(Excerpt from my travel journal in 2001 when I was on a 9-month road trip)
On the drive to the gorge the sky was a patchwork of clouds and hints of blue but not a single ray of sun. Paralleling I-84 and the Columbia River, but a whole lot more interesting, is the old scenic road. The road includes a mix of lookouts with stupendous views of the gorge and deep little hideaways with trails to waterfalls cascading down basalt ledges. I had a moment of deja-vu at the first viewpoint; the scene was similar to panoramas of the upper Hudson River. The play of light and shadow on the water and mountains reminded me of the landscape from the Frederick Church home outside of Hudson NY. Odd to be on the opposite coast in a totally different environment and be reminded of somewhere so close to home.
The similarities quickly disappeared. The walls of the gorge are sprinkled with waterfalls that cascaded in narrow ribbons from towering heights. I stopped at several, each a bit different and each awe-inspiring. The basalt walls have been sculpted by time and are a dramatic backdrop to the falls. Large patches of bright yellow lichen looked as though someone had spray painted them on. Lichen exists only in healthy environments. Based on the appearance of this lichen, this is a thriving environment.