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Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is one of the great natural wonders of the United States, steep volcanic rocks rise above the mighty Columbia River as it rushes toward the sea, waterfalls tumble down amid ferns and lush green forests. Indigenous people have lived along this great inland waterway for over 10,000 years. Seeing the gorge, kids will appreciate the skill of Lewis & Clark, riding the white water rapids on their expedition to the coast.
Tip: Columbia River Gorge is a fun day trip from Portland.
|Waterfalls – Columbia River Gorge is full of lots of different waterfalls. Here’s a couple of our favorites:
|Multnomah Falls – A gushing double cascade that plunges 620 ft down, fed by underground springs plus spring runoff, so it flows year round.
|It’s a short little hike to get to the falls, and a well-placed bridge between the upper and lower cascade makes it easy to view the waterfalls. In October, look for migrating coho salmon in Multnomah Creek.
Latourell Falls – Latourell Falls flows over the cliffs, straight down, like spray from a giant fire hose. The trail winds around the back side of the falls, where kids can gaze up at the overhanging cliffs, basalt columns squished together in endless profusion, and bright green lichen growing on the upper rocks.
|It’s less than a quarter of a mile from the parking lot to the falls, and there’s a picnic area just slightly beyond the falls, up the trail.
|Rooster Rock State Park – Rooster Rock is the perfect spot to stop in summer.
|Three miles of sandy beaches and swimming, a playground, picnic tables and covered picnic shelters (in case of bad weather).
|Bonneville Dam – At the Bonneville Dam, the turbine machinery that generates electricity is awesome. Pick up a tour to see how the dam works from the visitor center on Bradford Island. Also, ride the elevator down to the “fish viewing windows” to watch fish swimming in the Columbia River. From April to September, you’re likely to see salmon and steelhead swimming by.
|Marine Park (Cascade Locks) -
|River cruise on a paddle wheeler – Step back in time, when paddle wheel steamboats chugged up and down the Columbia River, transporting passengers and cargo. Take a two hour river cruise on an authentic sternwheeler, Columbia Gorge. Pick up the boat at Marine Park, cruises are May to October. Click here for the schedule.
|Marine Park also includes a picnic area, playground, chubby old-fashioned steam engine (Oregon Pony), and footbridge over to Thunder Island.
|Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum (Stevenson, WA) –
Learn about the traditions and life of the Cascade Chinook people that lived in the area, (shields, baskets, stone tools), the arrival of fur traders (models of trading posts) and explorers, including Lewis & Clark who visited the Clahclehlah village, plus exhibits about the geology and natural history of the gorge. Outside is a locomotive of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway.