Willamette Falls

Willamette Falls, Oregon City: Address, Phone Number, Willamette Falls Reviews: 4/5

Willamette Falls

Top ways to experience Willamette Falls and nearby attractions

Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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186 reviews
Very good

Portland, OR119 contributions
Feb 2015 • Family
I live near the Willamette Falls so it is a natural wonder that I often take for granted. The waterfall is located on the Willamette River in Oregon City. There is a viewing area in Oregon City and another viewing area across the river just past the 10th Street Exit in West Linn (heading I-205 N).

Willamette Falls is the largest waterfall in the American Pacific Northwest by volume and ranks in the top 20 widest waterfalls in the world.

The water power of the river and falls were used for all sorts of things over the years and as a result the area currently looks like an industrial area (which it used to be). You can research all of this in many places so I won't bother to go into it.

As of this writing the biggest "eyesore" is the former Blue Heron Paper Mill. The mill has been decommissioned and is currently being torn down. This will open up the land for development and currently there are plans to enhance the area for tourism. When this happens there will be all sorts of great photographic opportunities for the falls as you'll be able to take pictures that were previously unavailable.

Right now if you want to take great pictures my recommendation is to go to the Oregon City side of the falls. Find the Municipal elevator in Oregon City and either park at the bottom of the elevator or drive up the cliff and park in the parking lot near the top. From there you can either take the elevator to the top of the cliff or you can take the stairs. Once at the top you will see the McLoughlin Promenade.

The McLoughlin Promenade is a beautiful walkway that extends the length of the cliff top. There are a ton of photographic opportunities here as well. Trees, bushes, flowers, boulders, the cliff, and of course the falls. Take your time and take lots of pictures.

As you walk south down the promenade you'll eventually see a green walkway over top of the highway. That is another decent area to take photos from. From there you can either continue going down and walk down the sidewalk (downhill) all the way back to the bottom of the Municipal Elevator or you can turn around and walk back up the McLoughlin Promenade. If you have small children, etc it might be a good idea to turn around. Traffic on the highway is fast and the sidewalk is not very wide. You'll be able to make a judgment call simply by standing there and observing the traffic.

Another good place to take photos and view the falls is the Willamette Falls viewpoint in Oregon City. The West Linn side doesn't really offer much.
Written February 18, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Denver, CO131 contributions
May 2014 • Family
Enjoy views of Willamette Falls from 99E viewpoints in old Oregon City environs. The Falls is in the midst of an historical panorama of the old hydroelectric power structures. But in the river, seals or river otters (bystanders debated what they were seeing), cavort and dive for fish. The free Municipal Elevator is not to be missed and there is reportedly a ghost story of a small boy that appears to some. Elevator Street is reportedly the only vertical street as well as only outdoor elevator of this kind in the U.S., serving the needs of a split-level city. Below is a quaint town with building murals and fun walkability, while the upper level has the river promenade and many historic houses along with beautiful flowers and gardens along the walk.
Written May 13, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

seattle, wa205 contributions
Jun 2018 • Couples
Second largest falls in the US. Lots of vantage points to get a good look. Especially impressive at flood stage. The closed paper mill, blue heron on the Oregon city side is proper as a park- if it happens it will be a great place to get really close to this impressive feature.
Written June 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Matthew G
Portland, OR1 contribution
Jul 2021 • Couples
This is a very underutilized and under developed area of the Willamette. There’s an old mill right by the falls that’s a total eyesore and should’ve been torn down a long time ago. The city decided to kill the idea for a recreation and water access area there and you can’t see the falls from the viewpoint from the road. This spot could be much better utilized by the city with some proper planning.
Written July 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Phoenix, AZ158 contributions
Jul 2020
Very disappointing. There is no good place to see the falls without kayaking. There is no view of the falls from the highway scenic turnout across the river from the town in July when all the trees are leaved out - maybe you can see the falls from here in the winter. We walked along a promenade on top of the cliff, at the top of the municipal elevator, which was a nice walk on a flat surface, but the viewing the falls is still not great. When we were there only one panel of the dam was open so there was very little water flowing anyway. The river is lined with a power plant and old factory buildings - not a pretty river view. Not worth the drive from Portland to see these falls.
Written July 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

jazzie F
Canandaigua, NY420 contributions
Dec 2014 • Couples
By visiting, you can see the past and present, and imagine what the future might bring to the area.

What will strike you first is not the falls. It's the industrial feel of the site, from locks to paper mills (one closed and decrepit, the other decrepit), to run down power plant, to spillways, to debris boom, etc. It seems that the only thing not developed is the immediate fall areas. And everything is so run down!

This by itself should entice you to visit what is still an amazing horseshoe waterfall area and the second largest in the states by volume. To know that not long ago this was a pristine place for trading and fishing and to see what it once was ....it's interesting in a bizarre way to see how it is now. The docent at the historical society said there is interest in demolishing the closed paper mill but that there are many chemicals to be cleaned up first. So many that it's difficult to find funding to tackle such a large project. Too bad. On the other side, there's talk of demolishing some of the downstream buildings and opening it up for recreational access and development. Will the circle close? Will the areas's potential for housing, recreation, and community pizzaz be realized? You'll have to decide for yourselves.

So if you're in the area, stop by and admire these nice water falls and the history that surrounds them. For best viewing, go during high water so you can see and hear them. It might be fun to take a falls boat trip, see the salmon run, and watch people fishing, none of which took place when we visited in December. If you stop at the Route 99E viewpoint, behind you is the Oregon Historical Museum. We spent a couple of hours there, not bad. From there, you can take the promenade trail that starts at the VFW and walk to either the elevator or the steps down to Main Street. Steps are better so you can walk along the creek making it's way to the river.
Written December 26, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Portland, OR110 contributions
Willamette Falls is sort of like a miniature Niagara Falls. It is best seen in the late fall, winter, and spring when the water level is high. In summer, the water flow can be very low. There is a historical marker here if you like reading about Oregon history. The natural beauty of the falls is, unfortunately, marred by the giant industrial mill that is alongside the river. Still, the falls can be an interesting wayside stop.
Written January 27, 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

18 contributions
Jun 2019
The falls are beautiful, but Oregon official spit on tourists, because there is no place to look on them. Second biggest in North America falls are not a tourist attraction at all, there is no infrastructure, no excursions, no nothing. Best seen from kayak, but there is no rental service.
Written January 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Oregon City, OR97 contributions
Dec 2014 • Couples
This wonderful waterfall is partially obscured by the industrial installations all around it. It is a great part of Oregon history dating back to the Oregon Trail days. It is a spot for the annual eel harvest that is a community event in Oregon City. It looks like the local municipalities may make the falls more visible to the public. I hope so.
Written January 9, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Oregon City27 contributions
Mar 2014 • Friends
Nothing in the way of interaction, exploration, or interpretation ... all you can do is pull over and observe. The old Blue Heron Paper Mill and the locks have changed the historical appearance of these falls and to some might be quite unattractive. Nevertheless, the Oregon Falls (not cascading, like those in the Gorge, but more like Niagara Falls, if smaller) played a significant role in Oregon history and are in and of themselves pretty spectacular to see. Don't miss them!
Written April 15, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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