|The Dalles Mountain Ranch|
The Dalles Mountain Ranch is a sprawling working ranch that covers most of the Washington side, north slope of the Gorge from WA 12 highway to the crest of the Columbia Hills at 3000 feet, running from roughly The Dalles Dam to past Wishram. It as accessed from The Dalles Mountain Road, starting at WA 12 about 2 miles east if The Dalles bridge highway. The road starts out paved for a short distance, then becomes a good gravel road suitable for all cars, and ascends the Columbia Hills as an easterly climbing grade, past a winery, then the current ranch/caretaker house, then the old ranch complex, and then up and up presenting unbelievable vistas of the Columbia Hills, the Gorge, the Columbia River, Mount Hood, and the wheatfields of Oregon stretching from the river southward to the limit of vision.
The entire ranch was deeded to the state of Washington by the last owners, and is now a state park, accessed by cars and hiking trails. An early morning drive up to the crest is always interesting whatever the season, but it is in the springtime when the Golden Yarrow and the Lupine are blooming that it becomes something almost other-worldly. Each spring when I can see the colors from 12 miles away and start prowling for pictures I see more and more visitors, hikers and photographers, trying to capture, whether in memory or on film, the sublime. It now belongs to all of us, forever.
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