Exploring the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon

Panoramic view of the Historic Columbia River Highway with the Vista House at Crown Point overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, showcasing lush greenery and stone arch bridges under a clear blue sky.

Nestled in the picturesque Pacific Northwest of the United States, the Historic Columbia River Highway offers a breathtaking glimpse into both the natural splendor and the architectural ambition of the early 20th century. This iconic roadway, often referred to as the “King of Roads,” presents an unforgettable journey through Oregon’s stunning landscapes and rich history. Here’s what makes the Historic Columbia River Highway a must-visit destination for travelers.

A Journey through History and Scenery

Completed in 1922, the Historic Columbia River Highway was America’s first planned scenic roadway. Visionary engineers and landscape architects like Samuel Lancaster and John A. Elliott designed the road to complement the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. Their work resulted in a 75-mile drive that combines breathtaking vistas, intricate masonry, and harmonious integration with the surrounding environment.

Architectural and Natural Highlights

The Highway is renowned for its engineering marvels, including several stone arch bridges, viaducts, and tunnels, all designed with an aesthetic that enhances the natural scenery. The most notable of these is the Vista House at Crown Point, a beautiful octagonal building with a panoramic view of the gorge. It serves not only as a rest stop and observatory but also as a memorial to Oregon pioneers.

As you travel the road, you’ll be treated to views of majestic waterfalls, including the famous Multnomah Falls, the tallest in Oregon and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. The falls drop a total of 620 feet in two major steps and are accessible via a short walk from the highway, making it a popular spot for both awe and photography.

Recreational Opportunities

Beyond its historical and aesthetic appeal, the Historic Columbia River Highway is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The surrounding Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area offers ample opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, and windsurfing. The highway itself has been partly restored and transformed into the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, where sections of the old road now cater exclusively to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, providing a serene and vehicle-free experience.

Cultural and Culinary Stops

The route also features several towns rich in culture and history, such as Hood River, known for its vibrant windsurfing scene and quaint local wineries. The area’s fertile lands produce a bounty that fuels a dynamic culinary scene, with farm-to-table restaurants and cozy bistros offering menus filled with local ingredients.

Planning Your Visit

Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or culinary enthusiast, the Historic Columbia River Highway offers something for everyone. The road is most accessible from late spring through early fall, as parts can close during winter due to snow and ice. Travelers can rent a car in nearby major cities such as Portland, making it easy to explore this magnificent road at your own pace. For those interested in a rental car service, consider options like “Прокат автомобилей спб” to find the best vehicle for your scenic drive along the Columbia River Highway.

In conclusion, the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon is not just a road; it’s an experience, rich with history, nature, and beauty. It invites travelers to slow down and enjoy a journey through time, amidst some of the most stunning landscapes the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Whether driving, biking, or hiking, this historic route offers a unique way to explore the heart of Oregon and the pioneering spirit of its people.


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