Note: Access to Multnomah Falls is limited due to wildfire damage. As of March 28, 2018, the Multnomah Falls Lodge, front plaza and lower viewing platform are open. Trails, Benson Bridge and the upper viewing platform are closed as they undergo repairs, and the area is inaccessible via the Historic Columbia River Highway. For more information, visit the U.S. Forest Service’s website.
In a state where water regularly flows down from upon high, Multnomah Falls — all 620 feet (189 m) of it — stands above the rest as Oregon’s tallest waterfall. Located just 30 miles (48 km) east of downtown Portland along the Historic Columbia River Highway, the two-drop cascade attracts visitors of all types and ages, with both wheelchair-accessible viewing platforms and steep hiking trails that lead all the way to the top. Fed by rainwater and snowmelt, the falls’ steady stream runs year-round, making it a year-round attraction. The highest volume comes in winter and spring, and the waterfall sometimes freezes partially at the height of winter.
Many visitors make the 1/4-mile (0.4 km) hike up to the Benson Bridge, a photogenic foot-crossing built in 1914 by lumber baron Simon Benson, which spans the falls’ second drop. Not just a great place to enjoy the view, it’s also perfect for catching your breath before forging ahead to the top, or returning to the Multnomah Falls Lodge below. Built in 1925, the lodge also has excellent views and is home to a restaurant, gift shop, espresso bar and U.S. Forest Service interpretive center.
Whether you climb to the top or peer up from the bottom, dress warmly and wear shoes with traction, because the waterfall’s spray makes the entire area cool and slick. Dressing for the water also means you’re already prepared for rainy weather, if storm clouds happen to roll into the Columbia River Gorge during your visit.