Thursday, September 13, 2007

Somewhere Near Dalton Falls

Dalton Falls


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Today's scenic adventure takes us to Dalton Falls, out in the Columbia Gorge yet again [map]. Or at least I think this is Dalton Falls. I could be wrong. It's a highly obscure waterfall that doesn't show up on most maps, and there's no road sign announcing it, even though its base is almost right next to the scenic highway. Oh, and did I mention the falls dry up in the summer? Thus driving out to go search for them isn't foolproof either. In short, what you're reading is what I've been able to piece together and deduce so far. Think of it as a progress report. I'm pretty sure I found the right place, or at least the immediate vicinity of the right place, but I always strive for accuracy here and I'd hate to get the facts wrong. So all I'm claiming right now is that I was somewhere near the falls, and "near" is a very flexible word, you know.

The map link above takes you to WikiMapia this time instead of the usual Google Map. WikiMapia be the only map on the interwebs that gives even a rough idea of where the falls are, and the only reason WikiMapia has them is because I added them. I figured out the location with the slick USGS Topo maps at BackCountryMaps. The USGS maps indicate the falls are at "roughly" 45.57088383381129 latitude, -122.14350700378418 longitude. ( don't know how many of those digits are actually significant.) Before anyone complains, yes, the box on the map includes the parking lot, and the lower cascade, but the main falls are just outside the box. I fat-fingered the box when I drew it and now I can't figure out how to resize the damn thing.

Dalton Falls

So here's essentially all the useful info I found on the net about Dalton Falls, and there isn't much of it:

  • The page about Dalton Falls at Waterfalls Northwest is the best source of info I've run across. I'd never even heard of them before running across this page.
  • Here's a fantastic photo of the falls. The same photographer has a large collection of nice waterfall photos here.

    I know I tend to apologize for the quality of photos here a lot. Sometimes I'm just being modest and I'm secretly kind of proud of them. But this time I really do have to apologize. How about we all agree today's photos serve a purely documentary purpose, since they aren't very artistic, or even all that visually interesting. And this is after going over them with GIMP, trying to mitigate various exposure and color issues and not always succeeding. You'd think it'd be really hard to take a third-rate photo of a frozen waterfall. In my defense, I'm pretty sure there was shivering involved. Taking a nice photo is great, but taking a mediocre photo really fast and getting back inside the warm toasty car is even better, or at I was quite certain it was at the time.
  • A great page about the Gorge, which includes pics of some "unnamed seasonal waterfalls" in the Gorge. I think some of them are of Dalton Falls, or at least of the place I've rightly or wrongly concluded is Dalton Falls. Others are of Mist Falls, and the falls near the Vista House (which I've seen called "Crown Point Falls" before -- here for example -- although I think it's an unofficial name.)
  • The falls get a quick mention in this excerpt from the 1954 book History of Wasco County, Oregon, by William H. McNeal. McNeal raves on and on about the Gorge.


    SHEPHERD'S DELL [sic] was called "the playground of the fairies!" Bridal Veil Falls has no comparison! Coopey and Dalton Falls would be outstanding in any place as would Eagle's Rest! Waukeena Falls and Multnomah Falls are internationally known! Simon Benson gave them to the state as a park! Multnomah Falls is called "the Queen of all American cataracts;" its drop is 870 feet! Some say, "its too beautiful to be real," others say, "a dream garden falls".
  • OregonWaterfalls.net has a mislabelled photo that's actually of nearby Mist Falls. I'm sure it's Mist Falls, because I've been there, and this is what it looks like. The confusion is understandable, since both falls are very, very obscure, and are just down the road from one another.

Dalton Falls

There's a gravel parking area at the falls. There's no sign saying what the parking is for, so in the summer you tend to get curious people stopping to look around and getting confused. When the falls aren't running you have some high mossy cliffs next to the scenic highway and that's about it. In my Mist Falls piece, I mentioned there was a larger parking lot a short distance west of the tiny one at Mist Falls, and I didn't know what it was for at the time. Then I saw the Waterfalls Northwest piece, and went back through the archives and found a few instances where I took pics of the falls (I think) without knowing they had a name. Or at least, looking back, I'm pretty sure I took the photos in the general vicinity of Dalton Falls. It's been a while, and I could be wrong in a couple of cases. They basically look right, though, so if I'm wrong, I'm not all that wrong.

Dalton Falls

Getting there is like getting to Mist Falls. If you're going east and get to Wahkeena Falls (or Mist Falls for that matter, if you can recognize it), you've gone too far east. If you're going west and see the Angels Rest trailhead parking lot, you're too far east. There's some sort of silver box containing railroad equipment at the parking lot, across the street from where the falls are. I don't know how common these boxes are, there may be others all over as far as I know -- so regard this as a necessary but not sufficient condition for finding the place. I'm afraid I didn't get a pic of the parking lot this time, but you might not need one. Either the falls are flowing, in which case you ought to be able to see 'em from the road, or they aren't flowing, in which case there's really no reason to stop at all, that I'm aware of.

Dalton Falls

As far as I know, the parking lot only gets you access to the base of the falls, which is practically right next to the road. I haven't heard of of any trails going further uphill. If they exist they'd have to be quite steep and thrilling, since you'd likely be hiking them in the winter or spring while the falls are flowing.

Dalton Falls

Dalton Falls

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