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Multnomah Falls Photography Tips & Guide

Multnomah Falls is undoubtedly an icon of the Pacific Northwest. It is a must-see place if you plan a road trip to Oregon and are a lover of nature landmarks. It is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and certainly one of the most beautiful in the United States. As fans of waterfalls, we have prepared a Practical Guide to visiting this place with Multnomah Falls Photography Tips. This is all you need to know before you visit the Columbia River Gorge.

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Multnomah Falls Photography Tips: a stunning cascade of water flowing down a rock among lush greenery, with a bridge suspended on the rocks halfway up the waterfall.

What is Multnomah Falls?

Multnomah Falls is the tallest and most accessible waterfall in Oregon, making it one of the state’s most visited natural landmarks and possibly one of the most photographed waterfalls in the U.S. It’s a truly magnificent two-drop cascade.

It’s located close to Portland, in the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge of Oregon State with Multnomah Falls is breathtaking. It’s worth staying in the area for more than one day. The Columbia River Gorge is a gigantic geologic feature that straddles the borders of Washington and Oregon State.

The Gorge is over 80 miles (130 km) long and up to 4000 feet (1200 m) deep. It’s home to fabulous waterfalls, epic hiking, and panoramic views. It’s a dream location for waterfall lovers.

If you are visiting Portland, visiting those waterfalls is a great idea, as it’s only 30 miles from the city. In this article, we show you why it’s worth adding those waterfalls to your Oregon road trip itinerary.

How tall is Multnomah Falls?

Multnomah Falls is 620 feet (189 m) high and is listed by the World Waterfall Database as the 156th tallest waterfall in the United States. Its structure is divided into two parts, spanning two tiers on basalt cliffs.

The falls drop in two major steps: an upper fall of 542 feet (165 m) and a lower fall of 69 feet (21 m), with a gradual 9-foot (3 m) elevation between the two.

What is the legend of Multnomah Falls?

According to Native American legend from the Multnomah tribe, the waterfall was formed after a young woman jumped from the cliff to sacrifice herself to the Great Spirit to save the Multnomah village from a plague. The Multnomah people were saved. Furthermore, after her death, water began to flow from above the cliff, creating the waterfall.

If you are a waterfalls fan, check out our detailed Guide to the Oregon Proxy Falls Hike with Photography Tips!

How to get to Multnomah Falls?

If you are a photographer and dream of taking great pictures of a waterfall, check out our tips below. Step by step, we suggest how to prepare for a trip on your own. But you can take an organized day trip from Portland if you wish.

My partner Chris and I drove to this waterfall independently, so we’ll show you how to get there and what to expect. All photos presented in this article are ours. To achieve this blurred water effect, be sure to pack a tripod and a raincoat. We were wet from the waterfall breeze! As photographers, we give you more photo hints later in the article.

Multnomah Falls Lodge

Multnomah Falls Lodge was built in 1925 to serve tourists who came to view the spectacular Columbia Gorge and its waterfalls. The historic structure was made of rocks found in the gorge in a “Cascadian” architectural style using native split fieldstone laid irregularly.

The lodge and footpaths were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Now, there is a gift shop, a restaurant, and a US Forest Service Information Center where trail maps can be found.

Is Multnomah Falls open now?

Yes, it’s open. Check details on the official website, as reservations are required in the high season from May 24 – September 5. Due to the popularity of this place, timed reservation tickets are required for the Benson Bridge.

Multnomah Falls is fed rainwater and snowmelt, making it a year-round attraction. The Benson Bridge is also open, but due to the changing situation, it is worth reading the official website before visiting.

The Multnomah Falls Lodge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and features a restaurant, snack bar, and gift shop, is also open.

A Timed Use Permit will be required daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. from May 24, 2024, through Sept. 2, 2024. Starting May 10, 2024, permits will be available online at www.recreation​.gov for a $2 transaction fee.

Multnomah Falls Tickets

Does it cost money to go to Multnomah Falls?

There is No Fee to visit Multnomah Falls. Pets are allowed at Multnomah Falls but must always be on a leash. But a Timed Use Permit is required in 2024, starting late May through mid-September.

