Enjoy stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge from Vista House near Portland.
Vista House is FREE to visit and is less than 40 minutes east of Portland. There's also an expresso bar, gift shop and restrooms, and plenty of historic photos to view.
Vista House has a breathtaking location on top of a 733-foot basalt promontory at Crown Point, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. It's part of the old 19-mile Historic Columbia River Highway that runs between Troutdale and Dodson, with key highlights like spectacular Multnomah Falls.
Ticket Reservations: Please note that a new Timed Vehicle Access Permit is being introduced from late May through early September, to drive the Historic Columbia River Highway. In addition, timed ticket reservations are sometimes required to visit Multnomah Falls in busier months from June to Sept.
5 best things to do at Vista House.
1. See breathtaking vistas of the Columbia Gorge from the observation deck.
Walk up to the second floor circular observation deck for incredible views of the Columbia River Gorge from this 733 foot promontory.
It can get pretty windy up here, even in summer, so bring a warm jacket and hat. Vista House closes if winds reach over 50 MPH, so always check hours in advance. It's not unusual for winds to reach up to 100 MPH here in winter.
2. Step inside the magnificent ground floor rotunda.
Look up at the dramatic, domed ceiling of the elegant main floor rotunda of Vista House. No expense was spared during the construction of this octagonal, art nouveau building, with opulent marble floors and decadent stained glass windows. The original budget was set at $10,000 in 1918, but blew out to $100,000.
Vista House was described as a "temple to the natural beauty of the gorge" by architect Edgar Lazarus.
3. Pick up a coffee, ice-cream or snack at the expresso bar.
4. Go to the lower level to see the historic photos and gift shop.
The gift shops sells northwestern themed merchandise reflecting the flora and fauna and Native American history of the Columbia River Gorge.
5. Visit stunning waterfalls along the 19-mile Historic Highway.
Combine a trip to Vista House with a drive along the 19-mile Historic Highway between Troutdale and Dodson.
The scenic highway was built between 1913-1922 for wealthy visitors on motoring trips, and travels through thick forest, past stunning waterfalls, and along historic viaducts and tunnels. Vista House was originally constructed as an upscale rest-stop for these visitors, designed by Portland Architect Edgar Lazarus between 1916-17.
Modern Interstate 84 runs parallel to the historic highway along the riverfront, but is a straight road that lacks the charm of the winding historic road. Take the modern highway if you need to get between point A to B quickly, but don't want a scenic route.
Multnomah Falls is one of the major attractions along the historic highway, however due to traffic congestion, Timed Ticket Reservations are sometimes required from May through September.