White River Falls seems oddly out of place in the gently undulating foothills on the east side of the Cascades near the town of Maupin. The White River originates on Mount Hood some 40 miles upstream, gathering lots of smaller tributaries as it rolls downhill towards its confluence with the Deschutes River. By the time it reaches the Tygh Valley its a fairly substantial river. Tygh Valley happens to be where the river intersects the plateau-like flood basalts that layer practically all of eastern Oregon and the resulting two-stepped waterfall serves as a harsh transition from peaceful farmlands on one side to a twisting, geologically storied canyon on the other. Unfortunately, the falls being right in the middle of an agricultural area couldn't avoid being harnessed for use in some way or another, so much of the river is drawn off for irrigation. Fortunately some water will always descend the falls to meet requirements by the ODFW, but there is a big difference between seeing the 100-foot wide upper tier completely covered with thundering water and a narrow braid of water that vaguely resembles its winter counterpart when the temperatures rise.
- White River Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
- Known Alternate Names: Tygh Valley Falls, Middle White River Falls, Celestial Falls
The names White River Falls and Tygh Valley Falls both have about the same history of usage, but White River Falls generally wins out due to the fact that the park is named the same. A Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest cites each tier of this waterfall as individual waterfalls. Further, the lower tier is known among whitewater kayakers as Celestial Falls.
The falls are accessed within White River Falls State Park, located east of Tygh Valley between Maupin and The Dalles. Take Highway 197 south from The Dalles then turn east on Highway 216 (signed for White River Falls and Sherars Bridge). The park is found 4 miles from Highway 197. The trail leads downstream from the parking area to the bottom of the falls.