Located just east of Portland, the Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful place for an elopement. With lush forests, a deep canyon, incredible vistas, and of course, endless waterfalls, it’s no surprise the Columbia River Gorge is as popular as it is. Here, the Columbia River flows mightily through the Cascade Mountains along a deep canyon surrounded by dense old-growth forest and rocky cliffs.
Home to over 90 waterfalls, the Columbia River Gorge is my go-to spot for epic waterfall elopements. If you’re looking for the perfect waterfall for your elopement, I highly recommend the waterfalls of the Gorge. I’ve included some of my favorite waterfall locations and some tips on when to elope, where to stay, and what to do while you’re there.
The 5 Best Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls for Your Oregon Elopement
Although there are so many waterfalls to choose from, these five are some of my favorite in the area:
There’s a reason Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s most popular waterfall. At 620 feet tall, this waterfall is the state’s tallest. It features two gorgeous cascades that flow year round. Due to its popularity, it can become quite crowded, particularly in the summer, so I definitely recommend eloping during midweek or early morning if you’re planning to elope that time of year.
Standing at an impressive 220 feet, Latourell Falls features a single cascade down a basalt cliff. This waterfall is one of the closest to Portland and can become quite crowded, but don’t let that deter you! To reach the falls, you’ll take an easy 2.4 mile round trip hike.
Wahkeena Falls and Fairy Falls
The three-tiered Wahkeena waterfall may not be the tallest, but it’s still absolutely breathtaking. Getting there requires a moderate hike up a series of switchbacks, but let me tell you it’s 100% worth it. Once at Wahkeena Falls, you can continue on to Fairy Falls, where water pours over a rocky cliff—a stunning backdrop for your Oregon waterfall elopement.
Horse Tail Falls
Located just off the historic Columbia River Highway, Horse Tail Falls drops 176 feet down into a beautiful pool of blue water. This fall is easy to access, but if you take a short hike beyond the base of the waterfall, you can explore Upper Horse Tail Falls and walk behind its cascading water.
Bridal Veil Falls
Another two-tired fall, Bridal Veil is a magical spot for an elopement. Its water runs over moss-covered rocks falling 120 feet into a pool below. To get to the falls, you only need to take a short hike. Although if you continue on for another half-mile further, you can observe the falls from an overlook that provides amazing views.
Tips for planning your Columbia River Gorge waterfall elopement
When to elope
The best time to elope in the Columbia River Gorge varies depending on your preferences. Do you prefer warm weather, fewer crowds, or all of the above?
If you’re looking for less crowds and mild weather, then your best option is spring, from March to May, or fall, from September to November. During these months, the weather is usually quite nice, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to mid-70s, and you can expect less people than you’d typically find during the summer months. But, be prepared for rain in the spring! This can still be a wonderful time to elope and you’ll get those moody Pacific Northwest vibes.
But if you can be flexible on the day or time of your elopement (early mornings and weekdays are usually best!), summer is definitely one of the best times to elope in the Columbia River Gorge. Although there are more tourists visiting this time of year, you’ll have the best chance for warm weather. In fact, it can even get pretty hot. Temperatures typically range from the mid-70s up into the mid-90s.
How to get there
One of the best parts about eloping in the Columbia River Gorge is how accessible it is from Portland. If you’re coming from out of town, you can fly into Portland International Airport (PDX). From the airport, it’s easy to rent a car and take the historic Columbia River Highway (Highway 30) east from Portland. The drive takes around 30-45 minutes, depending on where you’re going in the Gorge.
Where to stay
Known for its quirky and vibrant culture, Portland is an incredible place to stay for your Oregon elopement. There are so many delicious restaurants, cozy coffee shops, craft breweries, and fun sights to see while you’re there. Some of the places I always recommend checking out are Powell’s City of Books, Forest Park, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden. There’s also no shortage of places to stay, whether it’s a neighborhood Airbnb or a boutique hotel.
If you’re looking for a place to stay outside the city, Hood River is perfect if you’re wanting more of that small town feel. Situated in the Columbia River Gorge, you can find some charming hotels, cozy Airbnbs, and even some local campgrounds. While you’re here, I highly recommend exploring the Gorge’s food scene, breweries, orchards, and wineries.
Activities to do while you’re there
Eloping in the Columbia River Gorge means there are plenty of activities and places to explore. This scenic area has a wide variety of activities to choose from including:
- Hiking: The Columbia River Gorge offers tons of hiking trails, ranging from easy to moderate to challenging. Some of the most popular hikes include the Multnomah Falls Trail, Eagle Creek Trail, and Wahclella Falls Trail.
- Waterfalls: Aside from the waterfalls I mentioned above, the Columbia River Gorge is actually home to over 90 waterfalls! If you love waterfalls, there are plenty to explore.
- Scenic Drives: Take the 70-mile drive on the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway for stunning views of the Columbia River and the surrounding mountains. Along the way, you can stop at various viewpoints and spots like the Vista House and the Bonneville Dam.
- Wine Tasting: Well-known for its wineries and vineyards, there are several wineries in the Columbia River Gorge that offer tastings and tours. Two I would recommend are Mt. Hood Winery and Cathedral Ridge Winery.
- Windsurfing and Kiteboarding: The Columbia River Gorge is known for its windy conditions that make it perfect for windsurfing and kiteboarding. “The Hook” in Hood River is a protected cove that is the perfect spot for beginners to try their hand at these two sports.
- Biking: Along with lots of hiking routes, the Columbia River Gorge also offers tons of scenic bike routes, including the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail and the Hood River County Fruit Loop. If you’re unable to bring your own bike, it’s easy to rent one in the area.
- Rock Climbing: Another popular activity in the Columbia River Gorge is rock climbing. There are plenty of great spots for rock climbing including the iconic Beacon Rock. You’ll find several places in the area that offer climbing lessons and equipment rental.
If you’re dreaming of a waterfall elopement, Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge is the perfect place. With dozens of waterfalls, beautiful natural scenery, and plenty of outdoor activities, it’s hard to find a better place.