The historic Columbia River Gorge Highway has been called the King of the Roads. Construction on the Pacific Northwest’s “first modern road” and the “nation’s first scenic highway” started in 1913. The beauty spots were located first and the road engineered to connect them.
The iconic view of the Columbia River Gorge that includes the Vista House at Crown Point (above) is taken from the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint (The Portland Women’s Forum purchased the property in 1946 and gifted it to the State of Oregon in 1963.) It is the original site of the 1912 Chanticleer Inn, where Portlanders arriving by train or steamboat to Rooster Rock (now a State Park) would hike up to a promontory 700′ above the river to enjoy a $1.50 chicken dinner and a gorgeous view!
“We will cash in year after year on our crop of scenic beauty without depleting it in any way.” Sam Hill
The greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America are found in the Columbia River Gorge where there are 70 named waterfalls on the Oregon side alone.
With 4 million annual visitors, Portland’s most visited natural site is Multnomah Falls, the 2nd tallest 2-tiered, year-around U.S. waterfall. Or is it?
No, we’ve been lied to! No matter how much one monkeys around with the numbers (2-tiered, year-around, contiguous states, etc.) Multnomah Falls is not the 2nd tallest U.S. waterfall, although it is the tallest in Oregon.
I grew up in Parkrose, an east county Portland suburb, with the Columbia River Gorge practically in my backyard. I remember picnicking and swimming at Lake Benson, visiting Multnomah Falls, Bonneville Dam and the fish hatchery many times.
Once I started driving, I started sharing the beauties of the historic Columbia River Gorge Highway with my teenage friends. The beginnings of a tour guiding career!
“The people of Oregon Country have constructed perhaps the greatest highway in the most magnificent setting in the world.” New York Daily newspaper
Returning home after traveling around the world…I’d have to agree!