You can’t visit the Cascade Mountains without paying homage to the volcanoes, active and inactive, that make up the mountain chain from British Columbia south to northern California. Newberry Volcano is only one of many, but the national park is so well done that it’s worth your while to stop in here to learn a bit about the entire mountain range. Not only does the Lava Lands Visitor Center have an incredible display describing the Cascadia Subduction Zone that causes all this volcanic activity, but the grounds, which cover 50,000 acres, encompass the volcano, two volcanic alpine lakes, cinder cones, both obsidian and basaltic lava flows, and the longest lava tube (one mile) in Oregon, and miles of hiking trails to explore. Love this park! Just wish we hadn’t arrived so late in the day. It’s worth a full day of hiking and exploration.
Lava Butte cinder cone in the distance
basaltic lava flow with the Three Sisters mountains on the horizon
Love the sagebrush mixed in with the lava!
ground squirrels have a field day in the lava flows – lots of nooks and crannies to hide in
You’ve got to love a town named Bend. There’s just something about the name that sounds so, well, flexible. Everyone we’ve talked to who has been here says they love it. We had high expectations, and were not disappointed. Here’s a slideshow that attempts to show why.
a downtown plaza
enjoying a coffee downtown
homes on the riverfront
kayakers on the Deschutes River in the city
Notice the signs on the bridge: choose your own rapids.
wildflowers at Miller's Landing
beer walk-up window
Take your party on the road, Part I.
Take your party on the road, Part II.
What to do with all that leftover brewing hardware? Build a sink...
Just before we arrived in Bend, we stopped at Peter Skene Ogden State Park to take in the views of the Crooked River gorge. I suppose anywhere you have a scenic canyon with a bridge over it in Oregon, you’re going to find bungee jumpers. I had never witnessed bungee jumping before. It made my knees weak just watching.
The railroad bridge over the Crooked River
Check out the bungee jumping platform on the old bridge (green bridge in foreground).
We left the gorgeously green Columbia River Gorge to head south into the desert. Yes, Oregon has a desert. The Cascade Mountains serve as a barrier to all that wet on the Pacific side (west) of the mountains and creates a “rain shadow” over eastern Oregon. In all our travels to Oregon, we have never ventured into the desert, so here we are.
For our first hike this trip, we climbed up to Tom McCall Point in Mayer State Park. (Tom McCall, governor of Oregon from 1967 to 1975, was a champion of Oregon’s environment.) Mayer State Park is located on the river midway between Hood River and The Dalles and allows for fabulous views of the gorge and Mts. Hood (in Oregon) and Adams (in Washington) from the upper elevations. We hiked up to the Point from Rowena Crest, on the Historic Columbia River Highway, gaining almost 1000 feet in altitude. Great exercise. Great views. Perfect weather.
The trail head on Rowena Crest.
Cindy prepping for the hike.
Marcus prepping for the hike.
I guess the trail goes this way...
Barge on the river.
Whoops! We disturbed this guy on our climb.
Up we go!
The Gorge, looking east
The Gorge, looking west
Cindy with Mt. Hood in the background
Mt. Hood, on the Oregon side
Mt. Adams, across the river in Washington
That's some pretty large scat. Time for us to scat!
Much more interesting than The Dalles is Hood River, a town 22 miles west and also on the Columbia River at the mouth of the Hood River–surprise, surprise! Among its claims to fame are the invention of wind surfing (it gets quite breezy here on the Columbia) and several very noteworthy craft breweries. It’s also a cute town to walk around. Great coffee shops, independent boutiques, and restaurants.
Here we are in The Dalles (rhymes with “gals”), which is French for “flagstones,” also used as a term for waterfalls or rapids by the French-Canadian fur trappers who traveled the area in the 19th century. In 1957, a dam submerged the local Celilo Falls, a source of Native American commerce for 10,000 years.
The bridge crossing the Columbia here looks like it’s made of matchsticks!
The Dalles Dam. That’s the barren Washington side behind the dam.
The Dalles Bridge
Surprise! Look who we found peeking over the horizon southwest of The Dalles–it’s Mt. Hood!
We began our five-week tour of Oregon with a trip into the Columbia River Gorge from Portland. The Columbia River is the state line between Oregon and Washington and was the destination of Lewis and Clark back in 1805 when they were searching for a water passage from the United States (east of the Appalachian Mountains at that time) to the Pacific Coast. They knew of the Columbia River–the mouth had been discovered by Europeans in the 18th century. They were searching for a way to get to the Columbia from the Mississippi River.
This is my first time exploring the Gorge since reading about Lewis and Clark’s expedition in Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, and I am excited. The river is a lot calmer now than when the expedition navigated it. Gone are the multiple rapids and waterfalls they had to contend with. The many dams built during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration make the river appear more like a lake.
The topography is exceptional. The melting glaciers in Idaho and Montana (Missoula Floods) during the last ice age have carved out an incredible gorge in the layers of basalt left by erupting volcanoes prior to the glacial period. Interesting that the Oregon side is so much greener than the Washington side. Turns out the southwest orientation of the layers of rock cause the Washington side to erode into the river. They lose valuable layers of topsoil, while the Oregon side stays pretty much intact. Beautiful country!
Gateway to the Columbia Gorge–Troutdale, just east of Portland.
The Gorge, looking east from Chanticleer Point.
The Bonneville Dam, the first of FDR’s New Deal dams on the Columbia.
Lunch at Thunder Island Brewing in Cascade Locks. All that history and gorge-ous scenery works up a thirst!
Bucket list item realized last night: Bonnie Raitt in concert! We sat for three hours in a steady rain (Oregon!) and got drenched to the bone, but it was worth it. McMenamin’s Edgefield resort in Troutdale was loads of fun, if a bit muddy. I’m glad I allowed for a day off in our itinerary today. We’re cleaning up the mess and doing laundry.
Bonnie Raitt at McMenamin’s Edgefield Resort
Don’t let the brightness fool you. It rained steadily all day.
This event was six months in the planning–a great excuse to come to Oregon.