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Oregon Columbia River Gorge

















Oregon Columbia River Gorge

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 (and the towns of Roosevelt, Washington, and Arlington, Oregon) in the east down to the eastern reaches of the Portland metropolitan area, the water gap furnishes the only navigable route through the Cascades and the only water connection between the Columbia River Plateau and the Pacific Ocean. It is thus the route of Washington State Route 14, Interstate 84, U.S. Route 30, and a railroad.


You’d be hard-pressed to find vistas as stunning as these. At the western end of the Gorge, the view from Crown Point is a front-row seat to the mighty Columbia as its unfurls and cuts through the Cascade mountains. From there dozens of awe-inspiring waterfalls spill from basalt cliffs, lining the Historic Columbia River Highway, like the famous Multnomah, Bridal Veil, Latourell and Horsetail falls. The landscape seems to grow bigger, grander and brighter as it rolls east.


The Columbia Gorge is also a place of history.  Its geologic origins date to massive flows of lava millions of years ago, carved much more recently by tremendous icy floods at the end of the latest glaciation.  Native Americans settled here at least 10,000 years before the first European explorers.  Lewis & Clark came down the Columbia Gorge, and the Oregon Trail pioneers followed soon after, pausing briefly before continuing their journey westward.  Sternwheelers and railroads, hydroelectric dams and aluminum plants became the engines of later industry.


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