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Crown Point

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Vista House at Crown Point (bobcat)
Looking towards Crown Point and the Vista House from near Chanticleer Point (bobcat)


Crown Point is a cliff top viewpoint 730 feet above Mirror Lake and the Columbia River. The basalts here are from the Wanapum flow of 14.5 million years ago: this lava river essentially filled an old channel of the Columbia River. The pinnacle of Rooster Rock far below is the remains of a landslide that peeled off Crown Point's cliff face. Palisade Falls, visible from the bottomland below, waxes and wanes with rain volume: it can roar spectacularly in the wet season and yet be a wind-blown wisp in the summer. Views extend over 12 miles east one way and the other way to the western portal of the Gorge.

Before the freeway was constructed, all motorists had to travel this section of the Columbia River Gorge via the Columbia River Highway, considered at the time one of the great scenic highways of the world. The highway got its official dedication in 1916 at Crown Point. The Vista House at Crown Point was completed in 1918. It is built of gray sandstone with Alaskan marble floors. Although its purpose was to serve as a "comfort station" at the highest viewpoint on the highway, architect Edward Lazarus designed the building to look like a temple in honor of the "natural beauty" of the Columbia River Gorge. A costly renovation of the Vista House was completed in 2006.

Previous to construction of the highway, Crown Point was known as "Thor's Crown."

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