Woodland game, including elk, deer, and smaller mammals, offered a change to the steady diet of fish, as well as hides for many uses. But it was the annual fall harvest of huckleberries that lured the natives away from the banks of the river and up into the mountains. Like salmon fishing, the huckleberry harvest is a cultural tradition that continues to this day.
There’s no better place to reflect on the Corps’ first encounter with the people and bounty of the Pacific Northwest than the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, managed by the Forest Service. Designated by Congress in 1986, this national scenic area was created to protect and enhance the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the gorge, while encouraging economic development. There are more than a hundred miles of trail to hike, spectacular waterfalls to explore, an historic highway to travel, and, for the adventurous, wind and waves to ride in one of the world’s most famous windsurfing destinations.
Start with a visit to the Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles, which features exhibits on geology, natural history and early explorers. Drive the spectacular, winding Historic Columbia River Highway, dedicated in 1916 and recently designated as an All American Road for its intricate stonework and graceful bridges. Survey the 4,000-foot-deep, 80-mile long basalt gorge from the Vista House at Crown Point, one of the most famous views in Oregon.Then stand in the mist of Multnomah Falls, the second highest waterfall in the United States at 620 feet, and hear the force of life-giving water.