Oregon’s Historic Highway 30: Waterfalls and Nature

From a plaque on the highway:

Opened in 1915, the Historic Columbia River Highway enticed tourists with its own special charm, and the spectacular scenery of the Gorge.”

The forecast was for 89° so we decide to escape Portland. When you are coming from the city, the exit off Hwy 84 is not very well-marked. It’s a tiny little sign underneath the exit to Corbett which we missed it the first time.

Our first stop was Chanticleer Point, with a view of the Columbia River and Vista House in the distance.
View of Vista House from Chanticleer PointFrom there we went to the Vista House itself, an art deco structure. Outside there are some great (but windy) views.
Copper Ceiling in Vista HouseThe first waterfall we came to after Vista House was Latourell Falls. Behind the falls were masses of basalt columns, a legacy from ancient (and not so ancient) volcanos of this region.
Latourell Falls, one of the many waterfalls along Historic Hwy 30 in Oregon Shepperd’s Dell was our next stop along the way. The bridge and the many stone walkways were put in around 1915.
Shepperds Dell, one of the many waterfalls along Historic Hwy 30 in OregonThe stone walkways at Shepperd’s Dell.Shepperd's Dell Stone walkwayIt was about 2/3 mile roundtrip walk to get to Bridal Veil Falls, our next stop along the road. They warned us about the poison oak along the trail, but we also saw tons of stinging nettles which are pretty nasty too.
Poison oak sign at Bridal Veil Falls, one of the many waterfalls along Historic Hwy 30 in Oregon Bridal Veil Falls, well worth endangering ourselves from nasties alongside the trail.
Bridal Veil Falls, one of the many waterfalls along Historic Hwy 30 in Oregon Wahkeena Falls, waterfall number 4 on our road trip.
Wahkeena Falls, one of the many waterfalls along Historic Hwy 30 in Oregon Getting tired of looking at waterfalls? We were. So now it was time to hike up Oneonta Gorge. Oh, did I mention it was a sunny Sunday in September? A man in a hiking shop told us that one has to hike up the (cold, wet) river to get to the Gorge, and the toughest part was scrambling over the log jam. He didn’t mention that you would also have to scramble over dozens of people as well. It almost looked as if all of Portland was trying to do the Gorge hike.
Oneonta Gorge, one of the many sights along Historic Hwy 30 in Oregon Some parts of the hike required really long legs to reach the next step. There were some little kids doing it and their parents had to do a lot of lifting and pulling.
Oneonta Gorge, one of the many sights along Historic Hwy 30 in Oregon I lurked on this side of the jam-up and tried to take photos without people in it. Only there were so many people it was impossible to eliminate them from my photos. Even their reflections kept sneaking into the picture.
Oneonta Gorge, one of the many sights along Historic Hwy 30 in Oregon At this point some of us had sore feet and were petitioning to stop for a lunch break at a brewery in nearby Cascade Locks. There is a tradition of roadhouses along this highway but the introduction of the ‘fast’ Hwy 84 that parallels this historic highway has caused most of them to disappear. However, a new species of roadhouses are springing up.

The Thunder Island Brewing Company is a good example of a modern roadhouse. Here is their beer list for those of you who are similarly inclined.
At Cascade Locks, Thunder Island Brewing Company Beer List We ate on picnic tables along side the Columbia River. The food was as good as the beer. This is my salad with balsamic vinegar & mustard dressing. There were lots of extras in the form of dried cranberries, hazelnuts, blue cheese and chicken salad. I wanted a lighter beer for lunch so I chose a Road Soda Session IPA (4.6%)
At Cascade Locks, Thunder Island Brewing Company SaladThe lads both opted for a deluxe turkey sandwich and various beers. (I can’t keep track of everything those guys drink!)
At Cascade Locks, Thunder Island Brewing Company SandwichC. had a delicious ‘Ginger Peach Cider’ to accompany her ‘Charcuterie Plate’.
At Cascade Locks, Thunder Island Brewing Company Charcuterie PlateThere are a lot more sights and waterfalls along the way but by this time there was a massive traffic jam at the Multnomah Falls and finding parking was impossible. So we headed back to Portland to spend the warm evening in some of their fine eating establishments.

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3 responses to “Oregon’s Historic Highway 30: Waterfalls and Nature

    • Oregon has so many beautiful drives and they’ve been advertising them heavily in Vancouver, enough so that almost everyone I know has been down to Portland at least once. I’ve been in Oregon several times and it seems like you never run out of breath-taking places…

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