Rowena Crest is synonymous with beautiful views of the Columbia River Gorge and an infamous hairpin turn that’s really incredible from above. It’s located near the small town of Mosier, between Hood River to the west and The Dalles to the east. From Portland, it’s about 1.5 hours.
The Columbia River Gorge is known for a few things, the most important being stunning waterfalls, once-in-a-lifetime hiking trails, and super scenic camping. The Rowena Crest Viewpoint is one of the best drive-up viewpoints that the Gorge has to offer. Keep reading to delve into a local’s tips for visiting and exploring Rowena Crest.
Details for Visiting Rowena Crest Oregon
Take I-84 from Portland until exit 69, where you’ll drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway for around 7 miles. You’ll see a sign up ahead marking the gorges Rowena Crest Viewpoint.
When to Go?
The viewpoint is open year-round! But if you want to hike the trail to Tom McCall Point, you’ll need to go between March and October. It’s closed from November 1st to the end of February.
What to Expect
The Rowena Crest Viewpoint is an absolutely beautiful location that's easily accessible by car. If you want to see more of what the area has to offer, you can take the Tom McCall Point Trail up to Mayer State Park. This nearly 5-mile hike only games around 1300 feet of elevation and will provide visitors with absolutely stunning views of both Oregon and Washington.
The Rowena Plateau trail is the beginning of what’s known as the Tom McCall Nature Preserve. There you’ll see stunning yellow-gold grass and, in the spring, vibrant wildflowers that are everywhere you look.
Permit: There is no permit needed to park at the trailhead or hike.
Dogs? Dogs are now allowed on the nature preserve.
Rowena Crest Wildflowers
Some of the many wildflowers you can see at Rowena Crest include yellow balsamroot and purple lupine. You might also see paintbrushes, daisies, aster, trillium, penstemon, and phlox.
Wildflowers in Tom McCall Preserve
Rowena Crest Hike via Tom McCall Trail
The trail starts at the Rowena Crest Viewpoint parking area. You can hardware around the parking lot, but, especially if it's a weekend, make sure to park pretty close together so that there's room for the mini visitors the park sees every day.
From the loop parking lot, head back towards the road before taking a left onto the trail. The trail is made of dirt and only gains elevation very steadily, except for a couple of steeper sections.
It’s pretty open at the beginning, so the trail is very easy to follow. You’ll make your way along very flat terrain, and among some really love bushland, until around 900 feet when you start heading uphill. There is a steep drop t the left that looks down over Highway 30.
Keep following the trail uphill as it switchbacks a few times, and you make your way into the Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena. You’ll hit McCall Point, the best turn-around spot, at 1,719 feet. If you look back the way you came (toward the river), you should be able to see Mt. Hood looming in the distance.
If you want, you can follow the trail another 1/2 mile or so until you hit private land before turning around.
Tom McCall Trail Opening and Closing
Be sure to check the seasonal and closing of the trail, though. The trail is closed every winter from November 1 to February 28th. We highly recommend hiking in April to see the wildflowers blooming along the trail!
There are other attractions near the Rowena Crest Viewpoint if you want to make a day of it. In fact, the entire Columbia River Gorge, which is accessed via either Highway 84 in Oregon or Highway 14 in Washington, is jammed full of spectacular outdoor attractions beloved by locals and tourists alike. We recommend checking out:
This is a less-commonly visited waterfall (if you’re a waterfall lover and want to stay away from the chaos of Multnomah Falls or Latourell Falls). It’s two-tiered and is accessed via a 1.75-mile hike with around 500 feet of elevation gain. It starts at the Wyeth Trailhead in Wyeth State Park.
This small Oregon State Park is a great place for camping and exploring the Columbia River Gorge. It has around 40 campsites to offer, including spots for tents and RVs, and is very conveniently located.
This small, often-overlooked regional park is a wonderful place to relax if you’re hoping to combine lake-based and river-based activities. It’s only 30 minutes from Portland.
Is Rowena Crest a hike?
There is a hike above Rowena Crest Viewpoint, but you don't need to hike it to see the view! There is still a really wonderful viewpoint that you can just drive up to see.
Is Tom McCall Preserve open?
Tom McCall Preserve is open from March 1st to October 31st every year. It's closed from November 1st to the last day of February.