Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is the wide canyon of the Columbia in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America. Therein the river breaks through the Cascade Range. The valley extends from The Dalles to Crown Point and forms in many parts of the border between the states of Washington (southern border) and Oregon ( northern boundary ). The main towns in the gorge are Hood River and The Dalles. Two large dams, of The Dalles Dam and the Bonneville Dam defuse the rapids and generate energy.

In the gorge, the largest concentration of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest is home to, including, for example, the Multnomah Falls with a height difference of 188 m impressive.

Geology and vegetation

Over the ages, the Columbia River has driven deep into the volcanic rock of the Columbia Plateau basalt. The last major erosion took place during the Missoula floods in the last ice age about 13,000 years ago. Beginning of the 17th century, the " Bonneville Slide", a large landslide occurred, as a result of the Columbia was dammed. When the river, the loose soil was finally washed away, a natural bridge over the Columbia River had arisen, but collapsed again at a later volcanic eruption. The indigenous Native Americans remember the event in their legends and call it Bridge of the Gods. A bridge inaugurated in 1926 is now called Bridge of the Gods.

Frequent rain nurtures the forests and the many waterfalls over the basalt rocks. The valley is covered with conifers, among other things, maple - trees, poplars, oaks and ash trees. The different heights and different levels of precipitation in the regions has produced a biological diversity of ecosystems, for example, a temperate rain forest at Oneonta Gorge ( average precipitation 190 cm p a.) Or the Celilo - meadows (average rainfall 30 cm). Likewise, there is a rich wildflower population. On the slopes it grows, especially on side of Oregon (eg, Hood River Vinery ).

Settlement history

The valley is inhabited since around 13,000 years ago. The existence of the people of Folsom and the Marmes, who had immigrated over the Beringia from Asia, has been demonstrated in excavations. Excavations at Celilo Falls ( near the city of The Dalles ), showed that people have inhabited this ideal location for salmon fishing for over 10,000 years.

For many centuries, the valley between the Deschutes River and Portland was the only way through the Cascade Mountains. 1805 used the Lewis and Clark expedition the valley to reach the Pacific. From 1913 to 1922, the Historic Columbia River Highway was built on the Columbia River Oregon side as a tourist road, for the increasing car traffic next to today's Interstate 84 was built until 1960. With these roads, the valley is an important transportation corridor and one of the major tourist routes in the Pacific Northwest.

In November 1986, the U.S. Congress decided the valley, due to the unique beauty of the first U.S. National Scenic Area to explain. Within the valley are all on the Oregon side numerous state parks.


Atmospheric pressure differentials east and west of the Cascade Mountains create a wind tunnel effect in low-lying areas of the canyon. Therefore, here are many windsurfers and kitesurfers encountered. The river is known for its ideal suitable water bodies worldwide.