Ruth & I began our trip to Bend and beyond like we had so many times before. We went east on Washington State Route 14 and crossed the Bridge of the Gods at the town of Cascade Locks just east of the Bonneville Dam. We have always liked to avoid Portland’s section of I-84 especially at rush hours by doing this. Roads get very congested near the 2 bridges over the Columbia River in Portland in the morning and late afternoon.
It costs 2 dollars to cross the Bridge of the Gods now, but it’s worth it to connect to I-84 and drive east to Hood River where you can use Highway 281 to go south to Highway 26. You get some some decent views of Mount Hood’s less seen eastern side by doing this. We are not the only couple that has discovered this. The Bridge of the Gods gets 1.6 million crossers per year, and the next bridge up the Columbia, a very dammed river, is at Hood River and also costs $2 to cross. Having this bridge here is an economic boon for both Washington and Oregon, for now.
The Bridge of the Gods is about 40 miles east of Portland and 4 miles beyond the Bonneville Dam. This old bridge crossing will celebrate its 100th birthday in 5 years and has a rich history. There was once a natural land bridge here where the Bridge of the Gods is now. Native Americans could cross the Columbia River without getting their feet wet because the land bridge made it possible for the sure-footed to cross the river easily. The land bridge collapsed around 1690 in an earthquake that created rapids. A bridge that was about 2,000 feet long was finally built across the Columbia where it narrows here. When the Bonneville Dam was built, it became necessary to raise the bridge deck. This took 2 years. Before that Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis under the existing bridge.
People like to climb Beacon Rock that was mentioned in the Lewis and Clark logs and now in a state park on the Washington side, and then they cross this bridge, go toward Portland, and stop at Multnomah Falls. This entertains many visitors to the area as well as the regulars. But the new activity is to stay on Highway 14 on the Washington side and go to Skamania Lodge. This popular retreat and convention magnet has installed 6 treehouses that can be rented for the night. Ruth and our daughter recently stayed in one of the treehouses and really enjoyed the experience. According to the internet, this costs about $600-$1,000 per night and varies with the season and number of people staying overnight. It’s necessary to book this treat far in advance of any stay as it is very popular. Skamania Lodge is just west of the town of Stevenson on the Washington State side of the Columbia.
Bridge of the Gods has been a movie location. It was featured in a scene in the first Twilight film and appeared again In Wild. The final scene of this 2nd movie that starred Reese Witherspoon and was based on a best-selling book about a woman dealing with grief was shot on this bridge. The photos that accompany this essay were taken there recently but do not do justice to this scenic bridge. There was road construction that day and I could not get a better view of it from below.