There are dozens of beautiful waterfalls you can visit along the scenic Columbia River Highway. Some of them require a short hike, some that require a little more effort to get to, and some that only need you to hop out of your car. Either way, they are all stunning and you will want to have your camera with you!
When people think of waterfalls in Oregon, Multnomah Falls is usually the first one that comes to mind. Multnomah Falls is Oregon's tallest waterfall and is also the most visited natural attraction in Oregon! Multnomah Falls is stunning but did you know there are over a dozen other amazing waterfalls you can visit all on the same stretch of road that is the scenic Columbia River Highway?
The following waterfalls are an easy day trip from Portland and can be reached via the I-84 heading east. It is approximately a 45 minute drive and there are other cool attractions to see along the Columbia River Gorge highway.
Stunning Waterfalls You Must See Near Portland
Multnomah Falls is a roaring 611 foot cascading waterfall that is easily accessed via the parking lot below. This waterfall is the most visited and most photographed of the waterfalls along the scenic Columbia River Highway. For a closer view, walk several hundred feet along the paved trail to the bridge which spans the falls first tier. From here you will have the perfect view of the top tier's full 542 foot height. You can keep going if you’re in the mood to make it to the top.
Triple Falls is not one, but three parallel waterfalls that drop 135 feet. To see this waterfall it will require a five mile hike which begins at the Oneonta trail head. Big-leaf maples and vine maples make this a beautiful hike in Autumn.
Ponytail Falls is a favorite among photographers since you can get some unique shots from behind the waterfall itself. This is the easiest of the waterfalls to hike out to in the Columbia River Gorge at only 0.3 miles one way. It is heavily trafficked but is good for all skill levels and accessible all year.
Latourell Falls is a 249-foot plunge waterfall and is usually the first waterfall seen along the Columbia River Highway. This waterfall is most recognized for the large patch of bright yellow lichen adorning the cliff face to the right of the falls which makes for some visually pleasing photographs. Latourell Falls is a short hike from the parking lot to the bottom of the falls
Wahkeena Falls is a 242 foot waterfall which has a subtle cascading flow. To reach this waterfall park at the Wahkeena Falls parking lot and hike an easy 0.5 miles out to the falls. You can also continue this loop trail to reach the top of Multnomah Falls.
Punchbowl Falls is accessed via the Eagle Creek trail which is a popular hiking trail for folks from Portland. The hike itself is quite spectacular with cliffs on both sides that can be a little scary if you are afraid of heights. There is a small rocky pool you can wade out in and then swim over to the waterfall. If you are daring enough, there is a small cliff close by where you can jump into the creek below.
Tunnel Falls plunges 160 feet from the towering basalt cliff above into the creek below but the coolest thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it. Tunnel Falls is quite a hike at 12 miles round trip! It does require stamina and you need to start the hike early. To get to Tunnel Falls, you begin on the Eagle Creek trail which is the same trail that leads to Punchbowl Falls.
Horsetail Falls is located right beside the Columbia River Highway and requires no hiking! It can be seen from the road too if you don’t have time to get out of the car. This waterfall is much less crowded than nearby Multnomah Falls and is perfect for snapping selfies in front of.
OREGON GUIDE BOOKS
OREGON TOURS & ACTIVITIES
OREGON TRAVEL RESOURCES