Kyle Kotajarvi


The Gorge

Usually on weekends I do my best to get as far away from the crowds as possible, but today, I ventured into the craziness that is the Columbia River Gorge on a beautiful, spring Saturday. 

I've only visited the Gorge once before - in late December of 2014 on a very rushed trip down Historic Columbia River Highway.  I didn't get to see much except for Multnomah Falls, but I'd wanted to come back since then! I just remember seeing all the waterfalls alongside the highway and wanting to constantly get out and take pictures, but the group I was with was on a pretty strict timeline and we were quite limited to what we could do. 

Anyways, my friends and I left Seattle at about 9:00am and headed down I5 towards Portland.  It was honestly a beautiful drive down! Since it was such a clear day we were able to see Rainier, Baker and St. Helens all towering along the eastern side of the interstate.

We crossed over the Gorge past Vancouver and headed immediately up Historic Columbia River Highway towards Vista House and Latourell Falls.  Seriously, how beautiful is this place? While the crazy amount of people at the falls made photo-taking a bit more difficult then it should have been, I honestly couldn't have been more happy. 

Following our little jaunt to Latourell Falls, we proceeded east along the highway towards Multnomah Falls.  I really wanted to stop at Multnomah again, but after experiencing the insane traffic and seeing the resulting parking nightmare, I wanted no part of it, so we moved along. 

After accidentally getting on the interstate, we backtracked a bit, and parked at the trail head to Elowah Falls.  I had never heard of Elowah Falls before, but the idea of a short hike sounded great after being in the car all day.

The trail to the falls was only 3/4 of a mile each way, and it was 110% worth it.  Elowah was beautiful, and being that it was a bit of hike, it was a lot less busy than everywhere else we had seen along the Historic Highway.

Look at that flow:

So yeah, Elowah Falls was totally worth it. A+. Would visit again.

After the falls, we proceeded to Rowena Crest, which is a hella-trendy vista located near The Dalles.  It's trendy for a reason.  Because it's gorgeous.  Seriously, don't blow this place off just because everyone has a photo of it.  The 360 degree views are spectacular.

Alrighty.  Well after our experience at Rowena Crest, we had one more stop on the agenda for the day: Panther Creek Falls on the Washington side of the Gorge.  I knew that Panther Creek was going to be the toughest place to find today, but I didn't realize how insanely frustrating it would be to be so close to a place, but still have a difficult time finding it.

We crossed the Gorge at Bridge of the Gods, and then headed about 15 miles north east into Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.  After following the Forest Roads a ways, we found ourselves completely and utterly lost.  I knew we were close to the falls, as I could heard them, but I had no idea where they actually were.  After driving in circles for a bit, I finally saw a small gravel path along the side of the road and what do you know, you could actually see the falls from the road. Ugh.  Worth it, but probably not worth driving to the falls if it weren't for everywhere else we visited today.

Kyle KotajarviComment