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Multnomah Falls: Gateway To The Something Spectacular

Multnomah Falls: Gateway To The Something Spectacular

Multnomah Falls

Photo Compliments of Matt McGee

Multnomah Falls is unique and inspiring the way Half Dome and the Grand Canyon are; it also needs to be seen as the gateway to something truly spectacular. If you take 30 minutes to drive out from Portland, Oregon or drive 3 hours down from Seattle, Washington you need to take the time to explore and discover the Columbia River Gorge, you need to drive on both the Washington and Oregon sides because the geology and landscapes are amazingly different and each has its own unique story to tell.

Multnomah Falls Is the Gateway to Something Spectacular

The waterfall is as magnificent and memorable as any in the country and is located just 30 minutes by car outside of Portland, or 3 hours by car from Seattle. The falls is 611 foot tall; a roaring, awe-inspiring cascade of power and beauty. From the parking area off of I-84 it is an easy 5 to 10 minute walk.

Multnomah Falls is a spectacular waterfall on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet and a lower falls of 69 feet with a gradual 9 foot drop in elevation between the two, the total height of the waterfall is typically listed as 620 feet.

Multnomah Falls

Photo Compliments of Alex Green

Underground springs from Larch Mountain are the year round source of water for the waterfall, augmented by spring runoff from the mountain’s snowpack as well as rainwater. That means that if you want to see the waterfall at maximum flow the winter to spring time is the best time to visit.

A foot trail leads to Benson Footbridge (this is the bridge in the picture), a 45-foot long bridge that allows visitors to cross 105 feet above the lower cascade. The trail continues on after the bridge (this is open when weather permits) to a platform at the top of the upper falls where visitors get an amazing view of the Columbia Gorge and also of “Little Multnomah”, this is a small cascade slightly upstream which you will not see from ground level.

Multnomah Falls is reachable via a stretch of I-84 from both the east and west. The rest area and tunnel under the road makes this possible.

Interest Through All Four Seasons

Rainwater, an underground spring, and snow melt feed the falls through all four seasons and ensure a spectacular sight any day of the year.

Multnomah Falls Lodge

The Multnomah Falls Lodge which was built in 1925 serves visitors who came to view the Columbia Gorge. The historic structure (made of every type of rock found in the gorge) houses a gift shop, a restaurant with Northwest Cuisine, and a US Forest Service Information Center where you can find trail maps. During the summer months vendors offer ice cream, coffee, sodas and other quick snacks from booths and carts in front of the lodge.

Hours of Operation For the Lodge

Monday to Thursday (10 AM to 6 PM)

Friday (10 AM to 8 PM)

Saturday (8 AM to 8 PM)

Sunday (8 AM to 6 PM)

Gift Shop (9AM to 6 PM Daily)

For restaurant reservations and information call (503) 695-2376.

General Information

  • Pets are allowed at, but must be controlled and on a leash.
  • You are not required to have a Northwest Forest Pass.
  • Spray and mist causes a cooler micro-climate within the falls viewing area so be sure to bring a sweater in summer or coat in winter for added warmth.
  • Forest Service Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Website

Directions From Portland (30 Minute Drive)

From Portland take I-84 eastbound for approximately 30 miles. Follow signs and take exit 31 (an unusual left-side exit ramp) off I-84 to a parking area. Follow the path under the highway to reach the falls viewing area.

Directions From Seattle (3 Hour Drive)

MapQuest can be used to give precise travel instructions.

Photo Search

Flickr – Multnomah Falls Photos

Google – Multnomah Falls Photos

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8 Comments

  1. This looks like a beautiful place, Charlie, and a great place to be with a camera.

    I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!

  2. What a gorgeous waterfall! I have never heard of it before. Including the video is a great idea. Love the sound as well as the gorgeous images.

  3. Truly amazing!

  4. You’ve led me to add the multi-tiered Multnomah Falls to my mental list of places to visit in the Northwest. You’re fortunate to live relatively close to it. Three hours is about how long it takes for me to drive from Austin to Dallas or Austin to Houston, but neither of those places has significant waterfalls.
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  5. My favorite waterfall in the world…it is always relaxes me when I drive between Portland and my hometown of Pendleton. Well done!

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