TRAVEL THERE: VISTA HOUSE & THE FALLS ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE
Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today’s focus is Vista House and the incredible waterfalls you’ll find along the Columbia River Gorge.
Last week I introduced you to Sam Hill and his vision of a roadway along the Columbia River Gorge. He didn’t just imagine a road, he imagined an adventure with scenic stops for refreshment all along the way. Vista House at Crown Point certainly fulfills that vision.
Americans love their cars, their cameras and their road trips. As soon as Sam Hill’s road opened up folks started driving to Crown Point and taking pictures of the gorgeous scenery. Things haven’t changed much in the last century, folks are still stopping by Crown Point in droves.
Vista House is an iconic sight along the Columbia River Highway, but most of the attraction is outside. You can go in, but the interior is pretty much your usual government building decor. There are nice ranger type folks on the main floor to give you information and answer your question, but outside looks a lot better than inside. Downstairs is a gift shop, a little cafe and an interesting but not compelling display of information. Upstairs lets you out on the balcony and that gets a little more interesting. In fact, that’s where Bill took this photo of all the bikers visiting Vista House.
The view is spectacular at Vista House, but one of the reason all these
people show up is just a little further down the road. From Vista House, instead of heading back out to the main road, you take a perilous trek down a stretch of road creeping down the side of the hill. There you enter Waterfall World.
The road below Vista House would be one you wanted to take, even if there weren’t any waterfalls. The narrow roadway was lined with trees and spatters of sunshine bounced off the car and windshield. I was reading from some pages I’d downloaded from the internet about the falls. All along the way are small parking lots for trail heads. I had my hiking boots in the car and threw lots of enthusiasm into my reading, but Bill was not buying into hiking. Finally, we arrived at Horseshoe Falls, which you could actually see from the road. Bill got out and started taking pictures, while I changed into my hiking boots.
You can’t see it from this picture, but Horseshoe Falls cascades down from a split high in a cliff and at one point divides, making a horseshoe. I was dying to climb the mile or so worth of switchbacks to the top. Bill wasn’t, but he was willing to wait, so I charged up the hill. At the top I posed and waved to someone who was taking pictures, but it wasn’t Bill. There is no proof I climbed to the top of Horseshoe Falls, but I did.
A little further down the road, we came to the famous Multnomah Falls. The falls are one of the top tourist attractions in the state, so there’s no question they are wonderful to behold, but they’ve been described so many times you don’t need me to do it again. I’ll let our pictures do the talking. Then you come back next week and we’ll go further down the road on the Columbia River Gorge Highway.