Columbia River Gorge Travel GuideBrowse 9 travel reviews, travel blogs and 117 travel photos from real travelers to Columbia River Gorge.
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Columbia River Gorge Overview
The Columbia River Gorge is large canyon containing the Columbia River as it crosses the Cascade Mountain Range as the river flows west to the Pacific Ocean. The gorge is roughly 80 miles long, extending just east of The Dalles and forms the boundary between Washington and Oregon. The main gorge we see today was carved out of the volcanic rock during the last ice age, when an ice dam broke, releasing a deluge of floodwaters from Glacial Lake Missoula. The gorge is also unique in that the climate changes from near tropical in the west (75-100" precipitation/year) to near desert in the east (10" precipitation/year).
The Oregon side of the gorge contains several waterfalls, state parks and hiking trails, including the famous Multnomah Falls. The Bonneville Lock and Dam in Cascade Locks has a nice visitor center with viewpoints to watch the salmon and other fish swim upstream around the dam using the fish ladder. Also nearby is the Bridge of Gods. Another popular viewpoint is the Vista House, overlooking the gorge from high atop the cliff. The views all along the river are spectacular.
Interstate 84 (I-84) runs along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, however most of the waterfalls, hiking trails, and scenic stops can only be accessed from historic US highway 30. There are no waterfalls on the Washington side, but highway 14 has wonderful views of the Oregon Cascades and Mount Hood.