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February 17, 2015 at 9:51 AM

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Northwest Wanderings | Scenes from a journey through our region


Multnomah Falls in the Columbia Gorge east of Portland, Oregon rises in two steps 620-feet. That's 15-feet taller than the Space Needle.

The water from Multnomah Falls comes crashing down 620 feet, a story-and-a-half taller than the Space Needle.

But you only need an umbrella if it's raining.

It's the most visited natural site in Oregon, according to the U.S. Forest Service center at the falls, with more than 2 ½ million people arriving annually, largely because it's less than an hour east of Portland in the Columbia Gorge.


A visitor to the Benson Bridge waves to a friend below to have his photo taken at Multnomah Falls.

There's a paved quarter-mile trail to the century-old Benson Bridge, with a view of the upper pool.

The falls flow year-round, fed by underground springs and snowpack runoff.

There's the continual, dramatic sound of the plunging waters, but not quite loud enough to mask the sound of Interstate 84 traffic or frequent freight trains on the adjacent Union Pacific tracks.

Multnomah, a Chinook word, means close to the water.

In 1995, a schoolbus-sized boulder weighing 400 tons fell into the upper pool as a wedding party was taking photographs on the bridge. People on the bridge heard the crack as the 25-foot-wide slab broke away.


Multnomah Falls receives more than 2 1/2 million visitors a year making it Oregon's most visited "natural site."

It sent up a towering wave of water and gravel washing completely over the group.

Some feared they would be swept over the bridge. A few had broken bones; others, only minor injuries.

The boulder that was dislodged was so big that the waterfall's shape was changed by the slide.

-Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or

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