|Bicyclists enjoy the view of the Columbia River of the Historic Columbia River Highway, celebrating its Centennial Anniversary. // Photo by Travel Oregon|
The Historic Columbia River Highway is marking its 100 year anniversary this year, and agencies like Travel Oregon (formerly The Oregon Tourism Commission), the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the U.S. Forest Service are collaborating to introduce a new trip planning resource.
The highway itself, often called “America’s Great Highway,” spans 75 miles. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a natural border between Oregon and Washington. Attractions found at the site include waterfalls, wildflowers, basalt cliffs, lakes, streams and rivers all within 300,000 acres. Just a short distance from the Portland and Vancouver metropolitan areas, travelers come to visit destinations like Multnomah Falls, Crown Point and Rooster Rock State Park.
The program, called “Ready, Set, Gorge,” is a website providing tourists with tips to plan their trip to the River Highway, including public transportation options and ways to enjoy the events marking this years’ anniversary. The site aims to provide visitors with the most information and guidelines available for them to enjoy their visit, while being mindful of the local communities and natural resources of the oft-traveled road. The organizations hope that this information will help preserve the attraction for years to come.
The site provides links to various public and private shuttles and tours that are usually relatively low in cost, depending on the destination. The recently launched Columbia George Express began service in June, departing several times daily with roundtrip service from the Gateway Transit Center in Portland to Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls.
Tips the site provides for “getting ready” include going early (before 10 a.m.) or going late (after 4 p.m.) and going east (beyond the waterfall area of the western Gorge) for a less populated visit; go by bike, carpool, or shuttle to reduce cars on the road and to take your time visiting the town and trails of the Gorge. To get set, tell someone where you are going and when you plan on being home, acquire any permits necessary for your trip and if camping, bring the 10 essential items recommended by the American Hiking Society.