The King of Roads—Historic Columbia River Highway

The King of Roads—Historic Columbia River Highway

A title like the King of Roads sets up a lot of expectations. The Historic Columbia River Highway lives up to all of them.

That’s not the only accolade bestowed upon this 75-mile stretch between The Dalles and Troutdale, OR, though. It’s also designated a National Historic Landmark, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and an All-American Road.

What is it that makes the Columbia River Hwy so great?

I would say it’s a 1-2-3 combo of three separate but connected factors. The first is the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, which the road meanders through.

On one side, you have steep conifer-topped rock walls that occasionally give way to streams and waterfalls. On the other open the magnificent vistas over the Columbia River to Washington.

The second factor is the road’s historical significance. Columbia River Hwy, historically US 30, was the first paved road in Oregon, forming a crucial transport route along the equally important river.

Last—but definitely not least—the road is simply a fun ride. It was intentionally designed with sweeping switchbacks to avoid steep inclines.

This historically necessary engineering choice makes Columbia River Hwy an absolute hoot to ride on modern motorcycles. We should all thank its architect Samuel Lancaster for his design, even if he probably didn’t plan the road with bikes in mind.