- Multnomah Falls
- Bend OR
- Richland WA
- Walla Walla, WA
- Mount Saint Helens
In the Spring of 2019 my husband and I took a long planned for trip to the Pacific NW of these fair United States. Unfortunately, at the end of my first trip ever to this region of the country, I didn’t satisfy my travel penchant for the Northwest at all. Now I just want to go back again. (and again and again) If you love hiking like I do, this is truly a hiker’s paradise. But never fear. Even if you are not a hiker, there is so much to do and see, you will never be bored. Do you like mountains, oceans, rivers, forests, plains, or valleys? You get it all here. You also get both the big city and the small town. We had 14 days on this trip, a pretty long vacation by anyone’s standard. But you can pick and choose from this travel itinerary and make it yours (as always) which means you can do 7 days if you like and never leave Portland, or Seattle or the Olympic National Forest. Get ready to be wowed! This is just Part 1 of this 14 day trip. Part 2 which takes off in Seattle, into the Olympic National Forest, to the Pacific Ocean and finally finishes in Cannon Beach, OR is Part 2.
Our day of arrival in the Pacific Northwest was a keeper. We landed at the airport in Portland, rented our car and drove directly to Multnomah Falls, the largest waterfall in Oregon and second largest in the nation. It is just about 30 miles east of Portland along the historical Columbia River. Underground springs from Larch Mountain are the year-round source of water for the waterfall, augmented by spring runoff from the mountain’s snowpack and rainwater during the other seasons. This spring is the source of Multnomah Creek. I hiked to the top. Take water and snacks. It is steep, about 1o to 12 switchbacks all the way up. But the views from the lower landings are impeccable as well. And for the “next time I visit,” I want to stay a few days before leaving the area and just hike all six of these waterfalls along this route along with Multnomah: Latourell, Bridal Veil, Wahkeena, Oneonta Gorge and Lower Oneonta, and Horsetail Falls. Eats: Multnomah Falls Lodge. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had lunch there and it was very good. We also had a view of the falls from our table.
BEND, OR So from Portland to Bend on Hwy 26 through Mount Hood Forest it got to snowing pretty hard through Government Pass. We drove slow and conservatively. Several cars and 1 18 wheeler were in ditches along the way as well as one pretty bad no injury wreck. And this-late in March. As soon as we descended from the pass, it was done. The snow I mean. Gone as quickly as it had appeared. If you are there any sooner than we were (last week of March) make sure you have chains in your cars. We have family who live in Bend and this was our first time to visit this lovely city.
A must do in Bend is to visit and hike around Smith Rock. The “next time I visit,” I am going to dedicate much more time than an afternoon to this place. Pack a cooler of food and drinks and plan to stay a while. And if you have time to squeeze in a little snowshoeing, you can do so at Wanoga Snow Park at Mt. Bachelor.
Well, after dragging ourselves away from Bend, we drove up through rolling hills and plains of Oregon through the Shaniko Oregon Ghost Town all the way back to the Columbia River in Rufus OR where, after lunch, we headed east along the River to our next destination, our friends’ house in Richland WA. What was in store for us: hiking Badger Mountain, touring Hanford Works B Reactor, and touring the quaint city of Walla Walla along with all of its many wineries. This is excellent wine country, and the ambience of this area begs for a return visit.
A word about the Hanford Works. The Manhattan Project was the code name for USA’s making of Atomic bombs during WWII that effectively ended the war in the Pacific theatre. Three isolated locations were chosen. Oakridge TN created the Uranium for the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Richland Washington’s Hanford’s works produced the enriched plutonium for the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. Los Alamos NM was the major testing site. We toured what remains of the Hanford site and the B reactor still existing there. Crazy interesting. I read a great book called “The Women of Atomic City” which is about the Oakridge TN plant. If you are ever in the Richland, WA area, the Hanford Works nuclear reservation is a must see. Super cool whether you are a chemist or not. (I’m not, but I am a pretty serious history buff!)
Our next destination: Mount St. Helens, but along the way we enjoyed the views. That is what you do over here. You can’t just drive from A to B without being stunned by nature along the way. We entered US Hwy 12 from Yakima WA and stayed on it through White Pass a mountain pass in the northwest United States, located in the Cascade Range of Washington, southeast of Mount Rainier, until we got to I5 and went south from there to Mount Saint Helens. We were happy that our second Pass to drive through on this trip rendered no blowing snow or snowed over roads!! We admired the Tieton River and the Yakima valley along the Cascade mountain range as we drove.
We arrived at the Mount St. Helens visitor park in the early evening. Seaquest State Park is a public recreation area located on the western flank of Silver Lake in Cowlitz County, Washington. It is home to the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, which offers displays on the Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption of 1980. I highly recommend doing the short informative tour through the visitor center before heading out to hike or to see the crater. You get a very comprehensive overview of Mount St. Helens and the famous eruption of 1980 that is forever emblazoned in our memories. We stayed the night and the next day hiked both the Coldwater Lake Trail and Hummock’s Trail. We were in the off season so we could not go to the crater. But the hikes themselves were a constant unveiling of beauty and wonder. Furthermore, Hummok’s trail offers excellent views of the crater. We stayed at the Timberland Inn & Suites in Castle Rock which was only about a 10 minute drive from the visitor center. It was very clean and vey inexpensive.
Kent Washington and the Aviation Museum of Seattle: Next we were privileged yet again to connect with even more friends in Kent. Both our friends there and my husband are pilots and aviation enthusiasts. When you’re married to a pilot, this is part of the package! But I love all things history and aviation so I was super excited to tour the Museum of Flight in Seattle WA. Also in Seattle is Boeing’s manufacture plant for the 737 airplane which is what Paul flies for the company. “The Museum of Flight is the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world! With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, tens of thousands of artifacts, millions of rare photographs, dozens of exhibits and experiences and a world-class library, the Museum and its people bring mankind’s incredible history of flight to life.” (Ref: Museum of Flight main website.)
Next up Seattle and the Olympic National Forest. See you there in the Pacific Northwest Part 2….