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The Columbia River Gorge runs almost from border to border and encompasses a large area of the only sea level river running through stunning cliffs made during the Ice Age. Missoula Lake (Montana) had a huge ice dam that formed at that time. When it broke through, the flood waters carved out the Columbia Basin and Gorge. this happened four times and each occurance forged a deeper gorge.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a 70 mile section of the Columbia River (along both sides, Washington and Oregon) which stretches on the Oregon side from Troutdale east to The Dalles. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of this beautiful area's preservation. There are many things to do and see here.
On November 6, 1986, President Ronald Regan signed into Legislation the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act. This was done to preserve and enhance the beauty of the Gorge and enhance the lives of the people living here.
To start your trip, you may want to take the Historic Highway 30 byway by leaving Troutdale and crossing the Stark Street Bridge. Head on up the hill and you will see many awe inspiring views and pull into the Multnomah Falls parking lot at the The Multnomah Falls Lodge and the Visitor Information Center. Staffed with volunteers from the Friends of Multnomah Falls and the USDA Ranger Service you can obtain brochures and get help as you plan your visit to this beautiful area.
You rejoin the freeway at Ainsworth State Park. This is the only part of the Historic Highway you can drive on at this time. Hiking Maps are available for the Gorge area at the Falls in the Visitor Information Center. The hiking is great here. There are 77 waterfalls in the area.
Among the many attractions are a sternwheeler ride, an antique steam train ride to O'Dell or Parkdale where you can almost reach out and touch Mount Hood; the Bonneville Dam; the Fruit Loop; and more. You can find wine and cheese along with a good selection of local produce in season.
Just past Hood River, you can take Highway 35 to reach the historic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. If you have never taken in a ski lodge in summer, this is the one to take in. Breathtaking, the entrance sits above the Sisters Mountains and has a beautiful sunset to see. It was featured in many scenes of the classic Stephen King Film, "The Shining."
This Depression Era lodge was built by the many skillful people on the rolls of the Works Progress Administration and was dedicated by Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 28, 1937.
Near John Day, toward the end of the Gorge, on the Washington side, you will find MaryHill Museum. Who could think there could be a museum in the desert along the Columbia with many beautiful artworks? Sam Hill built his Maryhill Museum to be a working self-contained farm. His wife, Mary, didn't like the rural setting and only set foot there only once before declaring it disgusting and returning to Portland, and eventually back east.
After touring England, he built replica of Stonehenge as a memorial to the soldiers from the State of Washington killed during WWI. There was a convention of astrologers in town who declared that it was almost a perfect alignment to the stars as is the original Stonehenge in England. There were 13 soldiers whose names were originally carved into the stones.