Waterfalls & Whitewater

On our first morning in Oregon, we drove east from Portland, following Interstate 84 through the scenic gorge of the Columbia River. Along the way, we had the good fortune to exit onto the Old Gorge Road (a 7-mile detour from the highway), which took us past three spectacular waterfalls, among the highest and most beautiful in the State.

Turning south at Hood River, we climbed through orchard-covered hills and began to circle the isolated pinnacle of Mount Hood (11,240 ft.), Oregon's tallest and most famous peak. Southwest of the Mt. Hood region, at Estacada, we began a long, winding climb along the Clackamas River, which led southeast toward the crest of the Cascades. This scenic, whitewater stream, a popular destination for kayakers and fisherman, provoked photo stops at every turn and offered a fabulous route into the heart of mountains.

A bit farther to the south, we descended from the Cascades along the McKenzie River, another spectacular waterway. Several scenic waterfalls, easily accessed from Route 126, were spaced along this river, which eventually joins the Williamette near Springfield. At the end of our exhilarating day in the Cascades, we spent the night in Eugene, Home of the Oregon Ducks.