With daylight savings right around the corner (March 12), the promise of longer daylight hours have us dreaming of packing the car, tuning up a few playlists, and hitting Highway 1.
Make your way to Portland, Oregon, where in between all the food carts and awesome craft beer, you can check out the natural beauty that the city and the Columbia River Gorge have on tap. Just be sure to pack your camera — this is one for the books.
Take Some Photos at Latourell Falls
In the Columbia River Gorge, you'll find the amazing Latourell Falls just a few hundred feet from the road; once you're in the parking lot, the viewpoint for the falls is straight ahead of you. If you feel like, take the short trail off to the side — it's only a few hundred yards long — and walk right up to the small pool at the base of the falls for some amazing photos. Be warned; you will get soaked. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Taking the side trail means you can explore behind the fall.
Hike to Wahclella Falls
This accessible, out-and-back hike will take you a mile in to see Wahclella Falls. There's a slight elevation gain, but don't worry — at two miles total, this hike is easy enough that you'll have plenty of energy to explore more nearby spots afterward. Make sure to bring your camera — you'll want to take photos of the falls from every angle. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Do lots of hiking in the PNW? Pick up a $30 Northwest Pass at REI and you won't be paying any more entrance or parking fees.
Hike to the Vista of Angel's Rest
It's pretty obvious that there's no shortage of incredible hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, but this is one of the best. From the trailhead just off the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highways, you'll cut immediately into the quintessential Oregon forest and stay there for the 4.6 round trip miles of the hike up to the vista point. Pack some extra layers for the top — it'll be windy. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Once you reach the summit, you'll have views of the Gorge and all the way to Portland — not to mention a bench and a stone table to take it all in from. Pack a lunch and stop here for a break before you head back down the trail.
Catch the Sunrise from Rocky Butte
Not too far from downtown Portland is Joseph Wood Hill Park, an under-the-radar gem on Rocky Butte that gives you incredibly views over the city and Mount Hood. Arrive an hour before sunrise to give yourself time to park, set up your camera, and sip on a thermos of coffee before the sun creeps over the horizon. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Sunset is also an amazing time to take in the views from Rocky Butte, but evening are definitely more crowded.
Check Out Multnomah Falls
Looking for another gorgeous and easily accessible waterfall to visit in the Columbia River Gorge? You're in luck; from the parking lot, it's a short walk to reach Multnomah Falls' main viewpoint. For a longer hike, take the 2.6-mile round trip hike to the viewpoint at the top of the falls, or the 4.9-mile round trip hike that leads you to see even more of the beautiful falls in the area. Regardless, try to arrive early; this spot can get crowded. Learn more.
Insider Tip: The lodge and visitor's center at the falls has a coffee bar, restaurant, and restrooms.