadn’t seen them since they left Alaska, and since Moses Lake is only about 275 miles from Portland, we just had to include them in our travels. We are so thankful for their hospitality in putting us up for a couple of nights. What a wonderful couple of days we had with not only cherished friends, but amazing people!
The Historic Columbia River Highway, 30 miles east of Portland, is the oldest scenic highway in the United States. It was constructed between 1913 and 1922, in Multnomah, Hood River and Wasco counties. The highway is divided into three zones: the waterfall zone extends from Troutdale to the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks; the Columbia River zone extends from Cascade Locks to Hood River; the high plateau zone extends from Hood River to The Dalles. Not all of the historic highway is open to motor vehicle traffic (repairing it was abandoned during construction of Interstate 84). However, these portions of the road are open to foot and bicycle traffic and make up The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.
Perhaps the highway is better known because you can view and access many waterfalls along the way. Fed by glaciers and swollen by snowmelt and winter rains, the waterfalls plunge from sheer cliffs, hidden slot canyons and rock grottos rimmed by massive trees and moss. Many of these waterfalls are accessible year-round.
We made really good time getting to Moses Lake, even with a few stops along the way. Unfortunately we didn’t do any hiking (which was our initial intent), but we did stop to enjoy some of the waterfalls and the beautiful overlook at Vista House.
The well-recognized Multnomah Falls was even more beautiful in person than it is in photographs. At 611 feet tall, I highly recommend you go a few hundred feet up the trail, for a spectacular view from Benson Bridge. This gives you a closer look at both the top tier of the falls (542 feet!) and a vertigo inducing view of the lower tier (69ft). Be prepared for mist on the bridge.
This is a view of the upper tier from the bridge:
Looking down from the bridge to the base of the falls:
Another view of the falls from the trail: