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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

From Vista House to Bridal Veil Falls...and Just a Glimpse of Multnomah Falls

We lucked out with the weather in Oregon, it was quickly warming up early in the morning and we didn't really have to worry about ice on the roads or bridges.

I found a fun little website devoted to the Historic Columbia River highway which includes links to maps and even a collection of historic postcards and other ephemera.  The bridges were built from 1913-1921 and while some of them are looking a bit sketchy these day the one at Latourell Falls was a beauty.

If you want to read in detail how the foot paths became the Oregon Trail, railroads came to the area,  how this road began as a wagon road, and how the popularity of the bicycle helped prompt road improvement and eventually the bridges go to this link.

More history can be found at Vista House which was built as a rest stop observatory for travelers (according to the guy on desk duty specifically women, a fact he felt obliged to repeat often) on the old Columbia River Gorge Highway and as a memorial honoring Oregon’s pioneers who made their way down the Columbia River.   It is celebrating its 100th birthday this year so if you can you may end up catching a special event such as birthday cake served by costumed volunteers on May 5th. 

The architectiure is German Art Nouveau, but the windows reminded me a lot of the Prairie Style that Frank Lloyd Wright is so known for.  All those Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles were around at the same time so I'm sure they all influenced each other.

Downstairs you'll find exhibits devoted to the history of the highway and Vista House, as well as restrooms and a gift shop that serves beverages.  I got the hot apple cider and Linda got the peppermint mocha which were good choices as it was snowing and windy on the point when we returned to her car.

Hey, there's the Gorge behind us!

I also got a new hat, just in case everyone is tired of that red rosette on my hat in all my winter photos.  I took a few pictures of the Gorge, but due to the weather they were so ugly I didn't want to give a negative impression and scare everyone away.  Let's stick to the close-ups and leave the Gorge views to Linda when she starts featuring it again later this spring!

Next up on our tour was Bridal Veil Falls.  Located at milepost 28 on the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway it is just a short half mile from the parking area to the viewing platform where you can enjoy the 120 foot falls.

Like me, Linda is appreciative off all that green during winter.  She's originally from South Dakota so she gets it when I grump about the snow and severe cold of the upper Midwest!  We took our time on the mile roundtrip walk just digging the crazy amount of mosses on display with all the leaves off the trees.

The nearby U.S. post office is kept busy with engaged couples dropping off their wedding invitations so that they can be postmarked at Bridal Veil.  And kayakers even go down the falls along Bridal Veil Creek when the water is high.

Along our journey I learned the story of the devastating fire to hit the Gorge last year.  The fire was set by a 15 year old using fireworks last September in very dry conditions.  Here's a link to that story. Linda is one the many heartbroken by the loss, but luckily the fire is a "mosaic" and not all the forest is lost.

If you're coming to Oregon to hike Linda recommends the books by William Sullivan, I know I'll pick one up before my next trip.

View of fire scarring on cliff to left of Multnomah Falls from the parking area

Multnomah Falls is normally a huge attraction with more than 2 million visitors stopping by each year to take in the views, but isn't currently open to the public due to the concerns resulting from the fire including falling trees, landslides, rockfall, and debris flow, which can be triggered by heavy rainfall or freeze/thaw cycles.

Fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain, the flow over the falls varies, but is usually highest during winter and spring.  For some amazing photos of the falls from a year ago check out Linda's blog here.

And here is the link to her Fall 2016 hike which she hopes she will be able to do this coming year after the necessary repairs are made to the trail.  Let's hope this beautiful area re-opens quickly!


  1. Beautiful photos Pam, love all that moss on the bridge.

  2. We had just hiked the whole loop at Multnomah Falls two weeks before the fire. So glad they saved the lodge, but that beautiful hike won't be the same.

  3. Some stunning photos of the falls and the moss in the first photos but tell me how did you get her of the sky slopes, wonder she did not drag you up one

  4. Great pictures, we loved that area last summer:)