The Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls

gorgeThe Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia river. The Gorge is as deep as 4,000 feet, and stretches for nearly 80 miles. The river winds its way westward through the Cascade mountain range.

The Gorge holds federally protected status as a national scenic area called the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

For thousands of years, the Gorge has provided a transportation corridor for thousands of people. In 1805, the Gorge was used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition to reach the Pacific Ocean at their final destination in Seaside, OR.

There are several places along the 80-mile corridor of the Gorge that are worth visiting. The first destination is Crown Point, which is just 15 miles east of Portland.

Crown Point
Vista House lookout at Crown Point.

Crown Point is one of the scenic lookouts along the Columbia River highway, which provides a panoramic view of the Columba River Gorge. It stands a staggering 735 feet above the river and was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1971.

The Vista House is also located at the top of Crown Point. It’s an observatory and also serves as a memorial for Oregon pioneers.

multnomah-12Just east of Crown Point, resides the tallest waterfall in the State of Oregon. Multnomah Falls is a tremendous sight to behold. The waterfall stands at 627-feet tall, but has two distinct drops of 542-feet and 69-feet.

Thousands of tourists come to Multnomah Falls on an annual basis, and have the ability to hike, photograph and enjoy the nature surrounding the falls.

A paved foot trail leads to the Benson Footbridge, a 45-foot-long bridge that allows visitors to cross 105-feet above the lower cascade of Multnomah Falls. The trail continues for roughly a mile up the many switchbacks to a platform at the top of the upper falls. At the top of the upper falls, you can catch a great view of the Gorge.

The Columbia River Gorge is another part of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. Make sure you put the Gorge on your list of places to visit when you’re in the Pacific Northwest!

 

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The Oregon Coast

oregon-coastThe State of Oregon has coastline that runs 363 miles (584 km), from the Columbia river in the north, to the California State border in the south.

The Oregon coast is not a specific geological, environmental, or political entity, but instead includes the entire coast line of Oregon, including the Columbia River Estuary.

The Oregon coast is regarded as three distinct sub-regions. Oregonians consider these three regions to be:

  1. The north coast, which stretches from the Columbia river to the Cascade head.
  2. The central coast, which stretches from the Cascade head to Reedsport.
  3. The south coast, which stretches from Reedsport to the California border.

The largest city on the Oregon coast is Coos Bay, which has a population of 16,000. The most prominent historical site is that of Fort Clatsop outside of Atoria, which was the site of the Lewis and Clark expeditions winter stay on the Oregon coast in 1805-1806.

oregon-coast-2If you love parks, you’re in for a treat! Did you know? There are over 80 state parks and recreation areas along the entire Oregon coast.  The Oregon coast is the location of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which consists of six wildlife refuges, covering 371 acres of 320 total miles.

oregon-coast-3While you’re traveling along the coast, make sure you look out for the local marine life.  There are several species of marine mammals which live along the coast. Those include harbor seals, the Steller’s sea lion, Northern Elephant seal, and California seal.

Do you love whales? Travel to the Oregon coast in late-December and late-March to watch the whale migrations. The species of whale include Orcas, Humpback and Grays.

The Oregon coastal waters are known to have 16 species of shark, which include the Tiger and Great White shark.  A total of 25 people have been bitten by sharks on the Oregon coast since 1900, and all have survived. The most recent incident came in October, 2016.

The Oregon coast is the states’ top tourist destination. Make sure you plan your visit when you’re visiting Oregon!

The Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds

painted-hills-3The Painted Hills are one of three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument located in Wheeler County, Oregon.  The Painted Hills are one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

It totals 3,132 acres and is located just nine miles northwest of Mitchell, Oregon.  If you planning on visiting the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, I suggest staying overnight at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell. You can find rooms as low as $39. painted-hills

If you are heading from the east towards Mitchell, I suggest stopping in Dayville for gasoline, or you’ll potentially be staring at E on your gas gauge before reaching Prineville on your drive west.

The Painted Hills unit offers an abundance of fossils that still remain including early horses, camels, and rhinoceroses.  The best time to visit the Painted Hills unit is in late May.  Come in the evening around 7 p.m. after a thunderstorm. The rain brings out the best colors in the hills.

If you’re looking for a great place to visit without breaking the bank, you’re in luck! The Painted Hills unit is free to the public.

Unfortunately, there are no great places to hike at the Painted Hills unit.  There are some short walkways that allow you to get a better view of the Painted Hills. The longest pathway you can take is roughly a 0.5-mile walk.

painted-hills-2To preserve the land, the National Park Service has put signs along areas that are off limits to tourists. Cross country travel leaves footprints that can last for years destroying the land which gives us the beautiful colors and patterns.

If you are traveling through Central Oregon, make sure you stop at the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Contact: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

32651 Oregon 19 (Sheep Rock Unit), Kimberley, 541-987-2333.

http://www.nps.gov/joda

 

Crater Lake National Park

crater-lakeCrater Lake National Park was founded on May 22, 1902. With a depth of 1,943 feet (592 meters) it is the deepest lake in the United States, and ninth deepest in the world.

Mount Mazama erupted in approximately 5,677 BC, reducing it’s size by about one mile, with its collapsed caldera creating Crater Lake in the process. The caldera created by the eruption at Mount Mazama was 42 times greater than that of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Human interaction with Mount Mazama dates back nearly 7,000 years!

If you’re an avid fisherman, you can find Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout in Crater Lake. There are no fishing permits required to fish in Crater Lake National Park. All waters are restricted to the use of artificial lures and flies only. Private boats or flotation devices are not allowed on Crater Lake. crater-lake-2

The current fee to enter Crater Lake National Park is $15. This pass is good for seven days. The park plans on raising the fee to $25 in 2018.  Although the park fee seems steep, the price of admission is minuscule compared to the scenic wonders and natural treasures you’ll witness on your journey.

While you’re exploring Crater Lake National Park, take a trip to Wizard Island, which is a secondary cone rising over 750 feet above the lake surface. You’ll be able to take in the full beauty of the surrounding lake and deep blue water. crater-lake-3

There is only one place where it is safe and legal to get down to the lake shore. It is the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which usually opens mid to late June. The trail is 1.1 miles long and drops nearly 700 feet down to the lake shore.

If you’re traveling from Portland to Crater Lake National Park, your trip will be roughly 4.5 hours. While on your drive, you’ll be able to see the scenic Umpqua and Winema National Forests. Crater Lake and Crater Lake National Park are one of the Seven Wonder’s of Oregon. Make sure you get out and explore this magnificent destination while on your travels throughout the Pacific Northwest.