Tag Archives: Hiking

Portland of Waterfalls

5 Can’t-Miss Cascades 30 Minutes from Portland

Wahkeena Falls, Oregon

Wahkeena Falls

As long-time New Yorkers we not only feel at home in lively and vibrant cities, we prefer them. And downtown Portland, Oregon, reminded us of the best of our hometown — only smaller and with more bicycles and way more waterfalls.

Okay, so the waterfalls aren’t really in downtown, but they might as well be. In the amount of time it takes a New York subway to travel from City Hall to the Metropolitan Museum of Art you can drive from Portland’s bustling city center to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and its more than 77 waterfalls.

And getting there couldn’t be easier. A 30-minute drive east on I-84 out of Portland brings you to Exit 22 and the Historic Columbia River Highway. Drive another winding and scenic six miles north to reach your first waterfall.

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Grand Canyon Civil War: North vs. South

Imperial Point, Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim, Landscape, Canyon

Imperial Point, Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim

We heard a lot about the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before arriving. Mostly we heard that it was better than the more popular South Rim. Remote, authentic, undeveloped, peaceful were all adjectives used as platitudes in describing the north. And they’re mostly true.

The North Rim is nearly a two hour drive from the nearest town, Fredonia, Arizona. Half of that drive is on a road only open several months per year. The nearest airport is 275 miles away by car in Flagstaff, AZ. It is not easy to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is why fewer people do. And yet the one reason we heard repeatedly mentioned to favor the North, smaller crowds, didn’t exactly pan out.

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A Crown Fit for a Continent

Glacier National Park Mountains Landscape

It is often called the “Crown of the Continent,” and for good reason too. With vaulting granite peaks soaring two miles high and ice carved valleys bejeweled by 762 lakes that sparkle like diamonds and sapphires in the mid-day sun, Glacier National Park is every bit a crown fit for a continent.

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The “Switzerland of America”

Ouray Colorado

From street level the majestic San Juan Mountains tower above Ouray, Colorado, in nearly every direction you look. It is no wonder the small town has taken to calling itself the “Switzerland of America.” We’ve yet to visit that European country, so we can’t comment on the similarities. What we can attest to, though, is the awesome natural beauty found everywhere in this corner of Southwestern Colorado.

We arrived in Ouray via the San Juan Skyway; a 233 mile scenic loop connecting several historic towns, including our last stop, Durango. Not wanting to drive the motor home over the mountain passes of the Million Dollar Highway, we took the Skyway’s longer western route, and are glad we did.

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Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Mummy Cave Ruins, Canyon de Chelly

Mummy Cave Ruins, Canyon de Chelly, AZ

After a couple of days at the breathtakingly large Grand Canyon, we were ready for something smaller and more intimate. If visiting the Grand is like going to a huge metropolis (complete with teeming sidewalks), Canyon de Chelly (“Canyon d’SHAY”) feels more like a quaint town. It is so cozy that you can explore the entire area in a single active day.

You access the bulk of Canyon de Chelly via two scenic drives along the North and South rims. You can visit all ten overlooks in about four hours. Budget more time if you want to while away an afternoon basking in the beautiful canyon scenery.

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