The waterfalls, streams and creeks scattered throughout the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Before moving to Portland, I never photographed landscape scenes, focusing exclusively on urban and architectural subjects. When I stood in front of my first waterfall, shortly before moving to Portland, I instantly fell in love with the grandeur and beauty of this particular type of nature.
Best Time To Visit
Tourists typically visit Portland and the Columbia River Gorge, which is a short 30-40 minute drive outside of the city, during the late spring and summer months, when the overcast, grey and rainy skies go away and leave us with an insanely lush and verdant forested landscape. However, while the weather may be agreeable, it also results in throngs of people overcrowding these areas, often making it extremely difficult to get to your intended destination.
I prefer visiting the gorge area during the autumn and winter months, during the week and while it’s raining. Aside from the great reduction in tourists, I find that the overcast skies allow me to really bring out the greens of the lichen and surrounding trees, especially when using a circular polarizer. Another bonus of having overcast skies is that I don’t have to worry about hard shadows or overly bright sunlight as the light is diffused and soft.
Town of Arrival
If you are flying in, you will want to select PDX as your airport. From the airport you can reach the entrance of the Gorge in about 45 minutes by taking I-84 eastbound towards Troutdale.
Favorite Location While Visiting
I am a big fan of Ruckel Creek Falls. It’s not the most famous or largest waterfall in the area but it offers a wonderful variety of subjects to photograph and the trail leading away from the upper falls offers a fabulous hike.
Physical Activity Needed
One of the great things about the waterfalls within the Columbia River Gorge is the variety of effort offered to visitors. Some waterfalls are located within a stone’s throw from the paved parking area. Other waterfalls require a mild-to-moderate hike. Finally, there are waterfalls that take several hours to hike to and require you to be in moderate-to-good shape. Regardless, you need to wear good hiking shoes and pack layers as the air tends to cool off the closer you approach the falls. You also need to pack a few microfiber cloths because your lens will definitely get coated with spray the closer you get.
There is a good number of waterfalls in the area which are fairly accessible and offer paved paths for wheelchair access...