Shepperds Dell Falls, Oregon

Columbia River Gorge waterfalls: getting off the highway

Along the I-84 corridor in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland a host of waterfalls beckon travelers to ease out of the interstate’s river of traffic to witness a scenic spectacle of falling waters. Very little effort is needed to enjoy this magnificent series of cataracts. In fact, the most famous of these falls, Multnomah Falls, has its own exit and parking area right on the interstate, which makes it “the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest,” according to the U.S. Forest Service. You can pull out of traffic, stroll over and view the falls, use the restrooms and get an ice cream, then jump right back onto the highway to speed off toward wherever your destination may be.

Multnomah Falls footbridge
Multnomah Falls footbridge [Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2007]
Sadly, the falls are not destinations in themselves. The relentless traffic of the interstate highway has made these delightful hydrogeological wonders into sideshow distractions for bored travelers speeding to other destinations, west to the hip urban attractions of Portland or east through the Columbia gorge to the wild hinterlands of the rural northwest. But whether one pauses momentarily to snap a quick photo of the falls, or takes the time to hike up to the less accessible but more satisfying views (although many of the trails are now closed due to damage from last year’s Eagle Creek fire), or even strips down to enter the cold waters for an afternoon swim, they never disappoint. Their graceful liquid arcs paint our lives with reminders of realities beyond the maniacal drive to get somewhere.

Horsetail Falls
Horsetail Falls [Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2007]



Ponytail Falls
Ponytail Falls [Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2007]

An afternoon swim beneath the waterfall
An afternoon swim beneath the waterfall [Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2007]
[Daily post 020 of 260 in my year-long challenge.] ♨

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