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Historic Columbia River Highway

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Historic Columbia River Highway
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Quick Facts
Designation: All-American Road
Designation: Oregon State Scenic Byway
Fees: Some attractions may charge fees.
Length, One-Way: 70 Miles (116.67 Kilometers)
Time: 3-5 hours minimum (many travelers take a few days

General Information

Description - The Historic Columbia River Highway is exquisite. This byway is choice because you get to drive through the Columbia River Gorge for nearly 50 miles. You also get to sweep past majestic waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls, the most visited natural site in Oregon. This byway travels through a spectacular river canyon. Sometimes you get to view it from the tops of cliffs over 900 feet above the river. During the spring, there are magnificent wildflower displays, including many plants that only exist in this area.

This is the first scenic highway in the U.S. to gain the distinction of National Historic Landmark. Just to give you an idea of what this means, less than 3 percent of the sites on the National Register of Historic Places become Landmarks. The construction of this Highway was considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the modern age. Its engineer, Samuel C. Lancaster, did "not [want] to mar what God had put there." It was designed in 1913 to take advantage of the many waterfalls and other "beauty spots."

Make sure you travel both the well-known western section of the byway from Troutdale to Dodson, as well as the less-traveled eastern section from Mosier to The Dalles. The difference in vegetation zones and views between the two sections is amazing.

Attractions - The Historic Columbia River Highway is known for it's historical, natural, recreational and scenic attractions. Among these attractions are Bridal Veil Falls, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge and the Hood River County Museum. The Pacific Crest Trail is also accessible from this highway.

Recreation - Recreation opportunities include; hiking, biking, rafting, scenic driving, picnicking, and visiting historic sites.

Climate - Climate in central and eastern Oregon varies greatly depending on elevation. The high elevations receive much more precipitation and colder temperatures. These regions are much more arid and see greater temperature extremes than western Oregon. Much of the precipitation comes from October to April, mostly in the form of snow in the higher elevations. Winter temperatures can drop well below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Snow remains in the high mountains into early summer. Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days, with warm to hot temperatures at the low elevations and moderate temperatures at the higher elevations. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon.

Location - The Columbia River Highway is located in northern Oregon along the border of Oregon and Washington and the Columbia River.

Directions from : In order to travel the byway itself, follow the keystone signs from Troutdale to Dodson and from Mosier to The Dalles. To get to the byway from Portland, follow Interstate 84 east to the Sandy River in Troutdale. Take exit 18 and travel south along the Sandy River to the Sandy River Bridge. Follow the keystone-shaped signs through Springdale, Corbett, and the waterfall area to the junction with Interstate 84. Continue east on Interstate 84 to Mosier (exit 69). Follow the keystone signs through Mosier to Rowena Crest, and then to Chenoweth Creek, located just west of The Dalles.

-- Please note that while the HCRH is Oregon Highway 100, there are no signs indicating this status. Also, the eastern part of the byway is U.S. 30, but the western part is not.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Tiffany W. (Tacoma, WA)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: No road-tripper should die without first experiencing this area! I have been 4 or 5 times and there are still many waterfalls to see, hikes to climb and I see and find new things every time. And the things that don't change are as thrilling the fifth time as they were the first time. Highly recommended is Wahkeena Falls to feel the mist cooling your face. Everyone goes to see Multnomah Falls (which you should not exclude)but my personal favorite was visting it after the sun has just gone down. It's even more magical at night! I've stayed overnight at Bridal Veil Falls Lodge (a wonderful b&b with friendly hosts)and also camped in the van on a different trip at Memaloose Park Rest Area (on the westbound side) and awoke to the most gorgeous view of the Columbia River Gorge ever! It was amazing! We went from Portland all the way to Hermiston and loved every minute of it!

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Scenic Driving Historic Columbia River Highway
ICON Viewing Scenery Historic Columbia River Highway

More Information

Additional Information:
Oregon Scenic Byways - Oregon offers a multitude of national, state, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and National Forest byways. These byways include five National Scenic Byways and three All-American Roads.
Oregon's Historic Sites -

Scenic Byways Homepage - National Scenic Byways official web site with detailed info on all national and state byways.


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