Oregon – Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge to Mt Hood

Hey Guys!

My hubby and I recently took our first trip to the incredible state of Oregon!!

We left on July 1st and returned on July 11th.

I had actually posted a 10 Day Itinerary for Oregon back in January of this year so it was nice that the research and planning had already been done way before our trip!

That post took me countless hours to put together but it paid off in the end because we had a flawless trip!

We flew out very early on Sat, July 1st and arrived in Portland, OR around 11 am.

We had used our Southwest points to pay for both of our round trip tickets.

I don’t know about you, but I love to fly for free!! 😉

A picture from the plane.

As we were about to land in Portland, we got to see the incredible Mt Hood!

After arriving to the airport, we picked up our rental car at Alamo and hit the road!

The cost for the car was approx. $800.

Tip: I booked our car rental through Travelocity...I booked and rebooked multiple times on different sites to get the cheapest price. I actually booked our final car rental just 4 days prior to our trip.

Our first stop of the day was the historic Columbia River Gorge.

The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon, 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep, that meanders past cliffs, spires, and ridges set against nearby peaks of the PNW’s Cascade Mountain Range.

There are 90 waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge.

Read reviews here & click here for a great map and description of the waterfalls

Our first stop on the drive was the historic Crown Point Vista House.

The vista house is located approx. 30 mins from the airport.

The vista house was built in 1916 as a rest stop observatory for travelers on the old Columbia River Gorge Highway and as a fitting memorial honoring Oregon’s pioneers—particularly those who made their way down the Columbia River.

This area is very crowded and has very limited parking!

If you can’t find a parking space right away, just be patient as a space usually opens up fairly quickly.

Read reviews here

The views from the house are breathtaking!

Washington is located on the other side of the Columbia River.

After admiring the house & the views from the outside, we walked inside the house to check it out.

The inside of the vista house is beautiful!

Located inside the house is a small museum, gift shop & cafe.

After spending about 45 mins here, we purchased a coffee from the cafe and headed to our next stop along the Columbia River Highway.

Tip: In 2022, you were required to have a timed permit to drive this “waterfall corridor“. The sites include Wahkeena Falls recreation area, Oneonta Trailhead, Horsetail Falls recreation area, and access to Multnomah Falls. However, that wasn’t the case for 2023 but you were required to have a permit to park at Multnomah Falls between May 26 – Sept. 4th.

Our next stop was, Latourell Falls.

The falls is located approx. 7 mins from the vista house.

The walk to the falls takes about 5 mins…however, the trail is a 2.1 miles loop trail that continues past the lower falls to the upper falls.

This waterfall is definitely worth a stop!

It plunges 249 ft to the rocks below!

From here, we headed to our next stop, the very popular Multnomah Falls!

As I mentioned earlier, you are required to have a timed permit in order to use the parking lots for this falls.

Since I wasn’t sure what time we would arrive, I purchased two timed permits and made a lunch reservation at the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge.

The reservation at the lodge was supposed to allow us to park at the lodges’s parking lot however, once we arrived to the lodge, the place was a madhouse! There were people and cars everywhere and the parking is very limited!!

So, needless to say, our timed permits did us no good because there was nowhere to park!

The permits do not guarantee a parking place and neither does your reservation at the restaurant!

Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest with more than 2 million visitors stopping by each year to take in the views and I think all 2 million were there when we visited!!

Read reviews for the restaurant here & click here to see their menu

Tip: The lodge is now just a visitor’s center, gift shop and a restaurant…they offer no accommodations.

Since there was nowhere to park, we kept driving passed the lodge until we could find a place to turn around….we had to figure out to make it to our lunch reservations.

As we were driving, we passed the roadside falls called, Horsetail Falls.

The Horsetail Falls trail is actually a 2.6 mi loop trail that has 3 waterfalls along the trail.

After driving for a few minutes, we got turned back around and headed back to the lodge.

There was a guy on the side of the road that was directing traffic, so we asked him what we needed to do and he told us we had to drive 3 miles back down the road to the Multnomah Falls Shuttle and have them shuttle us back to the restaurant!

Once we made it to the shuttle parking lot, we were told it would cost $15 pp to shuttle us back to the lodge! We were not happy campers but we paid it because we didn’t want to miss our lunch reservation!!

Purchase your tickets for the shuttle here & read reviews here

After finally making it back to the restaurant, we were seated right away.

The lodge is so beautiful! It was built in 1925 and, at one time, had dormitories and four rooms for overnight stays but the lodging is now a distant memory.

We chose to sit outside so we could have views of Multnomah Falls while we ate lunch.

