Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge, an 80-mile geologic wonder that forms the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, is proof of Nature's unbridled strength. Glacial floods thousands of years ago carved this 1,200-mile-long river, which is the only sea-level passage to cross the Cascade Mountains. With cliffs rising as high as 4,000 feet, the Gorge acts as a funnel for North America's fourth largest river, whose tributaries include the mighty Snake River.

Columbia River Gorge and Crown PointFor more than 10,000 years, the Gorge has been a resource for sustenance and survival for human generations. It has also been a source of phenomenal beauty and enjoyment, providing a playground for just about every kind of recreation. The river's canyon-like walls create ideal wind conditions for windsurfing and sailing and the majestic beauty of the area lends itself to numerous return trips. The 620-foot cascading Multnomah Falls, off of I-84, is just one of about a dozen waterfalls that are accessible from the Columbia River Highway (I-84). Other activities include river cruises, nature hikes, and kayaking.

Photo by www.oregonscenics.com

Camping offers an ideal setting in which to appreciate the splendor of the Columbia River Gorge, but there are also numerous inns, heritage buildings and hotels that offer accommodations. Shopping is available in several of the small towns along the river, such as Hood River, White Salmon and The Dalles. Attractions include a number of museums, galleries and live performance theaters, as well as wineries, seasonal music festivals and performances.

Getting to the Gorge is easy: The Columbia River Highway/I-84 intersects with I-5 in Portland and follows the river's edge to Umatilla, at the east end of the Gorge. Highway 14, on the Washington side offers a scenic view but less access to appealing roadside attractions.

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