Multnomah Falls Parking

The only parking area for the site is the Interstate 84 parking lot at Exit 31. Parking along the Historic Columbia River Highway by Multnomah Falls is prohibited. Check if you must have parking reservation tickets before arrival.

Multnomah Falls Directions

The waterfall is top-drawn in the Columbia Gorge and is accessible from the Historic Columbia River Highway and Interstate 84. Multnomah Falls is located in the Columbia River Gorge on Multnomah Creek, just 30 miles off Portland, east of Troutdale, between Corbett and Dodson.

Our Tip: Planning a visit to Portland? Check out our 3 days in Portland itinerary!

How do you get from Portland to Multnomah Falls?

It’s only 30-40 minutes of driving and 34 miles from Portland to Multnomah Falls Parking. You must take east on Interstate 84 to exit #31, Multnomah Falls.

However, if you prefer Scenic Drive, which takes about 1 hour, take I-84 eastbound to the Troutdale exit. Follow signs for the Scenic Loop drive. Follow the drive along the old Columbia River Highway.

During this driving, you can encounter fantastic views of the Columbia Gorge, Mount Hood, and other waterfalls before you get to the Multnomah Falls parking area.

Multnomah Falls Shuttle

Due to its popularity, it is worth considering taking a shuttle like the Columbia Gorge Express. It serves Portland, Cascade Locks, Hood River, and The Dalles. You must book a seat in advance.

How do you get from Eugene to Multnomah Falls?

It is about 139 miles and 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive from Eugene. The fastest road is I-5 N, and then from Portland, it is I-84 E.

How to Get from Sisters to Multnomah Falls?

From Sisters, it’s over a 3-hour drive and 165 miles via scenic US-26 W road.

If you travel from Sisters or plan to visit this charming town, check out our list of top things to do and see in Sisters.

Furthermore, if you have more time on the route from Sisters to Multnomah Falls, it is worth staying at the Mount Hood area at Timberline Lodge, The Shining movie location.

How do you get from Seattle to Multnomah Falls?

Seattle is approximately 195 miles and 3 hours 10 minutes driving if you take I-5 S. Check out our 3 Days Seattle Itinerary if you plan to visit this fabulous city!

PRO TIP: We always look for inspiration in books. Our favorite is Photographing Oregon. We have all the books in this series from different states and can honestly recommend them. It depicts the most beautiful places in Oregon, including hidden gems, many photo tips, information about reaching the place, the trail’s difficulties, etc. Beautifully issued with great inspirational photos.
As fans of waterfalls, we also use Hiking Waterfalls Oregon: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes. It features over 60 breathtaking waterfalls in Oregon. We still have many places on our bucket list from this book.

Multnomah Falls Multnomah Falls: a stunning cascade of water flowing down a rock among lush greenery, with a bridge suspended on the rocks halfway up the waterfall. There are people on the Benson Bridge.
Multnomah Falls: a stunning cascade of water flowing down a rock among lush greenery, with a Benson Bridge suspended on the rocks halfway up the waterfall. There is a person in red jacket on the bridge.

Multnomah Falls Weather

What is the best time to visit & photographing Multnomah Falls?

The waterfall is year-round. It does not dry up in the late summer. But it is worth avoiding the crowds, especially in times of a pandemic. Spray and mist cause a cooler micro-climate, so take a raincoat and warmer clothes even during summer.

  • In Winter, if the snow falls, you will have snowy rocks and ice drops.
  • In spring, rhododendrons bloom beautifully, providing a fabulous foreground.
  • In autumn, the leaves have yellow and red colors, making the place special too.
  • Peak flow is in late winter and spring when the water level increases flow and intensity.

Multnomah Falls Photography Tips – How to avoid crowds?

  • Be early in the morning, at about 6-7 a.m. The Sunrise is beautiful. Or be just before sunset, it should be less crowded too.
  • Avoid weekends and holidays when there are the most tourists. And if you can only come on holiday, come early in the morning.
  • If you can’t come early in the morning, consider a shuttle service in the high season.
  • The winter months are from November to February, with low tourist traffic. The waterfalls are still impressive; if the snow falls, you will have an exceptionally fairy-tale scenery.

