The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) deep, the canyon stretches for over 80 miles (130 km) as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south. Extending roughly from the confluence of the Columbia with the Deschutes River down to eastern reaches of the Portland metropolitan area, the gorge furnishes the only navigable route through the Cascades and the only water connection between the Columbia River Plateau and the Pacific Ocean.
By volume, the Columbia River is the fourth largest in the US and begins its 1,243 mile journey in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. The portion of the river that forms the Columbia River Gorge runs to the east of Portland. When you take the drive through the gorge there are lots of opportunities to stop for a hike and/or to view one of the waterfalls that are abundant on the Oregon side of the gorge.
On the day we took the drive (pics) it was a little cloudy but pleasant. We stopped at several of the waterfalls along they way some of which were viewable from the highway, others required a little bit of a hike. We stopped at Latourell Falls (lower & upper), Bridal Veil Falls, Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls.
We also stopped at Bonneville Dam, one of the many hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. One of the interesting aspects of the dam are the fish ladders. This structure provides a natural way for fish to continue their journey upstream, bypassing the dam structure. They provide viewing windows that allow you to see the fish as they make their way against the water flow.
Our final stop was in the town of Hood River, Oregon. As it happens this town is home to Full Sail Brewery, one of Oregon’s early microbreweries and one of the first commercially successful craft breweries to bottle beer in the Pacific Northwest for retail sale. We took the opportunity to have a meal and to sample their taster tray.