White River Falls, Oregon

White River Falls in mid-October 2013

Oregon has two halves. If you’ve ever visited Portland or traveled west toward the coast, you’re greeted with intensely green lush forests. It’s hard to escape the green. If you’ve traveled east from Portland, you’ll know that it suddenly becomes much drier, and far less green. That’s not to say that it’s any less beautiful, it’s just a completely different feel. It feels less “Pacific Coast”, and more desert West.

Even the waterfalls seem different in this drier half. White River Falls might be one of the widest waterfalls in Oregon (outside of Willamette Falls) that I’ve seen. Many of the others in the Columbia River Gorge and near the Central Cascades are much thinner. It’s difficult to tell how wide the falls are in photographs because in order to capture both drops, you’ll miss a portion of the upper falls that is blocked by trees and rock. (One the drops is also commonly known as Celestial Falls.)

It’s a stunning waterfall, especially with the fall colors. This was one of the nicest days I have experienced in Oregon, with the sun shining and blue skies throughout the day. With the sun shining, it was difficult to get photos at certain angles, but there were still more than enough vantage points to lead to some pretty good shots. Near the falls, you’ll also experience the history associated with the dam that existed at the falls at one point. There is an old building still below the base of the second drop that reminds us of the recent past. While this waterfall is somewhat isolated from others, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Directions:

  1. From The Dalles, head south on US-197 for 28 miles or so.
  2. Turn left onto OR-216, and head east for 4 miles.
  3. Turn right into the entrance to White River Falls State Park. There is limited parking, though on this beautiful Saturday, it still seemed more than abundant.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 75′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is White River Falls?

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