Apr 192014
wildflowers along Dalles Mountain Road in Columbia Hills State Park, Washington.

Lupine and balsamroot, Columbia Hills State Park, with the Columbia River and Mount Hood in the distance.

Want to photograph wildflowers at their peak in the Columbia River Gorge? Now’s the time.

I’ve been wandering the Oregon side of The Gorge between Hood River and the Deschutes River the past few days, and just about all the regular known locations for wildflowers are looking very good right now.

In Hood River Valley, the apple trees in the orchards are covered with delicate white blossoms. The view from Panorama Point is quite striking with the trees in the lower valley looking frosted while Mount Hood still has a nice cap of snow. Orchards in the upper part of the valley will probably hit their peak in a week or so. Wander the backroads a bit with an eye to the north and you’ll find superb views of the orchards with majestic Mount Adams as a backdrop.

At The Nature Conservancy’s Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena Plateau, the balsamroot are absolutely gorgeous. I wouldn’t call it a carpet of color, but there are many areas with good, thick clumps of bright yellow blossoms in their prime. The lupine are just starting to show, so there is probably another couple of weeks of great conditions here for these showy favorites for landscape photography.

Further east, a short hike up river on the trails at Deschutes River State Recreation Area will lead to some nice views of lavendar lupine among the silvery sagebrush.

Over on the Washington side of the Gorge, the hills are alive. Not with the sound of music, but with a glorious carpet of bright yellow balsamroot and purple lupine just off Dalles Mountain Road in Columbia Hills State Park. Drive a little beyond the old ranch buildings for a stunning view across the fields of flowers to the Columbia River and distant Mount Hood.

Those of you who are really into wildflowers and macro photography will find several other species blooming in this area right now, and the bloom will continue through May, with peak times depending on location and elevation.

Are you heading to The Gorge soon for some wildflower photography? Let others know what you find in the Comments below, and if you know of someone who might be interested in photographing the flowers, please share this post via email or your favorite social network.

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  7 Responses to “Columbia River Gorge Wildflower Report”

  1. […] Greg Vaun’s blog has a new wildflower report at    Columbia River Gorge Wildflower Report | Wanders & Wonders […]

  2. Thanks for the update Greg, looks like you had the last good weather as this coming week looks cloudy and drizzly.

    • The weather was mostly good while I was there, but also quite a bit of variation. Weather can change rapidly in the eastern part of the Gorge especially, and anything but a constant downpour and high winds might work at Columbia Hills.

  3. Fascinating blog, Greg! Thanks for connecting with us on Google+! Keep up the great work and travel safe!

  4. As of April 3, 2015, everything is blooming and lovely in Columba Hills State Park, on the high hills above the ranch. Take a trip. It’s worth it. Nice blog.

    • Thanks for both the update and the compliment, Rudy. Your report is definitely in line with what I’ve been reading and seeing on various photo forums the past few days. Now is the time for wildflowers in the Gorge. Washingtons side peaking and Oregon side (McCall Preserve and Rowena crest area) soon to follow.

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