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It’s personal at Columbia River Gorge

By Janis Miglavs, courtesy Travel Portland

Weather is always an unknown when traveling. The first time I drove the Columbia River Highway through the Columbia River Gorge was on a beautiful summer day, when my wife and I got sweeping views of the gorge from Vista House and had a delicious lunch of locally grown products at the Multnomah Falls Lodge at the base of Multnomah Falls.

We ate in the atrium-style Falls Room with its floor-to-ceiling windows that have great views of the falls. One of the tallest in the United States, the falls drop 620 feet down the steep cliffs of the gorge in two stages. We later walked to the Simon Benson Bridge, which spans the lower cascade, one of the best ways to get an up-close look at the falls.

However, the last time we visited the gorge, it was a rainy, cold November day. The road to Vista House on Crown Point was covered with yellow leaves, and rain and mist obscured the fantastic view.

The only thing that saved what was up until then a very disappointing day was the Multnomah Falls Lodge, the stone-and-timber Cascadian-style building that dates from 1925. We stopped in midmorning and had the lodge’s delicious homemade cinnamon rolls with Oregon hazelnuts (locally called filberts) and a cup of hot “Hood River coffee” in front of a cozy fire in the Great Room’s large stone fireplace.

It took the chill off the weather and the experience, and left as vivid a memory as that bright summer day when we first stood at the base of the falls.