If you’re an outdoor adventurer looking for an awe-inspiring experience, then you absolutely must add Oregon's iconic Multnomah Falls to your bucket list. At 620 feet tall, Multnomah Falls is the highest waterfall in Oregon and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States – a spectacular sight that anyone who loves nature will find difficult to forget. Whether you’re planning a day trip or stopping by during a cross-country road trip, these tips can help maximize your visit of one of the most beautiful waterfalls on earth.
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Multnomah Falls is located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, just 30 miles east of downtown Portland, Oregon. Immersed in lush greenery and flanked by the Columbia River, it's a short and scenic journey from the city. You can easily reach the falls by following the Historic Columbia River Highway, with the journey offering breathtaking views of the Cascade Range. This serene location is a must-visit spot for those yearning to experience the unparalleled beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
How tall is Multnomah Falls?
Multnomah Falls stands as an impressive testament to nature's grandeur, boasting a total height of 620 feet. This makes it the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon, and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. Its cascading waters fall in two major steps: the upper falls measures 542 feet, and the lower falls is 69 feet, separated by a calm pool.
How to get to Multnomah Falls
Reaching Multnomah Falls is relatively straightforward. If you're coming from downtown Portland, take the I-84 E for the fastest route. You'll want to use Exit 31 (Multnomah Falls exit) which takes you directly into the parking area. For a more scenic route, consider taking the Historic Columbia River Highway. This will add a little extra time to your journey, but the stunning views of the Cascade Range are well worth it.
Portland, OR to Multnomah Falls: 30 mi | 32 min | Google Maps
Hood River, OR to Multnomah Falls: 32 mi | 30 min | Google Maps
Seattle, WA to Multnomah Falls: 195 mi | 2 hr 57 min | Google Maps
How far is Multnomah Falls from Portland, Oregon?
The distance from Portland, Oregon to Multnomah Falls is approximately 30 miles. If you're driving, the journey takes around 40-60 minutes, depending on traffic conditions and the route you choose. The fastest route is often via the I-84 E, though the Historic Columbia River Highway offers a more scenic journey. It's a fantastic day trip from the city, offering visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Does it cost money to go to Multnomah Falls?
Visiting Multnomah Falls is absolutely free of charge. Nature has graciously offered this spectacle for all to enjoy without burdening your wallet. However, if you choose to use the parking lot at the Multnomah Falls Lodge, you should be aware that a small parking fee may apply. Additionally, while enjoying the natural splendor of the falls is free, you might want to bring some money for optional expenses such as dining at the Multnomah Falls Lodge restaurant or shopping at the gift shop.
Do you need a permit for Multnomah Falls?
No, you do not need a permit to visit Multnomah Falls. The falls are open to the public and there is no entrance fee.
However (and this is a big however!) if you're planning to visit Multnomah Falls during peak season (Memorial through Labor Day), you'll need to reserved a timed entrance parking permit. Permits are reservable between the hours of 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. Do note that a parking permit does not guarantee a parking spot in the parking lot so you might need to circle or wait a while until someone else leaves and you can take their spot. For visitors who are willing to arrive before 9:00 am or after 6:00 pm during peak season, a permit will not be required.
Also, if you plan to engage in certain activities such as professional photography or hosting an event, you might need to obtain a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Always check the current rules and regulations prior to your visit to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Yes, Multnomah Falls is handicap accessible. The lower viewing platform, which provides an excellent view (in our opinion this is actually the best view) of the waterfall, is easily reached via a paved trail which is wheelchair accessible. However, do note that the trail to the upper part of the falls is not wheelchair accessible due to its steep and uneven surfaces. The Multnomah Falls Lodge also has accessible restrooms and an elevator for easy access to all floors. The parking lot has designated handicap parking spaces available.
