A Journey Along Oregon's Historic Columbia River Highway - Go Wandering

A Journey Along Oregon's Historic Columbia River Highway

By Shannon Alfes |
A Journey Along Oregon's Historic Columbia River Highway
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The Historic Columbia River Highway, also known as “The King of Roads,” is a 70-mile route that immerses you in the most spectacular scenery in the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia River Gorge is a significant region in Oregon with numerous waterfalls, mountain vistas, and mesmerizing canyons, and embarking on this road trip allows travelers to experience the deep history and endless beauty it possesses. While the drive can certainly be done in a single day, we suggest stretching it out to 2 or 3 to really make the most out of it without feeling rushed. Plus, when you arrive at some of the points of interest mentioned in our road trip guide below, you’ll end up wishing you allotted more time to take it all in! It’s time to load up the car, get your camera ready, and make the most of the unforgettable adventure that is driving the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Your Columbia River Scenic Highway Guide


You’ll start your voyage in the town of Troutdale, Oregon, which is the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge. This charming town offers a glimpse into Oregon's past with its historic buildings, art galleries, and quaint shops. A place you don’t want to miss here include Depot Rail Museum for some great insight on the route through the gorge. From here, you’ll follow the Sandy River upstream until you reach the iconic Crown Point Vista House.

Crown Point Vista House

The Crown Point Vista House is a National Natural Landmark that was built in 1918 in honor of the Oregon pioneers and your first official stop along the highway. Perched on a cliff 733 feet above the Columbia River, this historic observatory offers unbelievable views of the gorge and the surrounding Cascade Mountains. Take a moment (or many) to soak in the beauty from this viewpoint and snap some photos to keep the memory alive forever.

Multnomah Falls

No trip down the Columbia River Highway is complete without a stop at Multnomah Falls, the crown jewel of Oregon's waterfalls and the tallest in the state. Cascading 620 feet in two jaw-dropping tiers, this natural wonder that’s surrounded by lush greenery is truly a sight to behold. You can also get moving with by embarking on one of the many hikes around this area while getting different vantage points of these magnificent falls.

While at the falls, be sure to also check out the Multnomah Falls Lodge. This historic building houses an incredible restaurant that is enhanced even more by the phenomenal views of the surrounding landscape. The lodge also has a gift shop, so you can stock up on souvenirs to remember this world-class destination and adventure!

Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

As you continue your journey along the highway, take a detour onto the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail to experience the gorge in a new way by stretching your legs and even having a scenic picnic. This 12-mile trail follows the route of the original highway, which provides a peaceful way to explore the gorge on foot or by bike. Keep an eye out for the historic markers along the trail, which provide insight into the highway's rich history and significance.

Mosier and the Rowena Crest Viewpoint

Mosier is a small town along the highway that serves as a perfect and charming pit stop. The town awards visitors with picturesque views, a laid-back atmosphere, and many local shops and eateries to fuel up at. Be sure to take a stroll through Mosier Plateau, which is a 3-mile trail that offers more fantastic views of the gorge. A short drive away from Mosier is the Rowena Crest Viewpoint, which you definitely can’t miss if you’re traveling here during the spring. This viewpoint is especially remarkable this time of year because the hills burst into vibrant color with wildflowers that seem to go on for miles and miles.

The Dalles

Ending your road trip along the Historic Columbia River Highway in The Dalles is the perfect summation of history, culture, and natural beauty. A longtime Native American gathering place, you can explore the historic downtown area and visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center to learn about the region's rich history and ecology. There are also nearby trails that offer further hiking and biking opportunities with amazing views. After your time exploring the highway and its many points of interest, unwind with a meal at one of the many local dining options in The Dalles. What better way is there to end such a memorable journey.

A Gorge Getaway

As you can tell, a road trip along the Historic Columbia River Highway is one that is simply packed with out-of-this-world views while being a prime way to dive into the long history of Oregon. From the mesmerizing waterfalls, rolling fields of wildflowers, and charming towns along the way, there’s something new to discover during every mile of this highway. The Historic Columbia River Highway has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to have an outdoor adventure, an immersion into the Pacific Northwest’s history, or a special getaway with your loved ones. All that’s left to do is fuel up the car, grab your best exploring shoes and camera, and have this handy guide ready as you and prepare to be amazed by the wonders that await you along this magnificent route.

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