Monthly Archives: December 2013

Escape to Vista House!

The holiday season is fully upon us.  Shopping, traveling, cooking, eating, working, rushing, rushing, rushing, repeat.  It seems to happen every year no matter how we plan.  The holidays are simply busy.  But even amidst the frenzy, there are moments that make us pause and reflect.  Watching the tutu-clad toddler twirling down the aisle of the store.  Finding the perfect gift for a loved one.  Listening to carolers sing songs from our childhood.  Catching a whiff of a favorite holiday food.  Coming upon a breathtaking view . . .

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Vista House from Portland Women’s Forum.

This morning, one of the rangers swung up the Historic Columbia River Highway for the daily run and took these fantastic photos of Vista House.  “It’s sunny up there!” she exclaimed.  We all stood in silence, admiring the scene captured on her smartphone:  Clouds swirling around the basalt prominence of Crown Point, the tip of Vista House rising just above, sun reflecting off the green and amber opalescent glass windows.  We’ve all visited Portland Women’s Forum enough to be able to transport ourselves to the very spot where the photo was taken.  We could imagine the 3″ x 2″ screen filling our view.  We paused and, for a moment, soaked in the stunning beauty of the Gorge.

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The view from above changes the tone of a gray, foggy Oregon day.

So, this holiday season, we wish you all a moment or two like this.  A flash of the magic that is the meaning of the times.  And, if you find that the opportunity doesn’t find you, go find it!

NOTE:  Although our campgrounds are closed for the season, our parks and trails are open.  In the west end of the Gorge, restrooms can be found at the following Oregon State Parks:  Rooster Rock, Lewis and Clark, Dabney, Latourell, Bridal Veil, and Dalton Point.  Vista House will be open this winter on weekends, weather permitting; closed on holidays and weekdays.

Safe travels and happy holidays from all of us in the Columbia River Gorge!

Winter in the Wonderland


Mirror Lake at Rooster Rock is nearly frozen over. If you’re in the Gorge, bundle up and keep an eye out for frozen waterfalls!

Well, winter has arrived.  I know for most, this is a reason for concern.  Temperatures are dropping, winds are picking up, visibility is low, and roads are getting slick.  It is the first snow of the season; and it’s a good day to stay home with a book, a blanket, and a hot drink.  And to check extreme conditions from the safe comfort of home.

Here’s what it’s looking like at the west end of the Columbia River Gorge:

It is windy.  And cold.

As of 8:27 AM, temperatures at Vista House on Crown Point were +1 degree Fahrenheit with the wind chill.  That wind was gusting up to 53 miles per hour.  Interested in seeing this data for yourself?  Check out our NOAA Weather Conditions at Crown Point:


Snow makes for Class A wildlife tracking!

It is snowing.

What was flurries on I-205 in Portland is turning into snow on I-84 heading east.  It’s one of those days where an unexpected gust can slide you sideways a bit, even if you’re only going 35 mph.

It’s also freezing.

And has been for days.  Yesterday, the Tundra Swans were feeding in the center of Mirror Lake at Rooster Rock, rumps up in the air.  Today, they were ice skating.  Joining them in the performance were:

  • Hooded Merganser
  • Mallard
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Bufflehead
  • Song Sparrow
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Steller’s Jay
  • Black-capped Chickadee

Tundra Swans call Mirror Lake home in the fall and winter seasons. With a camera up to the binoculars, you can just make them out!

Winter is a time of subtle beauty in the Gorge.  If you want to see it for yourself, just come prepared for extreme winter conditions.  Check the weather and the roads, bundle up, pack a little extra of everything, and play it safe.  If, like today, it’s unsafe to drive, wait a day or two.  The Gorge will still be here, waiting with a windy embrace.