Even though standing about 520 feet in height, making it one of the tallest year-round waterfalls in Oregon, Mist Falls isn't given the attention it deserves because of it's low stream flow and its unfortunate situation a mere mile away from Multnomah Falls, the tallest in Oregon. Though it may appear otherwise, Mist Falls does in fact flow year round - tiny little Mist Creek is fed by a small spring or two high up in its drainage, probably part of the same system which fuels nearby Wahkeena Creek. There is certainly more water coming down Mist Falls in the winter and spring months due to much more frequent precipitation, and often during the winter the double drops of 220 and 300 feet become very visually significant against the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge.
But because of the perceived seasonality, many don't consider Mist Falls to be a legitimate waterfall, or at least a significant waterfall, which is somewhat odd in the big picture considering there are much less significant waterfalls, both in height and volume, in the Northwest that have been given just as much attention. Such a stigma has also been compounded perhaps by the simple fact that there are essentially no roadside views of Mist Falls from the Historic Columbia River Highway as it passes Mist Creek - the only way for travelers to easily view the falls from outside the passing car is from the Benson State Park exit off of Interstate 84.
- Mist Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Mist Falls was named for its wispy form, spraying down the cliff into a fine mist, like that being thrown off a much larger waterfall. The falls were likely first seen by westerners on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and were clearly noted and described, but not named until some time later. The Mist Falls Hotel once stood near the foot of the falls and was a popular location during the heyday of the original Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway.
Located in the Multnomah Falls area of the Columbia Gorge. Mist Falls can be seen two ways. The easiest is from Benson State Park, just off of I-84, one mile west of Multnomah Falls (this exit is only accessible to eastbound traffic). After parking, walk back towards the freeway, and follow an old road which runs between the interstate and a large pond to where the entire falls can be seen. Most of the falls can be seen from one point or another along the shoulder of the exit ramp, but entire views (as seen above) can only be had from a little further down. The second option is to climb to the bottom of the falls from the Scenic Highway. There is a small pullout on the west side of Mist Creek, about 1/4 mile west of Wahkeena Falls, where a faint path leads steeply up to the bottom of the falls. Use caution if climbing to the base of the falls, the talus slope is extremely unstable.