Exit 22 to the Historic Columbia River Highway (I-30) near Troutdale (about 15 miles east of Portland) is the quickest route, skipping the Troutdale section.
This leg will take us past two spectacular vistas; Portland Women’s Forum and Vista House.
We’re headed towards The Dallas, Oregon, about 80 miles up river and the eastern terminus of the Columbia River Gorge, a canyon up to 4,000 feet deep that cuts through the Cascade Range. We’ll stay on the historic highway most of the way.
The views have remained as breathtaking as the day the highway opened, 100 years ago this year.
OPB rides along with PSU geology Professor Scott Burns who points out fascinating geologic features of The Gorge.
Some sections of the old (and newly restored) Columbia Gorge Highway are restricted to hikers and bikers. The solid tan lines on the map (below) indicate sections of the historic highway you can drive. The dotted marks indicate sections restricted to hiking and biking.
I-84 Exit to Vista House
1. I-84 exit to Historic Highway (exit 22)
2. Entrance to Historic Highway
3. Grange Hall turnoff (milepost 22)
5. Portland Women’s Forum: 1/4 mile ahead
6. Portland Women’s Forum (milepost 23)
Portland Women’s Forum is the premier viewpoint for viewing and photographing Vista House and the Columbia River Gorge with a breathtaking 30 mile view of river and the Gorge. Interpretive signs share the story of the ice age floods that shaped the Columbia River Gorge and explain the highway builders’ vision.
The founding members raised the funds to buy this viewpoint and eventually gifted the property to the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department. It is also called Chanticleer Point after the owner of the “Chanticleer Inn”, built in 1912 which later burned down.
7. Portland Women’s Forum (Google Panorama)
8. Larch Mountain Exit (stay left)
Follow Larch Mt Road 14 miles up to the picnic area and trailhead of Larch Mountain, about 4000′ above sea level. It features a picnic area and a short walk to Sherrard Point (0.2 miles), from which you have a 360 degree vista of the area. You can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson on a clear day.
10. Arriving at Vista House (milepost 24)
Vista House, open from 9am – 6pm April through October was built in 1917 as memorial to Oregon pioneers. It is a octagonal, deco-style rock structure, 733 feet above the river. It is the centerpiece of Crown Point State Park.
Vista House Panorama (Google)