More Multnomah Falls Photography Tips, which you will find in the last part of the article.

Multnomah Falls Lodging

You will find the largest selection of accommodations at great prices in Portland.
But if you want to spend the night in the closest area, then we sincerely recommend the Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn.

It is located in the heart of the Columbia River, which is definitely one of the most stunning vantage points in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. We would love to return to this hotel. Service is also great, and it offers all the facilities for demanding guests.

A silhouette of the author Agnes Stabinska from a very distance, from the base of the waterfall. Agnes is standing on the Benson Bridge, with the Multnomah Falls flowing down behind her, all around there are rocks and lush greenery and a water breeze.
the best Oregon waterfall: close-up view of Benson Bridge, around rocks and greenery.

Multnomah Falls Hike

How long does it take to hike to Multnomah Falls?

You don’t need to go hiking to see the waterfall, feel the mist of water on your face, and take spectacular photos of it. You will experience it all by walking just 5 minutes from the parking lot at the base of the waterfall. It’s only 0.2 miles to a scenic footbridge.

So, if you pass through and have little time, no hiking boots or rain protection for your camera, stay at the base of the waterfall and enjoy the view. You will learn more about taking photos in the Multnomah Falls Photography Tips.

Hike to Multnomah Falls Bridge

The Benson Bridge is a photogenic foot-crossing spaning of the second drop of the falls. The bridge is only a quarter-mile hike up. However, it gets slippery during winter due to freezing water droplets from the waterfall itself. Standing on the bridge is a great view of the top tier’s full 542-foot height and vantage point over the second tier’s 69-foot drop.

The Bridge is named for Simon Benson. He owned the falls in the early part of the 1900s. Benson financed Italian stonemasons to construct a bridge at the falls to allow visitors access in 1915. This businessman gave Multnomah Falls to the City of Portland before his death. The city transferred ownership to the USDA Forest Service.

It is worth hiking another mile up a very steep path from Benson Bridge to reach the top of the falls. It’s worth the effort because you can see a spectacular view of the Columbia Gorge from there.

The trail has steep drop-offs, and uneven or slick walking surfaces make it challenging, so take great hiking boots and trekking poles. It might be closed during bad weather conditions, so check if it’s open before you go.

If you follow signs just outside the lodge you can hike half of a mile to nearby Wahkeena Falls. It’s also a fabulous waterfall. The name Wahkeena means “most beautiful” in the Yakima language. It has 240 feet, but it’s also very photogenic. The steep one-mile trail leading from the base of the falls to the top is amazing.

Multnomah Falls Photography Tips

Take a Tripod and Remote Shutter Release

You will need a stable tripod with a proper head and remote shutter release. You need to use a longer exposure to make the water stand still and look beautiful in the picture. The best idea is to try a variety of exposure to different effects of the flowing water.

Use the polarizer filter to reduce reflections on the water and other surfaces. Some filters may warm up your scene a little bit. Early in the morning or closer to the evening is the best time to shoot some long exposure shots.

Use wide lens

The waterfall is tall and narrow, so a wide lens (we use 14-24 mm Nikkor and 16-35 Canon) will work best.
If you want to have the entire waterfall in the frame, you must crop vertically.

Take a photo of the Multnomah Falls Bridge

Take a close-up of the Multnomah Falls Bridge if you have short telelens, like 24-70 mm ( we use Canon 24-70 and Nikkor 24-70).

One of the best views is from the observatory, where you can see a piece of log on the pool under, overlooking two the two drops and the Benson Bridge.

If the area is full of people, you can use Zoom to shoot the bridge and the waterfalls right over the top of the heads.

Cover Your Photo Gear Against Getting Wet

It’s a very wet area, so if you don’t have waterproof photography gear, take a so-called camera rain cover or raincoat to protect your camera and lens. There is a lot of mist flying around.

Be prepared to clean your lens

It’s possible that your lens will get permanently wet, so don’t forget the cleaning cloth. Finally, after setting your scene, please gently clean your lens front element to make sure there are no drops on it before pressing the shutter release.

