Portland, OR Part I: Columbia River Gorge
When we left our site at Winchester Bay RV Resort near Reedsport, OR, it was 51 degrees at the marina at about 9:30 AM. By the time we had driven just a mile or two into town, it was 68 degrees. That gives you an idea of how much lower the temperature was right at the coast.
We had a little another four-hour drive that was again lengthened a bit by construction. It seems Oregon is getting more than its share of stimulus money because there are road projects going on everywhere. We finally made it to Barton Park, which is a Clackamas County park about 20 miles southeast of Portland, OR.
Barton Park has about 90 RV sites as well as a day-use area for picnicking. About 30 of the sites are paved with grass between and the rest are all grass. The sites have 50 amp electric and water hookups. The site width isn't too bad, but it's a little less than you expect to see in a state or county park. There were only a few people there when we arrived earlier in the week. They were only about half filled for the Fourth of July weekend, and we're not sure why. It's a nice enough campground, the price is reasonable ($16 a night), it's close to a major city, and there's plenty to do (hiking as well as rafting and tubing in the nearby Clackamas River). It's the emptiest campground we've ever seen on a holiday weekend, anywhere...but we weren't complaining. The photo below shows our site at Barton Park.
The nearby city of Portland is located along the Columbia River about 100 miles upstream where the river meets the Pacific. The Columbia River flows from British Columbia, Canada, down through eastern Washington State, and forms much of the boundary between Oregon and Washington.
The Columbia River Gorge is about 80 miles long and lies to the east of Portland. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area follows Oregon side of the gorge. Camping, fishing, windsurfing, and sightseeing are popular activities along the gorge.
Long ago, the river began slowly eroding the gorge through the mountains as the Cascade Range was being uplifted; but the most drastic changes took place at the end of the last Ice Age as flood waters from the rapidly-melting glaciers finished cutting the gorge through layers of volcanic rock.
We had heard and read about the beautiful scenery and the waterfalls along the gorge, so we went for a drive to take a look. The Historic Columbia River Highway winds along most of the Columbia River Gorge. The highway was built between 1913 and 1922 and was the first planned, scenic highway. Parts of the scenic highway are steep, winding, and narrow.
We started the drive at the western end of the scenic highway in Troutdale, OR. About 11 miles east of Troutdale is Vista House. Vista House was built in 1916-1918 at a basalt promontory known as Crown Point as a place where visitors could stop to rest and to observe the Columbia River in both directions. Today, Vista House serves as a museum, a gift shop, a coffee shop, and a rest stop. The photo below shows Vista House.
The next photo is looking west from Vista House toward Portland...
...and the photo below is looking east.
As we continued driving east from Vista House, we came to Bridal Veil Falls. It was about a 2/3 mile round-trip walk along a somewhat steep path to the falls overlook. Bridal Veil Falls, which is shown in the photo below, is about 140 feet high.
There are a series of waterfalls along the scenic highway, but the tallest and most popular is Multnomah Falls. There is a 543 foot plunge for the upper falls, an 8 foot cascade between the falls, and a 69 foot drop for the lower falls. At a total height of 620 feet, Multnomah Falls claims to be the second-highest, year-round waterfall in the United States. Like Burney Falls we saw in California, the water for Multnomah Falls comes from underground springs. The photo below shows Multnomah falls.
The trail crosses Benson Footbridge right at the crest of the lower falls. The next photo shows the view looking back down toward the gorge from the bridge.
After the trail crosses the bridge, it climbs all the way to the top of the falls if you have the stamina to follow it. We settled for going just beyond the bridge so we could get the next photo from the base of the upper falls.
The next photo shows Benson Bridge from the trail on the upper side.
When we got back to the car, we drove a little farther to the east where we found a nice, shady pull-off to have our lunch. After that, we turned around and headed back to the motor home. We took I-84 on our return trip. While the Historic Columbia River Highway follows a more winding path higher up the side of the gorge, I-84 travels closer to the river. We stopped at a pull-off and got the photo below of the Columbia River looking east. It is a little different view of the same stretch of river we got earlier from Vista House. Vista House is at the top of the promontory to the right of the photo below.
There's lots more to see around the Portland area. We look forward to sharing what we found.