Just before Tracy landed her job (the day before to be exact!), we took a drive through the Columbia River Gorge. We woke up to a relatively clear and sunny day which we thought would make for a beautiful backdrop. We've learned that you need to take advantage when you see the sun because you never know when you'll see it again! The forecast was for cooler temperaturates and a little wind, but we figured the sun would counter balance that.
The gorge from the historic highway
So off we went. Little did we know that when the weatherman predicts wind, the gorge is not the place to go! Apparently, there are atamostopheric wind differentials on the east and west sides of the Cascades, which effectively make the gorge a wind tunnel. It's a very popular place for windsurfing and we now understand why. In other words, if you go to the gorge, expect wind!
Latourell Falls, 249 ft drop
The Columbia River separates Oregon from Washington so we decided we'd drive the Oregon side on the way out and the Washington side on the way back. There are only a few places where you can cross the river, so we had to keep that in mind as we meandered along.
Wahkeena Falls, 242 ft drop
We drove along the historic Columbia River Highway (historic route 30). It's the oldest scenic highway in the U.S. The highway was completed in 1922 and was an engineering achievement in its time. It was a main thoroughfare back then, but was eventually replaced with I-84. The highway has been restored to resemble what it looked like back in the 20's and 30's.
Bridal Veil Falls, upper falls 100 ft drop, lower falls 60 foot drop
It's a beautiful drive through the forests and along the cliff sides, with several overlooks and numerous waterfalls along the way. We stopped at most of the pull offs and walked a few short trails. Unfortunately, the wind was brutal, even among the trees, so we found ourselves staying outside just long enough to snap a few pictures. Like many of our adventures this winter, we'd like to return in the warmer weather to do some more serious hiking.
Multnomah Falls, upper falls 542 ft drop, lower falls 69 foot drop
This is the tallest falls in Oregon and the 3rd tallest year-round falls in the U.S.
After taking in so many awesome waterfalls, we headed out of the forest and to the gorge to visit the Bonneville Dam. The Dam was built in the early 1930's as part of the New Deal program. It's main functions are river navigation and generating hydroelectric power.
By the time we reached the town of Cascade Locks, about 30 miles down the highway, we pretty much felt beaten down by the wind. The next river crossing was another 15 or 20 miles further east and it was getting late enough that we decided to start heading back towards home. The drive on the Washington side wasn't nearly as scenic and was a bit of a disappointment compared to the historic route. There weren't many stopping points and it quickly veered away from the gorge so there wasn't much to see. But our alternative would have been to return via I-84 which we didn't want to do, so we still enjoyed our drive.