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King of Roads - Byway of the People

The Highway is a gateway to countless hours of wilderness. With 125 trailheads there are no shortage of adventure opportunities in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Historic Columbia River Highway is celebrated as engineering marvel and once you drive it you’ll see why. The road was specifically designed to take you to vista after vista as you drive.

The Historic Columbia River Highway is the premier destination for bikers in the Northwest. With over 60 miles of bikeable, low grade road it is a bikers paradise. 

Many people thought that it couldn’t be built. Yet today, despite destruction and disregard, the highway remains one of the greatest engineering marvels in the world. The King of Roads is in its 100th year, standing as a testament to the American spirit. In the largest National Scenic area in the nation, the King of Roads remains a piece of art, meant to be savored. Much like the finest works in the world, the Columbia River Highway moves and inspires.

Enjoy the spray of mist as you wind your way past countless waterfalls. Watch as friends stand together under lush green moss covered stone walls. Slow your car to a crawl as you wind past viewpoint after viewpoint edged in Italian-laid stone arches revealing vistas as old as time.

Designed to be taken slowly and enjoyed, but ultimately eclipsed by the straighter, faster, more commercially viable Interstate 84, the acclaimed King of Roads was left in a state of disrepair for years. Now on the one hundredth anniversary of its dedication, the road nears complete restoration. Take a step away from your busy life and enjoy. Explore a path where faster isn’t always better.

The view from the Vista House at the peak of Crown Point will take your breath away. It is one of the most photographed locations in Oregon, and surprisingly it was planned simply as an outhouse for the highway. Come look at its domed ceiling and stare up at its green opalized glass windows. With its marble steps and ornate stained glass windows it will be the most beautiful outhouse you’ll ever see. 

At 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is not only the nation’s second tallest waterfall, it is one of Oregon’s biggest attractions with around 3-million visitors a year. Take a short walk from the parking lot to the Multnomah Falls Lodge where you can dine in view of the waterfall. Walk up to the Benson Bridge and feel the cool mist on your skin. If you’re up for it, there is a mile long path up to the top of the waterfall. Stand at the top of the falls and look out over the highway to the mighty Columbia.

The King of Roads (Series 2W)
A documentary film about the building of the first scenic highway in America
By Daniel Hill

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Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future

Founded in 1968, the Troutdale Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to gathering and preserving information on the Troutdale and Columbia Gorge areas. The Barn Exhibit Hall, one of three of the Historical Society’s museums, is now open with the King of Roads ~ Byway of the People exhibit.

The Barn Museum was constructed through ten years of sweat, toil, and the perseverance of local volunteers, and is located conveniently near the start of the highway. The exhibit is the ideal entry point to your travels. Immerse yourself in the highway’s history with rare photographs and intriguing tales about the people who helped to build one of the greatest engineering marvels of the last century. Then learn about the road’s impact and legacy and the story of those who saved – and those who are restoring – it. Then you are ready to set off to make your own story.

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