Totaling 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s tallest* waterfall and the state’s most visited outdoor destination with over 2.5 million visitors annually, more than many national parks and nearly five times that of Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park.
Receiving average rainfall upwards of 100 inches every year, Multnomah Creek on the western end of the Columbia River Gorge collects a heavy dose of nearly year-round water runoff from the slopes of Larch Mountain. On its journey to discharge into the Columbia River, the creek makes two significant drops (Weisendanger and Ecola Falls) before plummeting into a giant basalt amphitheater at Multnomah Falls. The falls are actually two-tiered: Upper Multnomah Falls measures 542 feet, Lower Falls measures 69 feet, and there is a 9 foot elevation drop in between.
Whether visiting the falls via the classic Historic Columbia Gorge Highway or I-84, you’ll first encounter Multnomah Falls Lodge. Built in 1925, the Cascadian-style stone lodge includes a summer concession stand, visitor center, restrooms, a lounge and bar, and a restaurant. After land was donated by the Union Pacific Railroad (then the Washington Railroad and Navigation Company) and funded by the City of Portland, the structure was designed by Portland architect Albert E. Doyle, who is well known for numerous other buildings in the region, including some of the original structures of Reed College.
Just beyond the lodge is the main viewing terrace for the falls, where both tiers and Benson Bridge come into full view. Originally a precarious wooden structure, the foot bridge was upgraded to be a masonry structure in 1914 and named after Simon Benson, the Portland lumber tycoon who donated much of the land surrounding the falls and was one of the foremost developers of the Columbia River Gorge.
From the Benson Bridge you can continue roughly 600 feet up an arduous switchback trail to an impressive viewing platform at the top of the falls. From there, visitors can hike up Multnomah Creek for 0.4 miles to view Dutchman, Weisendanger and Ecola Falls, continue an additional 5.4 miles to Larch Mountain's Sheppard Point lookout, or venture east toward Wahkeena and Fairy Falls.