Image:Vistahouse.jpg, looking upstream into the gorge, past the Vista House, from Portland Women's Forum Viewpoint (Chanticleer_Point)]]
The '''Columbia River Gorge''' is a spectacular Canyon of the Columbia_River in the Pacific_Northwest of the United_States. Up to 4,000 feet (1300 m) deep, the canyon stretches for over 80 miles (130 km) as the river winds westward through the Cascade_Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south. The Columbia Gorge American_Viticultural_Area is located in both states. Extending roughly from the confluence of the Columbia with the Deschutes_River down to eastern reaches of the Portland_metropolitan_area, the gorge furnishes the only navigable route through the Cascades. In 1805, the route was used by the Lewis_and_Clark_expedition to reach the Pacific_Ocean. The gorge today holds federally protected status as a National_Scenic_Area_(United_States) and is a popular recreational destination. ==Description and history== Over the eons, the Columbia River has worn a deep gash into the volcanic rock of the Cascades, nearly down to sea level. The last major erosion occurred during the Missoula_Floods during the Ice_age approximately 13,000 years ago. The most recent geological event was the Bonneville_Slide in the 1700s, an event remembered in the local legends of the Native Americans as the Bridge of the Gods. Frequent rain nourishes a lush Rain_forest and replenishes the waters that cascade over the sheer Basalt cliffs. The western gorge is dominated by Conifer, Bigleaf_maple, Cottonwood, Oregon_ash, and Vine_maple. The eastern gorge is home to big-leaf maple and Oregon_white_oak. The wide range of elevation and precipitation in the gorge creates a diverse collection of Ecosystems from the Temperate_rain_forest at Oneonta_Gorge (with an average annual precipitation of 75 inches [1900 mm]) to the Celilo grasslands (with average annual precipitation 12 inches [300 mm]). A large variety of endemic Wildflowers thrives throughout the gorge. The gorge has supported human habitation for over 13,000 years. Evidence of the Folsom and Marmes people, who crossed the Bering_land_bridge from Asia, were found in archaeological digs. Excavations near Celilo_Falls, a few miles east of The Dalles, show humans have occupied this ideal Salmon-fishing site for more than 10,000 years. In addition to its natural beauty, the gorge also provides a critical transportation corridor and one of the most popular recreational locations in the Pacific Northwest. Atmospheric_pressure differentials east and west of the Cascades create a Wind_tunnel effect in the deep cut of the gorge, generating 35 mph (56 km/h) winds that make it one of the finest and best-known Windsurfing and Kiteboarding locations in the world. The gorge also contains the greatest concentration of Waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, with over 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the gorge alone. Many are along the Columbia_River_Highway, including the notable Multnomah_Falls, which, at 620 feet (188 m), is often claimed (erroneously) to be the second tallest ''year-round'' waterfall in the United_States. In November 1986, Congress recognized the unique beauty of the gorge by making it first U.S. National Scenic Area and establishing the Columbia_River_Gorge_Commission as part of an Interstate_compact. ==See also== *Beacon Rock *Bridal Veil Falls *Portland Women's Forum *Horsetail_Falls *Latourell_Falls *Oneonta_Gorge *Rooster_Rock *Shepperd's_Dell *Wahkeenah_Falls ==External links== *Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act *Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area *Columbia River Gorge Commission *Historic Columbia River Highway {{Oregon}} {{Washington}} {{Ice Age Floods}} Category:Columbia_River Category:Geography_of_Oregon Category:Landmarks_in_Oregon Category:Canyons_and_gorges_of_Oregon Category:Canyons_and_gorges_of_Washington Category:Wine_regions_of_the_United_States Category:Archaeological_sites_in_the_United_States Category:Valleys_of_the_United_States Category:National_Scenic_Areas De:Columbia_River_Gorge