Driving Along Oregon’s Columbia River

One of my favorite things about being back in Oregon is our proximity to the Columbia River Gorge & Basin, one of the most beautiful areas of the United States that I have ever traveled.

The Columbia River forms most of the border between Oregon and Washington, and the drive along its banks in Oregon takes you through city, the Cascade Mountains, and rolling hills and abrupt plateaus.

Columbia River 1853


The Columbia River Gorge, just east of Portland, abounds with natural beauty and is frequently listed as a “must-visit” destination by popular authorities on travel. The river cuts a sea-level passageway through the lush Cascade Mountains, resulting in gorgeous greenery, stunning vistas, and several amazing waterfalls and hiking trails.

Columbia River Gorge


For the 4th of July, our family took a quick trip from Portland to Walla Walla, Washington, where several members of my husband’s family live. We’ve traveled this road many, many times, but this time I wanted to try and capture what I love about this area of the country.

Driving Along Oregon's Columbia River


At least three mountains are usually visible from along the Columbia River in Oregon: Mt. Hood, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. Mount Adams is often just a “peekaboo,” and Mount St. Helens is seen best from the Portland Metro area, but there are several wonderful views of Mt Hood throughout both the Portland area and the Columbia Gorge & Basin.

Mountains Seen from Columbia River

Either side of Mt. Hood, upper left and bottom; Mount St Helens in the distance, upper right.


The Columbia River Gorge & Basin is a gateway to so many outdoor adventures: hiking, camping, biking, rafting, fishing, windsurfing, kite surfing, and more. There is so much to do here!

Outdoor Recreation on Oregon Columbia River


Though areas of the Columbia River Basin in Oregon feel far removed from society, tree farms (for paper), wind farms, dams, and miles and miles of tracks and trains connect this area to the modern world.

Production in the Columbia River Basin


Rural Life

Despite the number of people who come to the Columbia River for recreation, and the methods and modes of modern production in the Basin, I also love the rural quality of life felt through much of the eastern part of Oregon. My husband grew up in areas like this, and I know in many ways it still feels like home to him.

Rural Life Along Oregon Columbia River

The River Itself

The Columbia River is the 4th largest river (by volume) in North America, and the largest in the Pacific Northwest. There are several spots while driving along where the horizon opens up and all you see is the massive-ness of the river. It gives me goosebumps sometimes to see how beautiful and majestic it is.

Columbia River Oregon

Have you ever visited the Columbia River? If so, what did you think? If not, have you put it on your “Someday Destinations” list yet?

*please note: except where credit is given, all images are copyright Stacey Nerdin, 2013, and may not be reproduced in print or online without permission.