The Columbia River Gorge

Our last day at Portland …

we had a pre-booked tour of The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The bookings were done online from India itself. As usual, it was via VIATOR…they have never disappointed us…The local agency assigned to us was Hub World Travels..Portland.

The tour was scheduled for the afternoon and so we took a late breakfast at the hotel and took the Tri Met train to town. One of the most beautiful sights in Portland is The Willamette River...As we traveled to town on the train, we crossed the Willamette….

The Willamette River

The Willamette is a tributary of the Columbia River and we can see how the lives of the people in Portland are so intimately connected with the Columbia River

Alighting at Lloyds centre station, we took a quick round of the Lloyds centre.….the high end shopping mall. Once we were inside, we were in for a very pleasant surprise…an ice rink in the centre court of the mall and a couple skating gracefully to the strains of music.….Mesmerized by their graceful moves, we stood and watched in awe….Unfortunately could not film it for you…privacy issues are sacrosanct in these countries…

After a quick round of the mall, we waited for our tour company to pick us up and soon we were on the tour bus. As we left the city ,the beauty of Portland unfolded itself in front of us…

Before we actually reached the destination , our guide gave us a brief about the place. Let me share it with you….

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area is located 40 km from Downtown Portland, and is a naturalist’s delight!Extending more than 100 miles, the Columbia River carves this canyon on the Cascade ranges. In the process it creates innumerable waterfalls.

The Gorge itself is up to 4000 ft deep at places and forms the border between the states of Washington and Oregon.It is an ideal place for outdoor adventures like hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing and windsurfing .Over 90 waterfalls  dot this area; notable among them being Latourell, Multnomah, Wahkeena, Bridal Veil and horsetail.Some of these freeze in winter.Further east , is the Hood River which is also a popular destination with recreation facilities.Breweries and wineries are an added attraction.

In 2017, a lot of destruction took place in this gorge area due to a forest fire triggered by a teenager.As we drove along, we could see the aftermath of wild fires at several places .

The road skirts the Columbia River as it turns and twists between the mountains and it provides loads of beautiful view points. Our first halt was at Latourell Falls. The peculiarity of this waterfall is the straight fall from the height unlike various waterfalls where the water trickles along the edges of the slope…

The Latourell Falls

After spending some time at the falls we drove down to Crown point Vista House. Located on a 730 feet cliff, it offers a panoramic view of the Gorge, and has an observatory and museum.

The Vista House and the Columbia River with adjoining hills in fall colours

A short video clip of the Columbia River and Gorge as seen from Vista House

From Vista house, our next destination was:

Multnomah Falls

Located on the Columbia River Highway and fed by rain and melting snow, it is a year round attraction and partially freezes in winter

The peculiarity of Multnomah Falls is that it is a two tierd waterfall..two levels with a wooden observation bridge( Benson Bridge) in between. One can take a short hike up to this bridge.

The two tiers of the waterfall with the Benson Bridge spanning the lower falls

The lower falls as seen from the wooden bridge

On the Wooden bridge with the upper falls in the backdrop

There is a small picnic area close to the falls with a coffee house and a trinket shop. We sat around sipping some hot coffee enjoying the sound of the falls.

After that, we returned to Lloyd centre station and took the train back to our hotel marking the end of our Portland holiday…

See you next week at….Las Vegas!!!

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Day 1

Our next destination was Portland…the city of Roses

With rosy dreams of Portland, we boarded the Southwest Airlines flight from Midway Chicago to Portland.

The flight was comfortable and rewarded us with some great views .

The captain drew our attention to Mount Rainier and Mount Hood …the snow capped mountains in the distance and it was really an awesome sight. Unfortunately it was too far for a picture….

As we flew closer to Portland we had amazing views of The Columbia River winding along like a snake.

The Columbia River

The ariel view of the trees in fall colours was another treat as we reached Portland….it was indeed a riot of colours.

The airport at Portland was also very attractive and well done up. The decor and interiors just hit you as you arrive there….far from the dull drab environment seen at most airports. Subsequently I was given to understand that it has been voted one of the best airports in US under several categories over many years.

At Portland Airport

We took a cab to our hotel …..Ramada by Wyndham. Nice cosy place. Walking distance to the light rail station and with good eateries and a Target store close by. After checking in, we explored the locality and located the light rail station for our trips the next day.

October is fall time and Portland was a riot of colours….

Beauty of fall in Portland

Day 2

Walked up to Southeast Main station and took the Tri Met train to town. We hopped off at Washington Park Station to explore the recreational facilities there. Washington Park Station itself is unique.

Washington Park Station

It is entirely underground and part of the Robertson tunnel.It is the deepest transit station in North America.The Robertson tunnel consists of two single track tunnels, one in each direction.Really unique concept of geological exhibits created from drilling samples during excavations runs along the platform walls.The east side tunnel walls are yellow symbolizing sunrise and the westward ones are orange symbolizing sunset

Two elevators take you to ground level where you have the Oregon Zoo, The Hoyt Arboretum, The World Forestry centre, Vietnam Veterans Memorial etc..The parking lot at this level is beautifully landscaped and in autumn, it is simply majestic!!

A free shuttle starts from the elevator landing area every hour and takes tourists to various spots in the area including the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese garden.

The conceptualisation and implementation of this underground system and ensuring connectivity to all places of interest is simply amazing!!

The Robertson tunnel and the exhibits of excavated rocks exhibited on the station walls

The beautifully done up shuttle pickup area and parking at Washington Park

We took the free shuttle from just outside the station. This shuttle runs every hour and takes you around all the tourist spots nearby. We decided to visit the International Rose Test Garden.

The International Rose Test Garden exemplifies Portland’s nickname City Of Roses

It is home to more than 600 varieties of roses blooming from April through October…peaking in June.

New varieties are continuously tested here for various parameters like fragrance, disease resistance and colour. We saw rare varieties of roses.

The garden and some of the roses

After we finished the rose garden, we took the shuttle back to Washington park.

We visited the Oregon Zoo

We had a lot of school children for company as they were having a picnic in the zoo. We really enjoyed the excitement created by the children on seeing the animals.

Outside the Zoo

After finishing with the zoo, we took the Tri met train back to the hotel.

Next day was The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area tour….meet you there in my next blog…bye for now…

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