Ski, hike, windsurf and wander Mt. Hood and its fertile foothills. This diverse region is one of the largest fruit producers in Oregon, making for an abundant fall harvest. In one afternoon, travel from Oregon’s highest peak to the majestic Columbia River Gorge.
- Follow the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway around the base of Oregon’s highest peak (11,235 ft / 3,424 m), and traverse timbered slopes, temperate rain forests, semi-arid uplands, and mountain meadows. The route descends through the farm land and orchards of the Hood River Valley to the magnificent, Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, where visitors can see 11 waterfalls in an 11-mile (18-km) section. Completing the loop back to Portland is an easy day’s drive.
Popular Spots for Fall Foliage:
- Lewis and Clark State Park – Troutdale, OR, 97060 / (800) 551-6949
The park is named for the pair who first explored this region of the United States. It is truly a must-see and a convenient place to relax after enjoying the historic downtown and antique shops of Troutdale.
- Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint – State Hwy 30, Troutdale, OR, 97060
Showcasing several vistas, it was the view of the Columbia River and the Columbia River Gorge seen from here that inspired engineer Samuel Lancaster and the entrepreneur Samuel Hill to start construction and funding of the highway. The men intended to construct a road that would align the region’s most beautiful spots and make them easily accessible to drivers.
- Crown Point – Near Corbett at exit 22
The next major viewpoint is Crown Point. Lancaster, as the highway’s engineer, wanted to make it possible for cars to descend 600 feet from Crown Point. His well-thought-out highway designs consisted of figure-eight loops that wind down toward the river while not altering the landscape.
- Vista House – at Crown Point, exit 22
A memorial to Oregon’s pioneers the house is an obvious stop, as it is one of the most recognizable sites along the highway. This memorial includes an observatory and provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the Columbia River. Visitors can also glimpse the mountains of Washington State across the river.
- Also photo-worthy are the waterfalls seen along the route, for which the area is so famous. While Multnomah Falls is a runaway favorite, Latourell Falls, Shepherd’s Dell, Wahkeena Falls, Oneonta Gorge and Horsetail Falls are also well worth a look.
- Bonneville Dam – River Mile 146.1
The first dam built on the Columbia River; it was constructed in 1938 to produce hydropower for the region, as well as to protect its fish and wildlife. Today it is a National Historic Landmark. Tourists can visit the fish hatchery downstream and the dam itself to view fish, in particular the native salmon.
- The Dalles
The Dalles once marked the end of the Oregon Trail. It is the largest city on the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The town’s 19th-century churches and houses still stand.