Step on the Benson Bridge to take a picture

If you are lucky and your visit falls on the reopening of the bridge, climb onto it. And take a picture. But remember that you will be completely wet, so take a long raincoat and good protection for your equipment.

The Best Guided Tours

The Columbia River area is gorgeous and worth exploring. It is great to consider guided tours to see the hidden gems of this spectacular area.

The most interesting tours are

  • Half-Day Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Tour. During a few hours of the scenic drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway, you will see 4 or 5 unique and breathtaking waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls. You will have several short walks through the old-growth forest. One of the stops is Historic Vista House, which allows for amazing photo opportunities.
  • Columbia Gorge Waterfalls 40-Minute Scenic Flight. You will fly over the world-famous Multnomah Falls, between the Gorge Canyon, and past Bonneville Dam.
the tallest waterfall in Oregon among greenery


  1. I’ve seen this beautiful waterfalls so many times but I don’t recall the name. I like waterfalls, so I will make sure to visit this falls that takes only 5 minutes walk from the parking. I wonder of they let dogs in a shuttle though.

  2. I have been to Portland twice but both the times was unable to visit Multnomah falls because the area was shut down due to the Columbia River Gorge forest fires. One day I hope I am able to visit again. Frankly i didn’t know it was such a shot hike to the foot bridge. No wonder it is so popular amongst non hikers too! Good thing you suggested visiting early, I can imagine how crowded the place gets. Those are some excellent tips Agnes and Chris! 

  3. This post brought back great memories of our first visit to the Columbia Gorge and Multnomah Falls.  That shot with the bridge is such an iconic pic!  Good to know it is open right now even if the view is from the bottom.  I think it might be magical to visit in the winter.

  4. Multnomah Falls is truly gorgeous. I first found out about this destination when we were planning a road trip, but never made it out there. I like that you also included some photography tips. It is always frustrating to get there and not be able to capture the photos you had envisioned. Tips are useful in setting the right expectations

  5. Wow! Multnomah Falls is so beautiful. This looks like something straight from a postcard. No wonder its one of the most photographed waterfalls. Happy to know that we can still visit despite the pandemic. The Benson Bridge will have to wait next time. 

  6. Multnomah Falls is definitely a stunning waterfall. I love the cloudy effect of the waterfall. I have never been to Oregon before and I have always had that in my list of places to visit. I will now ensure that I add this waterfall as part of my visit.

  7. OMG! It is incredibly beautiful. I always like to know the legends behind various places and the concept of a woman sacrificing herself is rivers, waterfalls etc are pretty common! Too bad Benson Bridge is closed but ofcourse Covid is worse! I can’t imagine the view from there…. Must be unbelievable surreal!!! Good to know that there’s a shuttle operating for those depending on public transport. Thanks for the excellent photography tips too.

  8. Well, Multnomah Falls look truly magnificent in the pictures. Benson Bridge is one photogenic bridge. I wish I could hike to the bridge. I am sure the real version of the waterfall would be incredible. Its shape in two drop cascade makes it look uber cool. I am glad its no fuss reaching the base and the views from there are so good. Also its heartening to know that one can visit it all round the year. I would love to check out the Columbia River area as well. 

  9. You mentioned the observatory for the view of the log at the base of the waterfall. I can’t seem to find that when I google observatory, is there any directions you can provide of it. Is it near the lower falls viewing platform? Thanks

  10. Love this post! – especially the photography tips. I never know how to get those stunning shots of a cascading waterfall

  11. I’ve seen some truly amazing waterfalls – for instance, Iguacu. However, the Multnomah Falls seem to be very impressive and majestic. I particularly like the bridge – it must be a great experience walking way up high in front of the crashing waters 😉

  12. I find that standing near a waterfall is extremely healing. Being on that bridge must be a fantastic experience. I hope I have the opportunity to visit there someday.

  13. I’ve seen this place all over social media and it looks amazing! Definitely a must visit, but I am surprised to hear about the cap on daily visitors? Is it covid related or do they always limit visitors? Anyway, it’s good to know, I’d probably plan to come on the earlier end of the opening hours regardless to beat the crowds.

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