Historic Columbia River Highway


Area Status: Open
A runner on the Historic Highway

Constructed between 1913 and 1922, the original Columbia River Highway was designed to bring travelers to the most breathtaking sights and scenes in the Gorge. From the amazing loops at Rowena plateau to Multnomah Falls, its iconic and innovative design included rock walls, bridges earned it the nicknames "King of Roads" and "A Poem in Stone." It was a new type of motorway bringing automobile adventurers to the Gorge's "beauty spots", and many consider it to be America's first scenic highway.  

Structures such as Vista House and Forest Service recreation sites Multnomah Falls and Eagle Creek were developed in conjunction with the highway to connect motorists to the Gorge's natural wonders. Parts of the original roadway were replaced by Interstate 84 in the 1960s, so in 1986 the National Scenic Area designation began a process to reconnect this inspiring pathway. 

Thanks to interagency collaboration, the Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH) State Trail winds through state, federal, and other lands. Travelers can discover waterfalls, vistas, and beautiful bridges as they explore the length of the Gorge, enjoying scenic rest stops along the way. Today, visitors can explore segments of the historic route by driving, biking, or heading out on foot. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 9/6/2022: Timed Use Permits no longer required. Check back for dates for 2023.
Information Center:
  • Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, (541) 308-1700
  • Oregon State Department of Transportation, 1 (888) 275-6368

Activities

Road Cycling

Tour by bike the newer car-free sections of the HCRH State Trail built to retrace the historic route. When complete, cylists will be able to make their way from Portland to The Dalles without using I-84.

Areas for Road Cycling at Historic Columbia River Highway

Day Hiking

Hike, walk, or run the paved HCRH State Trail sections. Several of the trailheads along the HCRH State Park segment offer access to hiking and backpacking opportunities on State Park and Forest Service lands. 

Areas for Day Hiking at Historic Columbia River Highway

Viewing Scenery

Visitor Centers

Multnomah Falls Lodge, on the Waterfall Corridor section of the historic highway, has an information center. Not far from the Hood River section of the highway, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area office has a small information center that is open 9-5 on weekdays.

Areas for Visitor Centers at Historic Columbia River Highway

Scenic Driving

Drive the length of the Gorge by weaving between three remaining segments designated as Oregon Scenic Byway 30 and today’s Interstate 84. 

Areas for Scenic Driving at Historic Columbia River Highway

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Highlights