Multnomah Falls are waterfalls located in the state of Oregon, United States. The Falls are part of Multnomah Creek, in the Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, and has on average, some 2 million visitors each year.
The Multnomah falls, as mentioned, are part of the Multnomah creek. The original source of the waterflow and the creek is an underground spring in Larch Mountain. The spring provides water all year round, but is also strengthened at times by mountain runoff, and snowmelt which also drains into the creek. Where the creek drops over the falls, the average flow rate is around 4.2 cubic meters per second.
The falls also have two drops in them, with a cumulative height of around 190 meters. This means they are the highest falls in the state of Oregon. The two steps of the falls are known as the upper falls, at 165 meters, and the lower falls, which is 21 meters. Between the two drops, there is a slope which crosses approximately 3 meters in elevation, making for the total height. The drops or steps in the rock which cause this waterfall effect are caused by patches of softer rock. In the case of Mutnomah, the soft rock is basalt, which is easily eroded by water. Because of this, the constant flow of the creek created depressions in the creek bed, which eventually dropped away in the softer areas to create the more obvious step-like effect.
Visiting The Falls
The height and beauty of the falls make it a popular destination for visitors from the state and across the nation and the world. Footpaths exist in the area, allowing for easy viewing and exploring of the area in and around the waterfall. A paved footpath, called Benson Footbridge, includes a 14 meter long pedestrian bridge that crosses the lower cascade of the fall. The bridge is roughly 33 meters above the water, and allows for impressive views of the creek and drop in the falls. This trail continues upwards to a viewpoint where visitors can witness the upper falls from above. Ultimately, the trail reaches an observation deck with a bird's eye view of the Columbia Gorge The Mark O. Hatfield Memorial Trail, give other vantage points of the gorge.
The falls can be visited and viewed year round, but the water flow does change with the seasons. Spring tends to have the strongest water flow as winter melt runs into the creek. On the other hand, in the coldest months, the falls have been known to freeze over, providing a beautiful icy sculpture-like appearance.
These impressive and beautiful falls provide an excellent view of the natural phenomena that are waterfalls. Whether visitors choose to witness the falls from below, or hike up the path to one of the various viewing points, the impression is a strong one. Both the falls themselves and the nearby Multnomah Falls Lodge were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, and have since been protected and maintained, so that future generations can continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the Columbia Gorge and its rivers and creeks.