Multnomah Falls by Car: Your Complete Guide

Multnomah Falls in Oregon is a popular tourist attraction in the Columbia River Canyon. This is the highest natural waterfall in the state: its upper level reaches the height of about 165 meters, while the lower level is 21 meters high. Feed by groundwater and precipitation, it doesn’t dry out in summer and doesn’t freeze with the onset of cold weather. Therefore, it’s a great place to visit at any time of the year. 

Multnomah Falls is located 35 miles from Portland, and one of the great ways to get to it is to rent a car. You can book a pickup truck rental Portland and hit the road as soon as you arrive at the local airport. The large cargo compartment of the pickup truck will allow you to accommodate all your belongings and equipment. 

Multnomah Falls is a suitable weekend getaway, and if you want to visit soon, you need some important things. How to get to the waterfall, where to go, and what to do? Read on to be fully informed…

Why visit Multnomah Falls?

You have at least 3 reasons. After all, it occupies a leading position in the following travel ratings: 

  1. It’s one of the five tallest U.S. falls. 
  2. It’s among the most visited natural attractions in Oregon. More than 2 million people come to see it every year. 
  3. It’s located in a unique canyon with about 90 other waterfalls. 

Multnomah is beautiful at any time of the year. Due to the melting of snow in the spring, you can see the maximum high water in it. In addition, wildflowers around the hiking trails look very beautiful. 

In summer Multnomah is particularly impressive with its natural surroundings, so it’s always crowded at this time of year. Arrive as early as possible in the morning to find a parking spot and enjoy the scenery. 

In autumn on weekdays, you can walk along the paths without even meeting almost anyone. If you visit the falls in October or November, look out for maples, as their beautiful foliage turns bright red and yellow. There’s minimal water flow in Multnomah during that time. 

In winter, it is not always possible to get here due to the weather, but if you succeed, you will see snow-covered mountains and a live stream of water. It all looks very nice.

Where to find observation decks and hiking trails?

You can admire the Multnomah from different observation points. We recommend visiting all of them. The first observation deck is located at the foot of the waterfall. There’s a Multnomah Falls Lodge restaurant with a banquet hall and a panoramic view from its terrace. You will also find a small snack bar, souvenir shops, and an information center. 

The lower platform gives rise to hiking trails leading to scenic surroundings. You can obtain free maps at the ‘Friends of Multnomah Falls’ staff.  Keep in mind that hiking is unsafe in rainy weather as the rocks become slippery. 

From the lower platform, along a well-groomed wide alley, you can climb to the Benson Lookout Bridge to see the streams of water up close. It’s located between the lower and upper stages. The path is safe for children as it has fences. You can see Multnomah, the road, the lower platform, and the parking lot from the bridge. It will take some effort to reach the upper observation deck, as the trail is narrow and rather steep.

However, you’ll get incredible bird’s eye views of the Columbia River in the end. You can walk to the place where the river falls off the cliff to look down. If you have comfortable shoes and adequate physical fitness, try going further upstream. Trails in the area will lead you to other waterfalls such as Little Multnomah.

How to get to Multnomah Falls by car?

Multnomah is located 30 miles away from Portland, directly between the small communities of Corbett and Dodson. This makes car rental a quick and easy way of reaching it. The road passes very close to Multnomah, so it’s easy to find it. There’s a beautiful view right from the parking lot. 

Then you will need to go through the pedestrian tunnel under the highway. On the way to the waterfall, you will see a railway bridge with freight trains periodically running across it. 

How to reach Multnomah from Portland? The quickest route is the Interstate-84. Take exit 31 and enter the parking lot – the whole trip will take you about 30 minutes. However, experienced road travelers recommend several scenic routes: 

  • From Portland, take I-84, and then take exit 28. On the way, you can see other waterfalls, stop and walk near them. Travel time will take 45 minutes, excluding stops. 
  • The most beautiful, but also the longest route to Multnomah will take about an hour. Take the Troutdale exit off I-84 and follow signs to take the old Columbia River Hwy. From here you will have spectacular views of the gorge, Mount Hood, and several other falls. 

The parking lot near Multnomah is quite large thus sometimes there’s not enough space for everyone. You can’t stop on the highway but will have to drive further in search of a safe place to leave your car. So, try to arrive at the falls early due to the potential parking difficulties during the high season.

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