Exploring waterfalls and scenic viewpoints along historic Columbia River highway, Oregon
As much as I love the sunny and pleasant weather of California, I am surprised to admit that I actually miss the snow! While stranded in snowy Virginia for three long months, three years back - with nothing much to do, I never imagined I will actually look forward to such an adventure, ever again.
At least our transition across the coast to the comfortable west strengthened this thought every passing day, making me realize that California does deserve the weather tax! But then, life is not always what you think, and here I am writing about an amazing icy and snowy adventure with big smile and sparkling eyes.
As dear husband and I planned our Christmas vacation in Oregon, I was secretly hoping for snow. While hubby was looking forward to ticking some new spots from the travel list; I also wanted to do so, but amidst the setup of novel climatic conditions. And that is when an amazing White Christmas greeted us at Portland. Snow, chilly weather, cold winds and ice welcomed us to an interesting experience as we admired the beauty of nature at its best.
While snow and ice could have hampered with our travel plans, we were fortunate to be able to visit all our desired spots within schedule. Loaded and layered with clothes, heavy jackets, gloves, caps, socks and winter boots, covering every possible inch of space, we set on an amazing day-trip in the wilds.
Though the entire course of our four-day vacation in Portland was memorable and happening (that includes savoring the ‘social media-made famous’ Voodoo donuts and relishing the local Stumpton coffee); this day-trip to the scenic viewpoints and waterfalls, few miles away from the city actually stole the thunder.
The experience of admiring the mist from a height, watching the snow-capped mountains, playing with shaved ice, and being awe-struck by frozen falls truly walked away with the final prize.
Two mighty waterfalls and two vista points form the body of this article, as I walk down the memory lane from my desk. Writing about snow, while watching the sun outside the window is truly a contrasting experience as nature reminds me about its powerful influence. One moment I was freezing in its charm and 670 miles later I am soaking in its warmth!
The mighty Multnomah Falls
If you look at the Google images of these falls, the first noticeable thing is its mighty flow from a close enough accessible spot on a foot bridge. While all these images reflect the looks on a clear day with white sparkling waters and lush green covers; it was totally different, yet exceptionally pretty along the winters too. As soon as we booked our vacation for Portland, we were tempted to enjoy these famous falls, just an hour and half from the city.
Though the commute was a straight ride on freeway followed by a little drive along the mountains - difficult and unpredictable weather conditions twisted the path in their own way. After repeated calls to judge the highway accessibility, constant monitoring of the news and prayers that the ice on roads would melt away just in time, we were finally able to make it along the last day of our vacation. Drizzling rains, melting ice, and traces of snow along the borders marked our commute to the falls. The road appeared as an abandoned stage- a day after the Mother Nature presented a spectacular show for its audience.
The Multnomah Falls on the Columbia Gorge River flow at an elevated height of 600 feet. A short hike of less than a mile from the parking lot took us to the base of these mighty falls. Though the temperature was freezing with cloudy skies, several visitors arrived to appreciate its beauty. Flowing water of the falls coupled with cover of white snow all around added a unique twist to its look. As I admired its strength from a distance, it prompted me to think about nature and its wonders. With its power to create, influence, control and present, nature truly succeeds in its job.
I struggled to capture pictures without the hand gloves because removing them even for a minute seemed nothing less than a giant herculean task. The opportunity of enjoying these falls amidst cold conditions added their unique charm, prompting me to stay a little longer. Though the foot bridge was closed for safety reasons, we were still able to gauge the attractive reason that draws several visitors all year round. An informative and resourceful visitor center, cute gift shop, café with perfect hot coffee and cakes along with a restaurant form the host squad, greeting tourists with their smiles and welcoming them for a memorable experience.
While cold winds and freezing temperatures bother me along any usual day, it did not seem to matter at all as I admired these wonderful falls. Anything to appreciate the nature and be lost in its charm, while forgetting the little world and its little problems. Nothing seemed significant as I engaged myself in a little chat with the powerful mighty falls!
Crown house vista point
After the memorable rendezvous with the Multnomah Falls, we drove further west towards the next most beautiful spot. Along the mountains of historic Columbia Gorge highway lies the famous Crown house at an elevated height of 733 feet. It poses as a scenic viewpoint, offering wonderful sights of the area. Spectacular view of the Columbia Gorge River, snowcapped mountains of Oregon, and amazing mist all around pulled me into a completely different world, too hard to describe. At such a beautiful spot away from the city, everything seems totally wonderful. Though the freezing temperatures and slippery ice cover on the surface made it difficult to walk, it did not stop us from clicking pictures to capture some significant memories.
I never imagined I could actually admire the gray skies without any sunlight, as the cloudy setup with cold weather painted a wonderful picture. What would otherwise seem gloomy or boring transformed into a unique experience as nature adopts different shades for its unique style.
Before I start with the praises and flow of words, I must admit my resistance to visit them. After venturing in the freezing temperatures for the Multnomah Falls and vista point, I was convinced we saw it all and could head back to the city for all the comforts of the heater! As the prime tourist spots were covered, it was acceptable to conclude the trip and bid goodbye to the mountains and rivers. But that is not what my adventurous travel partner (read: husband) had in mind as he longed to add some more memories to our travel album.
His rather strong convincing powers worked their charm once again, as we headed to explore these unexplored falls. And though I hate to admit it (that is what any wife does!), he was totally right in his decision. The novel experience was truly worth it. A short walk along the mountains took us to the base of yet another mighty falls.
Amazing view, peaceful ambiance, snow cover, blocks of ice and frozen trees marked this spot, pouring some unique charm into our system. Unexplored, yet wonderful - these falls resembled like precious gems, hidden in the treasure-chest of nature. As I bent my neck backwards to admire its source, it was truly beyond imagination. Such spots and experiences actually turn off the mind and vocabulary, as one is awe-stuck by the entire picture. No amount of words can rightly describe the charm of chatting with nature.
Adding to the list of our day trip along the Columbia highway, the Chanticleer point was another good spot. Offering a scenic view of the valley, river and mountains, this overlook was marked with mist and clouds all around. Though it was freezing cold with slippery surface, we were happy to pose against a beautiful background for a memorable holiday picture (read: the modern day profile picture).
All along the historic Columbia gorge highway, we enjoyed the scenic beauty and mighty falls. There were several other falls- either giant ones hidden within the valley or little frozen ones along the way. As we returned back home to warmer climates and comfortable clothing, I was happy to browse through the icy pictures. Though the process of clicking was difficult, the end product was totally worth it. Freezing finger tips, shaking hands and legs, and frozen nose brought some pain, but not without creating a beautiful outcome. It filled our travel diaries with many more colorful stories.
Every time I return from a trip, the experience does turn into me a story-teller, more than the thrill of being at the spot, it is the after-effect that counts!