See the Best Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls in 2023

Though there are plenty of things to do in the Columbia River Gorge, exploring Columbia River Gorge waterfalls is always at the top of our list. Everywhere you turn – especially as the snow melts from spring into summer, there are plenty of waterfalls across the Gorge. Some you can see from the comfort of your car along Highway 30, and others are best reached by hiking.

Most people who’ve been to or are planning to visit the Columbia River Gorge have heard of and even seen Multnomah Falls – and while this impressive waterfall is certainly a sight to behold, it’s just one of the many breathtaking Columbia Gorge Waterfalls worth seeing in 2023. Now’s the time to plan your adventures, too, as visiting these waterfalls is one of the most popular things to do in the Columbia River Gorge.

To enjoy these Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and more this year, why not place yourself right in the heart of the scenic gorge area? There’s no better place to stay in the Columbia River Gorge than our luxury cabins in Washington. We’re located just minutes from the charming town of Hood River, with easy access to all the top-rated things to do in the Columbia River Gorge, including hikes, biking routes, waterfalls, and so much more. Book your couple’s getaway to our luxury cabins in Washington today!

Multnomah falls - one of the most popular Columbia River Gorge waterfalls

The Best Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls

If there’s one place to start your epic adventure to the most gorgeous Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls, it’s at Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls is located on Oregon’s famed Highway 30, a breathtakingly scenic drive through The Gorge – a route also known as the Historic Columbia River Highway and part of a region called the waterfall corridor. We have good news, too – you’ll no longer need a waterfall corridor permit to access Multnomah Falls and other popular Columbia River Gorge waterfalls during peak season – a welcome departure from a 2022 policy.

Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural wonder in the Pacific Northwest, and with one look at these mighty, cascading waters, it’s easy to see why. The waterfall is a constant presence along the historic Columbia River Highway, but its best seen in spring and winter when the waterfall is at its most powerful. As you leave the visitor center, take the (steep) hike to the historic Benson Bridge and enjoy the iconic views from there. You can stop at the bridge or continue the hike to the top for even more breathtaking views. It’s a 2.4-mile roundtrip all the way to the top.

Multnomah Falls should really just be the beginning of your adventure in the Gorge, though. Below are four more Columbia River Gorge waterfalls worth seeing while exploring the twists and bends of the Historic Columbia River Highway.

  1. Another popular waterfall along Highway 30, though just to the west of the waterfall corridor, is LaTourell Falls. This waterfall can be accessed by a relatively easy 2.4-mile loop.
  2. Before entering the official waterfall corridor, make sure to stop at the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls. The hike to get there is a short one-mile that’s rated as easy.
  3. As you enter the waterfall corridor, the first of the impressive Columbia River Gorge waterfalls you’ll come to is Wahkeena Falls. This waterfall cascades an impressive 242 feet and can be accessed by several trailheads in the area.
  4. After you leave Multnomah Falls, continue down Highway 30 to the east, and eventually, you’ll come to the last of the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls in the corridor, Horsetail Falls. This waterfall plunges 176 feet and can be seen from the highway. There are also some short trails here that offer better views of the waterfall.
Panther Creek Falls is another of our favorite Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls

When you get off the well-worn path of Highway 30 and crave even more stunning Columbia River Gorge waterfalls, here are the four worth seeing in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, all located on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge and within easy reach of our luxury cabins in Washington.

  1. Aside from those found in the waterfall corridor, we think Lower Lewis Falls is one of the most impressive Columbia River Gorge waterfalls. From June 15 – September 15, visitors to the Lewis River Recreation Area will need a parking permit to access Lower Lewis Falls. The hike to the falls is relatively easy and flat and traverses some gorgeous old-growth sections of forest. You can hike further to see the middle and upper falls, if you’d like, for a total of 8.8 miles.
  2. Falls Creek Falls is another excellent choice to see the beauty of Columbia River Gorge waterfalls. The hike to the falls is an easy 3.4 miles roundtrip. At more than 335 feet tall, this also happens to be one of the tallest waterfalls in Washington State.
  3. If you’re looking for a short and easy hike with a gorgeous waterfall at the end, head to Panther Creek Falls. The hike is less than .25 miles roundtrip! The 130-foot-tall waterfall, though, is beautiful and consists of two impressive drops.
  4. Our final recommendation for Columbia River Gorge waterfalls to see this year is Starvation Creek Falls. The trip to get here is about the same as Panther Creek Falls, but again, the 190-foot-tall plunge this waterfall takes is worth the time.
Wahkeena Falls, one of the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls along the Waterfall corridor

No Waterfall Corridor Permits for 2023

The Waterfall Corridor of the Columbia River Gorge is defined as the area just east of Bridal Veil Falls, at Exit 28, through Ainsworth State Park at Exit 35. In 2022, Oregon implemented the use of the waterfall corridor permits to visit some of the most popular Columbia River Gorge waterfalls as a means to improve access to the falls and make the visitor experience more enjoyable. Before implementing the timed-use permits, you’d frequently encounter masses of crowds, greatly diminishing the experience. This was especially true during the busier summer travel season.

In a departure from this policy, however, waterfall corridor permits will no longer be required to access this area between May and September 2023 to see these impressive Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls. Even without needing to get a permit, though, we encourage you to plan your trip early to make the most of your time with these stunning Columbia River Gorge waterfalls – and we even encourage you to visit outside the peak travel season, particularly if you can avoid weekends, so you can make the most of your time in this magnificent area.

If you’re ready to start planning your epic adventure to these fantastic Columbia River Gorge waterfalls, now’s the time to start planning. Get started by booking one of our luxury cabins in Washington!

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