We arrived in Portland with a relatively short list of things to do on our time off: drink good coffee, eat good food and see the great outdoors. We accomplished the first two in a matter of minutes (there’s a Stumptown coffee conveniently located in the same building as one of Portland’s tastiest restaurants, Clyde Common). For our outdoor exploring, we decided to turn to photographer Parker Fitzgerald.
After living vicariously through his photos for quite some time, we deemed him the perfect guide to the Pacific Northwest. We met Parker with his girlfriend Riley at Heart Roasters and hit the road.First stop on our afternoon adventure: Multnomah Falls. A few Google image searches prior to our arrival had us really excited for this one—it’s a tremendous waterfall with a small bridge above the rushing water. We didn’t quite believe Parker when he told us the sights would only get better from there (many local Portland residents think the Falls are a bit touristy).
We continued our journey through the Columbia River Gorge to a small river outlet, dammed by fallen trees at the top. Exploring this one is not for the feint of heart—you should either come prepared with real hiking shoes or take yours off and bare the cold water to avoid slipping. If you’re feeling especially brave, you can climb up and over the logs further into the gorge. If not, there are numerous rock ledges that are perfect for sunning on a nice afternoon and a picnic lunch.
Parker really did save one of the best spots for last (even though we were still in awe of the waterfall). He took us to what he called “the island,” a small piece of land surrounded almost entirely by the Columbia River, reachable by a short road just off of the main highway.
To put it simply, it was breathtaking. Climbing to the highest point of “the island,” we had sweeping views of the river, Gorge and Washington state on the other side.
Remarkably, all of this is just an hour drive outside of Portland. Looking to go yourself? Take the 84 highway out of Portland to reach the falls, then continue on the smaller Historic Columbia River highway to reach the river (you’ll see a big rock you can walk through right by the bridge).
Photos by Collin Hughes