Yes, dogs are indeed welcome at Multnomah Falls. However, they must be kept on a leash at all times to ensure the safety and comfort of all visitors. It's important to remember to clean up after your furry friends and respect the natural surroundings. Please note that pets are not allowed inside the buildings including the Multnomah Falls Lodge, but there are outdoor patio areas where you and your pet can rest. This makes Multnomah Falls a great destination for the whole family, including your four-legged members.
How long is the Multnomah Falls hike?
The hike to the top of Multnomah Falls is a moderately challenging journey, but one that rewards its travelers with awe-inspiring views. The trail to the top measures approximately 2.6 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 700 feet. As you ascend the trail, you'll pass several key points of interest.
The first stop is the Benson Bridge, which can be reached through a paved trail from the base. Located at the base of the first tier, this historic bridge offers a fantastic close-up view of the falls and is only a 5-minute walk from the lodge.
From the Benson Bridge, the trail continues upward on a series of switchbacks leading to the top of the falls. This section of the trail is steep and can be a bit challenging, but rest spots and stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge are plentiful along the way.
The trail ends at an overlook that provides you with an aerial view of the falls and the surrounding landscape. This is the perfect spot to rest, have a picnic, and take stunning photos before retracing your steps back down the trail. Although the trail is open year-round, conditions can be slippery in wet or icy weather, so appropriate footwear is recommended.
For those seeking a longer hike, the Multnomah Falls trail connects to the Wahkeena Falls loop. This 5-mile loop trail offers an opportunity to see more of the gorge's stunning waterfalls and wildlife. Whether you choose the shorter trek to the top of Multnomah Falls or the longer Wahkeena Falls loop, the journey is sure to be a highlight of your Oregon experience.
Multnomah Falls is open 365 days a year, which means you can experience the grandeur of this natural spectacle on any day you like. However, it's important to note that extreme weather conditions, such as heavy snowfall or ice, might lead to temporary closures for the safety of visitors. Therefore, prior to your visit, especially during the winter months, it would be wise to check the current conditions and any alerts on the U.S. Forest Service website or contact the Multnomah Falls Visitor Center directly.
What months of year are the falls open?
12 months a year
What time do the falls open each day?
Multnomah Falls opens its arms to visitors round-the-clock. Yes, it's accessible 24 hours a day! That said, the Multnomah Falls Lodge, which houses the visitor center, gift shop, and restaurant, operates from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. So, whether you're an early bird catching the sunrise or a night owl chasing the moonlight, you can experience the mesmerizing beauty of the falls at any hour. Just remember, if you're planning a visit during the darker hours, safety should be your top priority. Always check weather conditions and trail status before heading out.
What nobody tells you about Multnomah Falls
Did you know that Multnomah Falls is right on the interstate? Nobody told me that! You can see and hear the interstate from the falls and vise versa. Every picture I had ever seen of Multnomah never included anything about a busy highway right next to it adding to the noise and crowds. But it's not all bad and here's what I mean...
Multnomah is one of the most (if not the most) accessible waterfall I've ever been to. Wheelchair users, strollers, small children, elderly, etc. are all able to walk right up to the best viewing point of the falls which is really incredible. Yes it's a bit noisy, but the sheer accessibility of the falls makes is a huge win in our opinions.
All in all, for any waterfall enthusiast, the experience of visiting Multnomah Falls is a must. With picturesque views, access to a variety of hikes and paths, and more, it’s an experience that should not be missed. Set aside several hours when you can take advantage of exploring the grounds to get the most out of a visit there. For those with mobility issues or health concerns, accommodations are available to make your trip enjoyable regardless. No matter the season--springtime brings with it an explosion of foliage and fall provides some breathtaking fall colors as far as the eye can see. Enjoy a meal at local restaurants nearby with your family before or after your journey and don’t forget to bring a dog if you’d like! Visiting Multnomah Falls is truly an enjoyable experience from top to bottom. So what are you waiting for? Visit Multnomah Falls in Oregon; you won’t regret it.
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We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!