Only a 30-minute drive from Portland, Oregon, Multnomah Falls allows visitors to experience the power of nature up close.
The base of this 611-foot-tall double cascade is only a five-minute walk from a parking area immediately off of I-84. Unlike a lot of the other famous waterfalls in the western United States, Multnomah is fed by an underground spring, snow melt, and rainwater, allowing it to flow year-round. (Many others in the area dry up in the summer.)
Originating on Larch Mountain, Multnomah Falls is the second highest-year-round waterfall in the United States and the fourth highest waterfall in the country overall.
According to Native American legend, these falls were created to win the heart and hand of a young princess who needed a secret place to bathe.
All visitors should be sure to check out the viewing area, which is located in a carved-out opening in the face of the rock. From there, you can see both tiers of the falls and get a sense of their gasp-inducing height. More adventurous tourists can climb the paved trail to Benson Bridge (seen in some of the photographs), which spans the width of the falls. The bridge is named for Simon Benson, a businessman who owned the falls and gave them over to the City of Portland before his death. They are now owned by the USDA Forest Service.
Multnomah Falls Lodge, built in 1925, is home to a restaurant, gift shop, and information center complete with trail maps for those interested in hiking around the area. The trail to the top of Multnomah Falls is approximately 1.2 miles, but hikers looking for a longer trail can continue on for six miles to the top of Larch Mountain.
Know Before You Go
From Portland: Take I-84 eastbound for approximately 30 miles until you reach exit 31 on the left-hand side. Park at the exit and follow the path under the highway to reach the viewing area. Visitors can also get off I-84 at exit 28 and drive along the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway to pass other falls as they approach Multnomah Falls.
- Wikipedia: Multnomah Falls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multnomah_Falls
- Oregon Interactive Association: "Multnomah Falls is a Must:" http://www.oregon.com/attractions/multnomah_falls
- U.S. Forest Service: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/recreation/waterfalls.shtml
- Travel Oregon: Multnomah Falls: http://www.traveloregon.com/Explore%20Oregon/Mt%20Hood%20Columbia%20River%20Gorge/Attractions/Outdoors%20and%20Nature/Multnomah%20Falls.aspx