A Three-fer Saturday Up The Gorge

Gorge of Wonders

Multnomah Falls is the crown jewel of waterfalls along Historic Columbia River Highway.
(Photo by Blake Verdoorn on Unsplash)

The Columbia Gorge is stupefying in its beauty! The mouth of the Gorge is defined by Mount Hood on the Oregon side, with a breathtaking array of waterfalls walkable in flipflops just off I-84. Sadly, this is as adventurous as many Portlanders get.

It’s a beautiful sunny Saturday before Easter, I pack up the picnic basket, and we set out to shake off our cabin fever. We know there will be a solid throng all along Historic Columbia River Highway doing the same thing. Sure enough, the backup at Multnomah Falls is crazy. But traffic lightens just past, and the Gorge holds many wonders.

This is one of my favorite outings, a Three-Fer! We blow past the crowds, and head east about 70 miles more. Then we turn north, and go a half-mile across (and 75 feet above) the Columbia on the Sam Hill Bridge. Have I mentioned my fear of bridges?

But it’s worth it. We’re in Goldendale, Washington to visit the Stonehenge Memorial.

Monumental Afternoon

Just chillin’ with a 100-year-old replica of a 5,000-year-old monument!

This full-scale replica of Stonehenge dramatically overlooks the mighty Columbia River. The eagle-eyed traveling I-84 may spot it on a good day. This Stonehenge was dedicated in 1918 by Sam Hill as a memorial honoring the servicemen of Klickitat County killed in WW1. (Yes, he’s the same Sam Hill the bridge is named for, and the namesake of “what the Sam Hill!”)

Now I can say I have visited two Stonehenges, including the original!

At this Stonehenge, there are no ropes holding you back. You can wander through the inside of the monument and get an up-close-and-personal look.

The names of the fallen servicemen inspire you to pause and reflect. Normally this is a crowded attraction, but we have the place nearly to ourselves for a peaceful afternoon.

Balsamroot grows wild in the Columbia Gorge. The Columbia River is in the background with the desert part of Oregon beyond.

The monument is perched atop a hill beginning to bloom with bright yellow balsamroot flowers. It’s actually a bit late in the season for these flowers, but they were delayed because of all of the winter storms. No matter, they’re blooming just in time for us!

Can you find the weaselly thing in this picture?

We take our time and find a relaxing spot to sit down and enjoy the view of the river below. We even get a glimpse of a weasel-like creature pouncing through the balsam flowers!

That bridge, what the Sam Hill!

Merrily Visting Maryhill

Next stop, Maryhill Winery, less than five miles down the road. We caught a concert there in the fall, and now one of our friends is on staff in the tasting room. So we kinda have to (wink-nudge) drop-in to see her, sip some wine, and snap a selfie!

The tasting room at Maryhill is impressive! It’s all done up in 3,000 square feet of beautiful wood with an spectacular view of the Gorge. There’s a long bar, seating near the windows, an outdoor patio area overlooking their concert venue amphitheater (Tears for Fears rocked here!), and a sizeable area filled with winery finery: gewgaws, trinkets, etc.

The view of Maryhill’s amphitheater from the tasting room patio.

Just as impressive as the room is Maryhill’s menu of wines! And it is even better to have a personalized tasting experience from our friend. This is my first introduction to Grenache. We learn it originates in Spain, and is the most widely-planted red wine grape in the world. But it ripens late, and needs hot, dry conditions, so it’s not right for the Willamette Valley climate… but perfect for Goldendale, Washington!

As of today, I am still holding tightly to a bottle of Maryhill Grenache for a special occasion. Oops, Nope. Sorry, we drank it!

Moseyin’ Home

After our tasting, we head west on Washington Highway 14. We still have a picnic basket, and need to find someplace scenic to enjoy our picnic dinner.

We find Horsethief Park in Lyle, Washington. This 3,300 acre park on the Columbia includes Horsethief Lake, basalt cliffs, and even Native American Petroglyphs!

A picnic always tastes better with a nice view!

Our picnic spot is perfect, right on Horsethief Lake. I open the basket to reveal the feast: sandwiches with turkey breast, salami, tomatoes, and avocados all layered on whole wheat rolls, plus smoked salmon, prosciutto-and-mozzarella deli rolls, and a bottle of Chateau St Michelle Riesling for the Traveling Wine Glasses.


Golden Hour begins as we sit down to our feast. The oblique lighting on the lake, Columbia River, hills, and nearby basalt cliffs is absolutely gorgeous this evening! The shadows growing longer reveal the texture of the terrain. Horsethief Bluff is bathed in the final light of the day, the display doubled by the reflection in the lake with nary a ripple.

This is the perfect setting for sipping our crisp white wine. There aren’t really words to truly describe the beauty and peacefulness of the sunset, and how unaware we are of the big changes coming in our lives.

This spot will definitely have a big spot in our hearts.


  1. What a lovely day. Tantalizing narrative and photos…putting a copy in my file of get away ideas!

    • Thank you Kim. Keeping a file is a great idea!