Before coming back to San Diego, my parents and I had a full day in Portland, Oregon to explore. My mom suggested Multnomah Falls, a 600 foot waterfall located in the Columbia River Gorge thirty minutes outside the city. We left Crater Lake around 8:30 and arrived back in Portland around noon. Unfortunately, as we got on the highway heading east towards the falls, a road notification sign was flashing saying the parking lot was full for the falls and that the falls exit was closed. It’s definitely recommended that you visit the falls on a weekday, and as early in the morning as possible. The parking lot isn’t very big, and if it’s full, you’ll have to park several exits before the falls and take a shuttle.
Once we got to the falls exit and it was closed as the sign had said, we kept driving to the next exit and got on the Historic Columbia River Highway, which runs parallel to 84. We were hoping to pass someone along the way who was leaving and get a parking spot. There are several other waterfalls on the Historic Highway, so that can be seen from the road, and hiking trails that lead into the Columbia River Gorge. I would love to go back and take a few of these trails in the future, but we didn’t have enough time before our flight back to San Diego that evening. About a mile before Multnomah Falls the traffic stopped, and my dad turned around to go back to the highway. I was so disappointed and thought we had missed our chance to see such a great waterfall. Luckily, the entrance to the Multnomah Falls parking lot was open coming from the opposite direction on 84 and we lucked out- someone was just backing out as we pulled in!
The lodge at the base of the falls has a gift shop, a visitors center, and a restaurant with a bar for all of your tourist needs. We grabbed lunch first at the bar- I had a Caprese sandwich that was to die for, and my dad said his Reuben was delicious. Afterwards it was time to enjoy the falls.
There are 3 main spots where you can view the falls: at the base of the falls, on a bridge about a quarter mile hike from the base, and at the top of the falls, which is a mile hike from the bottom. Since we were pressed for time, we were only able to see the falls from the base and the bridge, but it was beautiful! I can’t wait to bring Julio back one day and hike to the top. It was difficult to get a good photo because there were so many people jostling for a spot- I would get there early next time, as I suggested before, and preferably on a weekday. Mom and I stood just above the bridge for about a half hour, enjoy the view and watching a heron catch a fish in the pool at the base of the falls. She told me on her guided tour that a few years ago, a large piece of rock the size of a school bus broke off from the top and crashed down, sending a huge wave of water over a wedding party that was taking photographs there!! A picture of the wave is in the visitor’s center.
I loved Portland, and exploring the Columbia River Gorge area more thoroughly is on my list for sure! Julio and I both enjoy hiking and I’d love to see more of the other waterfalls in the area. Multnomah Falls is a must-see in Oregon!