Columbia River Scenic Highway
Opened in 1916, Oregon’s Columbia River Scenic Highway was praised by Teddy Roosevelt for its beauty and engineering—and this 70-mile route from Troutdale to The Dalles remains magnificent today.
- Find the west end of the highway 16 miles east of Portland at Troutdale.
- 70 miles of Northwestern beauty traverses the lovely Columbia River Gorge.
- Stretch this 2-hour drive into a full-day outing to enjoy the views and attractions along the way.
One of the best ways to enjoy the Columbia River Gorge’s unparalleled scenery and picturesque Northwestern villages is to drive the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway. The first planned highway for scenic purposes, this winding road takes visitors past breathtaking views of the river, the Gorge, cascading waterfalls, and the plant life that punctuate this stunning landscape.
The Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway begins in Troutdale (16 miles east of Portland) and ending in The Dalles, Oregon. To reach its western end, take Interstate 84 east out of Portland to Exit 17 and follow the signs south to the Historic Columbia River Highway.
The entire stretch of highway runs 70 miles. The road is narrow, winding, and sometimes steep, and there are numerous viewpoints and small-town points of interest along the way, so allowing plenty of time to make the tour is recommended. Although you could drive from one end to the other in less than 2 hours, there are enough pleasant diversions on the route to make it a full-day excursion.
Some of the highlights along this scenic highway include:
- Five dramatic waterfalls: Latourell, Sheppard’s Dell, Bridal Veil, Wahkeenah, and famous Multnomah Falls (the U.S.’s second highest at 620 feet).
- Vista House and nearby Chanticleer Point at the Portland Women’s Forum State Park.
- Lush moss-covered Douglas fir and pine rainforest.
- Tom McCall Wildlife Preserve, just beyond Mosier on the Rowena Plateau.
- Rowena Crest Overlook at Mayer State Park.
- The Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum at the end of the highway in The Dalles.