One of the most dramatic road trips one can make in the United States is through the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River, the mightest river in the American West, originates in British Columbia but near its entry to the Pacific serves as a dividing line between Washington and Oregon State. This historic river route was traveled by the Lewis and Clark expedition over 200 years ago. The drive along the Gorge just to the east of Portland is breathtaking!
A favorite stopping point along the way on the Oregon side is Vista House, constructed on the Crown Point Promontory. Once called “Thor’s Heights,” Crown Point is a basalt rock formation created by volcanic lava and sculpted by the elements. The building was designed to encourage drivers to stop, get out and enjoy the view! Rest rooms were constructed for that purpose at a time when such facilities were not common on the road. And for almost a century, this grand building and the views from its vantage point 733 ft (223 m) above the Columbia River have been enjoyed by millions.
Crown Point was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1971 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It’s protected as a state park property, part of the Crown Point State Scenic Corridor.