Generally speaking, we have a tendency to pass through the eastern side of our state as quickly as possible on our way to somewhere else. Of course, we do travel along the foothills on the east side of the mountains and you have seen our photos of Leavenworth and Winthrop. However, for us to really spend any dedicated time on the far east side is rare, and even after living in the Northwest for more than forty years there are still many places we have never visited. We decided to change that a little bit by taking a short four day road trip around the region.
Our first day we drove down to Vancouver which is located along the north side of the Columbia River near Portland, OR. We spent a pleasant afternoon exploring The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, home of the Northwest operations of the Hudson Bay Trading Company from 1824-1869. We wandered through the interior of the fort as well as taking a walk along what is known as Officer's Row outside the fort area. It was fun learning about the history of the fort and Hudson Bay. I was even presented with a small souvenir made by the on- site blacksmith.
Day 2 found us touring the Columbia River Scenic Highway where we spent a delightful morning stopping to see the numerous waterfalls and overlooks along the drive. Our first stop was at Vista House which overlooks the Columbia River. The Rotunda was closed that day but it didn't stop us from enjoying the panoramic views of the gorge.
Once past Vista House, there are five waterfalls along the drive that are close enough to the road for us to easily walk up to. We stopped to see four of them, Latourell, Wahkeena,Multnomah and Horsetail Falls. The water flow this time of year is lower than it would be in Spring. However, they were still very pretty, and we could see early signs of autumn along the trails.
The Latourell Falls has a 224 ft drop from the cliff, and the stone walls are covered in a golden green lichen which is very striking in person. Because of my physical limitations we stayed at the base of the falls. However, for those who are more adventurous, there is a 2.4 mile loop that takes you up 620 feet to the upper falls.
Wahkeena Falls is 242 feet tall and cascades down the side of the hill rather than falling directly from the cliff. The view was partially obscured by all the trees, but the sound of the water flowing down the hill was lovely, and there is a trail that can take you farther up and closer if you choose to hike it. Wahkeena is the Yakima Native American word for "most beautiful".
Just around the corner we found ourselves at lovely Multnomah Falls, the most visited site in the entire Northwest. Millions of people visit every year and even on this quiet post summer day it was pretty crowded. There were hundreds of people milling around the restaurant and gift shop area. You even needed a reservation to limit the number of people by the falls at one time. Multnomah is a double fall that cascades down 611 feet. It is truly a magnificent sight. There is a trail that can take you up to a bridge that overlooks the the upper falls. Lovely as it was though, it was way too crowded to be able to truly enjoy it's natural scenic aspects as much as we would have liked.
Our fourth and last stop was called Horsetail Falls. I liked that we could actually walk down to the pool at the base of the falls. It cascades down about 176 feet. However, there is a hiking trail that takes you up behind it to another waterfall called Ponytail. This was one of our favorite spots and much quieter than Multnomah.
I could have spent all day sitting at the base of this waterfall but it was time to move on. We continued on to see the Bonneville Power Dam and Locks. As it turned out the locks were closed, but we were able to have a late picnic beside the dam. We toured the visitor center, watched a film on the history of the Dam and visited the fish ladder.
Bonneville was built during the Great Depression and is still considered one of the largest hydroelectric systems in the world. It supplies about 80% of the power in our region.
Once again there was so much to see, but the day was advancing and we still had several hours of travel ahead to make it to our lodging so we had to move on. If we return to this area again we will need to allow more time to truly see everything. Meanwhile, this is where I will leave you for now and will share more of our adventures next time. If you have ever visited this area of the northwest I would love to hear of your adventures as well. Blessings to each one who stops by here.