This was no usual end of summer in the Columbia River Gorge. Fire raged through Eagle Creek and expanded to the surrounding creek and river drainages, bringing an early close to the most crowded season in the scenic area. During a normal year, autumn is the time of year when the Columbia Gorge mellows out.
Water is the lifeblood of the Columbia River Gorge. Its namesake—the behemoth Columbia River—has meandered from the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean for thousands of years as its major tributaries carve deep grooves into the surrounding valleys and hillsides. By volume, it’s the fourth largest river in the United States and the largest river in North or South America that finds its terminus in the Pacific Ocean.
The Columbia River Gorge is famous for its impressive landscape and plethora of waterfalls. There are 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side alone! It may be drier due to its south-facing orientation, but the Washington side has some impressive waterfalls of its own.
Take some time to explore one of Travel Oregon's 7 Wonders with this waterfall loop through the Columbia River Gorge. These falls are in order if you start from Portland, cross over the bridge at Hood River and return to Portland via Highway 14.
For those of us living near the Columbia River Gorge, spending the last few days under smoky skies and a thin blanket of ash has added some personal misery to the emotional loss of knowing the Gorge will be a different place in the months and years to come. The human-caused Eagle Creek fire and the Indian Creek fire have been merged into over 30,000 acres of burned forest.
I've come full circle in over 30 years of hiking. When I tell people I go by myself, I get one of two reactions: If it's a woman, she’ll ask, “aren’t you afraid?” If it's a man he’ll say, “you shouldn't do that.” I don't think either response is out of the norm. As women, we worry all the time about our safety, and men think it's their job to provide it.
Short stretches of fair weather and warmer temperatures have made it clear that spring has arrived. Although it is only early April, change is already taking shape on the sun-kissed south-facing slopes of the Columbia River Gorge, particularly those on the eastern end.
That's right, wildflowers are starting to pop out! So, hikers, sightseers, visitors and photographers get ready, because now is the time to start planning your next outing.
The Columbia River Gorge was my childhood playground, and it continues to be a place I visit year round. It is where I first topped out on a trail and discovered a love of big vistas. It’s also where I was first stung by a bee.
Before the Columbia River Gorge was a National Scenic Area, it was just another beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest carved up by numerous competing interests. Small towns survived on the throughput of their local wood mills, tribes held claim to salmon fishing, and until the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s, the western end of Interstate 84 didn't exist.
One late-summer day in 2017, travesty befell the beloved Columbia River Gorge…in the form of a bottle rocket. By now, a year later, the abbreviated story is well known in all corners of the country: Several careless teens spent the afternoon of September 2 amusing themselves with drugstore fireworks during a burn ban and ended up scorching 48,831 acres of protected national scenic area.