Nestled in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Oregon, Multnomah Falls is a breathtaking natural wonder that should not be missed. This majestic waterfall stands at 620 feet tall, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the United States. Its beauty and charm have been drawing visitors from all over the world for over a century.
Getting to Multnomah Falls is easy as it is located just off the Historic Columbia River Highway. The drive to the falls is picturesque, passing through dense forests and offering stunning views of the Columbia River. Visitors can also take public transportation, as there are shuttle buses available from Portland and nearby towns.
What is the best time to visit Multnomah Falls?
The best time to visit Multnomah Falls depends on your personal preferences and interests, as well as the season and weather conditions. Here are some factors to consider when planning your visit:
- Weather: The weather at Multnomah Falls can vary greatly depending on the season. The falls are most spectacular in the spring and early summer, when the snow and ice melt and the water flow is at its highest. However, this is also the busiest time of year, and the trails and viewing areas can be crowded. In the fall, the foliage surrounding the falls can be stunning, but the water flow may be lower. In the winter, the falls can be icy and slippery, but the crowds are much smaller.
- Crowds: Multnomah Falls is a popular destination, and it can get very crowded during peak times, especially on weekends and holidays. If you prefer to avoid crowds, consider visiting during the weekdays, early in the morning, or later in the afternoon. Additionally, during the pandemic, it’s important to check if there are any capacity restrictions or changes in operation hours.
- Trail Conditions: The trails around Multnomah Falls can be affected by weather conditions, especially in the winter and spring when there may be snow or ice on the ground. If you plan to hike the trails, be sure to check trail conditions and wear appropriate footwear and clothing.
- Events: Multnomah Falls hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including live music, guided hikes, and holiday celebrations. Check the park’s calendar to see if there are any events that interest you.
Upon arrival at the falls, visitors are greeted by the sight of the magnificent cascading water. The falls are divided into two sections: the upper falls and the lower falls. The upper falls drop from a height of 542 feet, while the lower falls drop from a height of 69 feet. A footbridge spans across the lower falls, offering visitors a closer look at the falls as well as a chance to experience the misty spray of the falls.
There are many hiking trails available for visitors to explore, ranging from easy to moderate. The most popular trail is the 2.6-mile roundtrip hike to the top of the falls. This hike takes visitors through lush forests and provides stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. At the top of the falls, visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy a variety of other activities at Multnomah Falls. There is a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs, as well as a restaurant serving delicious meals and snacks. There are also picnic areas available for visitors to enjoy a leisurely lunch while taking in the beauty of the falls.
For those who want to spend more time exploring the Columbia River Gorge, there are many nearby attractions worth visiting. One popular attraction is the Vista House, a historic observatory with stunning views of the Columbia River. Another attraction is the Bonneville Dam, which offers tours of its hydroelectric power plant and fish ladder.
What is the best time of day to visit Multnomah Falls?
If you want to avoid crowds, the best time to visit is early in the morning or in the late afternoon. The falls are a popular attraction, and during peak hours (usually midday), the parking lot can fill up quickly, and the viewing areas can become crowded. By visiting early in the morning or in the late afternoon, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.
If you are interested in photography, the best time to visit is during the golden hour, which is typically the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset. During this time, the light is softer, warmer, and more diffused, which can create stunning lighting conditions for photographs.
If you want to see the falls in full flow, the best time to visit is during the spring. This is when snowmelt and rain combine to create a strong flow of water over the falls. However, this is also the busiest time of year, so be prepared for crowds.
Can I go to Multnomah Falls without a reservation?
Yes, you can go to Multnomah Falls without a reservation. There is no entrance fee or admission charge to visit the falls, and no reservations are required to enter the area or hike the trails.
However, parking at Multnomah Falls can be limited, especially during peak times. There is a parking lot at the base of the falls that can accommodate up to 200 cars, but it can fill up quickly on weekends and holidays. When the parking lot is full, visitors may need to park at a nearby overflow lot and walk to the falls.
If you are visiting Multnomah Falls during peak times and want to ensure a parking spot, it’s best to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This will not only increase your chances of finding a parking spot, but it will also allow you to avoid the crowds that often gather during midday.
It’s worth noting that due to changing circumstances and events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a good idea to check for any updates or changes to the policies and procedures of visiting Multnomah Falls before your trip.
How long should you spend at Multnomah Falls?
The amount of time you should spend at Multnomah Falls depends on your interests and schedule. If you just want to take a quick look at the falls and snap some photos, you can spend as little as 30 minutes to an hour.
However, if you want to explore the area more thoroughly, hike the trails, or enjoy a picnic or a meal at the nearby restaurant, you could easily spend several hours or more at Multnomah Falls.
Here are some suggested timeframes for different activities at Multnomah Falls:
- Quick Visit: If you just want to see the falls and take some photos, you can spend 30 minutes to an hour at Multnomah Falls.
- Hike to Benson Bridge: If you want to hike to the Benson Bridge and back, plan for 1-2 hours, depending on your pace and how crowded the trails are.
- Hike to Other Waterfalls: If you plan to hike to other waterfalls in the area, such as Wahkeena Falls or Fairy Falls, plan for several hours or more, depending on the length and difficulty of the trail.
- Enjoy a Meal or Picnic: If you plan to enjoy a meal or a picnic at the nearby restaurant or picnic area, plan for at least an hour or two, depending on how long you want to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Is it an easy walk to Multnomah Falls?
The walk to Multnomah Falls is relatively easy and accessible, but it does involve a moderate incline and some stairs. The main viewing platform for the falls is located just a short walk from the parking lot, and it offers a great view of the lower falls.
If you want to get a closer look at the falls, you can hike up to the Benson Bridge, which spans the lower falls and provides a unique vantage point. The hike to the Benson Bridge is about 0.2 miles (0.3 km) each way and involves a moderate incline and a flight of stairs. While the hike is not strenuous, it may be challenging for those with mobility issues or who are not accustomed to hiking.
If you want to explore further, there are several trails that lead from Multnomah Falls to other waterfalls and viewpoints in the area. These trails range in difficulty from easy to strenuous, and they offer a range of experiences for hikers of all abilities.
How early can you go to Multnomah Falls?
Multnomah Falls is open year-round from dawn to dusk, which means that technically you can visit the falls as early as sunrise. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The parking lot at Multnomah Falls typically opens at 9:00 am. This means that if you arrive before 9:00 am, you will need to park at a nearby overflow lot and walk to the falls.
- During the winter months, the falls can be icy and slippery, especially in the early morning when temperatures are colder. If you plan to visit in the winter, it’s a good idea to check the conditions and wear appropriate footwear with good traction.
- If you plan to hike the trails, it’s important to give yourself enough time to complete the hike before sunset. This means that if you plan to start your hike early in the morning, you should check what time the sun will set and plan your hike accordingly.
Visiting Multnomah Falls is an unforgettable experience. Its beauty and majesty make it a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether you are hiking to the top of the falls, enjoying a picnic lunch, or simply taking in the sights and sounds of the falls, Multnomah Falls is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.