According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe.
The falls are arguably 'the granddaddy' of the 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. At 620 feet, it is named in virtually every World Book and Almanac under the "tallest waterfalls of the world" section. Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest with more than 2 million stopping by each year to take in the views.
The site was recently impacted by Eagle Creek Fire, which began September 2, 2017 and led to evacuations of Multnomah Falls the night of September 4. Thanks to the efforts of firefighters, the lodge was saved from the fire but the surrounding site was badly burned and impacted by changes that the fire made on the local landscape.
With vegetation and moss on the steep slopes burned away, large boulders, falling trees, landslides, and rock fall were all observed on site, so mitigations such as a protective fence were put into place to reopen Multnomah Falls Lodge on November 29, 2017. However, visitors should be aware that many of the site’s trails and viewing areas remain inaccessible while the U.S. Forest Service continues to implement safety mitigations. Please check the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area recreation page for the latest conditions at the site. Fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain, the flow over the falls varies, but is usually highest during winter and spring. This is also one of the best places in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to study geology exposed by floods.
The complementing architecture around the falls, Benson Bridge and Multnomah Falls Lodge, are features that help make this waterfall special. In 1914, Simon Benson, a prominent businessman and owner of the falls at that time, erected the bridge which was crafted by Italian stone masons. Benson gave the 300 acre site to the City of Portland. In 1943, final ownership of the site and lodge was transferred to the Forest Service.
The Multnomah Falls Lodge was built in 1925 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Every type of rock found in the Columbia River Gorge is represented in the lodge structure. Inside the lower level of Multnomah Falls Lodge is a USDA Forest Service Information Center, a snack bar, and a gift shop. In the upper portion of the lodge is a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is also accessible by elevator. The lodge and viewing area are wheelchair accessible. Watch this video.
The visitor information area within the lodge is jointly staffed by Friends of Multnomah Falls and the U.S. Forest Service. Offerings include a free simple trail map and free brochures about Multnomah Falls in multiple languages. Books, detailed maps of the Columbia River Gorge & Pacific Northwest, and Northwest Forest Passes are also available for purchase.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 292,500 acres, running from the mouth of the Sandy River to the mouth of the Deschutes and spanning southern Washington and northern Oregon. The Gorge is unique in its natural and cultural history, as well as its designation as a National Scenic Area.
Amenities: Accessible flush toilets.
Visitor Center Operating Hours: Open seven days a week from 10 am-5 pm.
Reservations: Restaurant reservation are recommended on weekends and holidays.
Think safety: Make sure that pets are on a leash and in control at all times. Spray and mist can cause a cooler micro-climate within the falls viewing area so be sure to bring a sweater in summer or coat in winter. Please respect any closures in place.
Accessibility: Portions of the path leading to the lower falls are wheelchair accessible. There is an elevator to the restaurant.
Other info: A U.S. Forest Service Information Center is inside the lower level of the lodge. A brochure about the falls is available in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian. This is probably the only northwest trailhead with a coffee stand.