After looking over the menu, my husband and I both decided to order burgers and fries.

The food was very good!

After lunch, we headed to view the falls.

This place is definitely popular!!

It was actually very difficult to get a good picture of the falls without someone getting in the picture because it was so crowded!

Note: Please be very careful hiking the trails around the falls…they are very dangerous! As we were having lunch, we noticed a drone flying above us…drones are prohibited in this area. Later we found out, they were looking for a guy that had fallen from one of the trails…sadly, he didn’t make it.

Spanning two tiers on basalt cliffs, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon…it drops 620 ft!

The falls drops in two major steps..the upper falls drops 542 ft and the lower falls drops 69 ft for a total of 620 ft!

The nearby Multnomah Creek Bridge, that crosses below the falls, was built in 1914 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After taking 568 pics of the falls, we headed to the gift shop.

We then took the shuttle back to our vehicle.

As we were arriving to the parking lot, the bus driver told us that there was a short path at the end of the parking lot that led to a waterfall…so, we decided to check it out.

The walk to the falls took about 5 mins and it was definitely worth it!

This falls is called Bridal Veil Falls….the falls has a two tier drop of a 120 ft and is beautiful!

Read here about other parking areas to access this trail and here to read about the historic Bridal Veils Falls Lodge that was built in 1926.

After spending a few minutes at the falls, we headed back to our car to continue the drive along the Columbia River Highway.

Our next stop was Wahkeena Falls.

The 242-foot falls is a tiered type of waterfall, named after the Yakama word for “most beautiful”.

The hike to the falls is only 0.2 miles but is rather steep!

There are other trails that can be accessed from this trail….read more here.

As you reach the falls, you will not only see it, but you will feel it! The spray that comes from the falls was rather refreshing as it was very hot!

After leaving here, we pulled over to walk through a cool looking tunnel in the rocks.

This is the location of the Oneonta Gorge.

Sadly, the trail to the Lower Oneonta Gorge falls has been closed since the fires in 2017. However, I think you can still hike to the upper falls.

After leaving here, we pulled over to get another quick shot of Horsetail Falls before heading to our hotel.

I really wished we had been able to spend more time chasing waterfalls but our time was limited our first day.

Our hotel was approx 1 hr 15 mins from Horsetail Falls.

We had gorgeous views of Mt Hood as we were driving to our hotel!

Mt Hood is 11,245 ft tall and is Oregon’s tallest mountain. It’s peak is home to 12 named glaciers and snowfields. It offers the only year-round lift-served skiing in North America.

I hadn’t told my hubby that we were actually going to be staying at the base of the mountain at the historic Timberline Lodge!

The drive up to the lodge

After arriving to the hotel and getting checked in, we headed to the Cascade Dining Room for dinner. I had made reservations at the restaurant prior to leaving for our trip.

Once we were seated, we looked over the menu and yikes, was it expensive!

We decided to order the mussels as an appetizer and they were so good!

Then they brought out the most delicious rolls!

After the bread, our server brought us some kind of sorbet to “clean our pallet” before our main dish….ummm, ok….whatever, it was soooo good!

Next was our main dishes…I ordered the Chicken Riesling and my hubby ordered the daily pasta special.

There were no sides that came with anything…everything was a la carte so, I literally just got a chicken breast and it was $47!

However, the food and the service was impeccable! As it should have been for those prices!

After dinner, we walked around the lodge.

It was built in 1937 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

The lodge draws more than 2 million visitors a year and is one of Oregon’s most popular tourist attractions.

It was built in 15 mons and on Sept. 28, 1937, President Franklin D Roosevelt dedicated the lodge, proclaiming that Timberline was a “monument to the skill and faithful performance of workers.”

If you have ever watched the movie, The Shining, you will recognize the lodge as it was used in the opening scenes for the movie.

Read all about the history of lodge here

Shots of the outside of the lodge

We walked some of the nearby trails near the lodge.

There was still some snow on the ground so my hubby had to make a snowman.

Views of Mt Hood from the hotel

While we were outside, the sun started to set and the sky was beautiful!

After watching the sunset, we headed to our room.

The rooms are not very big but we had plenty of space to move around.

As a surprise for my hubby, I had chocolate covered strawberries delivered to the room…they were delish!

The view from our bedroom window

A short time later, we called it a night…we were exhausted!

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for Day 2!

Update: Read Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 here, Day 8 here, Day 9 here & Day 10 here

Click here for a link to all of my blog posts over the last 5 years!

Read my 10 Day Oregon Itinerary for more ideas and things to do!






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