White River Falls (Tygh Valley Falls)

Tygh Valley / The Dalles, Oregon, USA

About White River Falls (Tygh Valley Falls)

Hiking Distance: 1/2 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2009-03-29
Date last visited: 2009-03-29

Waterfall Latitude: 45.24259
Waterfall Longitude: -121.09707

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White River Falls (also known as Tygh Valley Falls) was a gorgeous and powerful multi-tiered waterfall within the rainshadowed Tygh Valley southeast of Mt Hood.

Contrasting the Columbia River Gorge, we noticed that this waterfall sat within a climate zone that was noticeably drier given the presence of more brown grass and less moss in these parts.

White_River_Falls_016_03292009 - White River Falls or Tygh Valley Falls
White River Falls or Tygh Valley Falls

That alone made the trip out here stand out since to this point, we had been exposed to the dominance of waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge and Silver Falls State Park.

I often wondered whether this waterfall got its claim to fame from whitewater rafting and kayaking enthusiasts.

I recalled seeing in the literature of some Webshots photos of such activities where the photo made it seem like they were doing their rafting between two waterfalls.

But after having been there, we could see that the Lower Whitewater Falls (beneath Celestial Falls) was merely a small drop that could easily be run without the long dropoff that the misleading Webshots photo seemed to suggest.

Experiencing White River Falls (Tygh Valley Falls)

White_River_Falls_010_03292009 - The segmented uppermost drops of the White River Falls or Tygh Valley Falls. Notice the landscape in the background seemed to suggest some heritage of volcanism.
The segmented uppermost drops of the White River Falls or Tygh Valley Falls. Notice the landscape in the background seemed to suggest some heritage of volcanism.

From the car park (see directions below), we only had to walk a few paces before reaching a viewing area.

At this vantage point, we were only able to see the uppermost tier of the waterfall, which plunged in multiple side-by-side segments.

Walking back in the other direction in the downstream direction, we noticed a path leading further down the gorge past a footbridge that ultimately afforded us access to a viewpoint.

From this viewpoint, we could look directly at the middle tiers of the White River Falls in addition to the uppermost tiers.

The view from this area was probably our favorite (see top of this page).

White_River_Falls_034_03292009 - This was the most direct look at the White River Falls or Tygh Valley Falls as seen from somewhere closer to the hydroelectric plant
This was the most direct look at the White River Falls or Tygh Valley Falls as seen from somewhere closer to the hydroelectric plant

It turned out that this path also led to some hydro structure near the bottom of the descent.

However, there are some previously worn sections of trail unofficially branching from the main path leading to a few outcrops with a more direct view of all the main tiers of the waterfall.

We were content with the views from here, but as stated earlier, I had seen Webshots of this waterfall from a precarious outcrop higher up the gorge looking straight down at the White River Falls.

Given the cliff exposure, I realized how much of a safety risk it was if I was to try to duplicate that shot so we didn’t even bother.


White River Falls (Tygh Valley Falls) resides in the White River Falls State Park near The Dalles in Wasco County, Oregon. It is administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

White_River_Falls_001_03292009 - The Upper White River Falls, which I saw from hiking a short distance upstream from where I stopped the car
White_River_Falls_002_03292009 - More contextual look at the Upper White River Falls
White_River_Falls_013_03292009 - A faint rainbow arcing over the White River Falls as I was looking for more ways to view this multi-tiered waterfall
White_River_Falls_041_03292009 - I tried to change my viewing angle to show more of the uppermost tiers with the middle tiers of White River Falls, but the chute above the middle tier kept me from getting that all-encompassing view
White_River_Falls_046_03292009 - Last view of White River Falls before we headed back to the car

We drove here by heading east on I-84 to The Dalles (rhymes with “the Pals”), then heading south on Hwy 197 before continuing east on Hwy 216.

This drive was roughly 60 miles (a little over an hour) east from Hood River, and is thus a fair bit outside the waterfall-saturated Columbia River Gorge.

To further provide a sense of context, The Dalles was 84 miles east of Portland.

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Following the water's flow beginning at a breathtaking view of the falls and ending at the hydro building downstream

Following the water's flow from the waterfall itself to the hydro building downstream

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Tagged with: tygh valley, white river, the dalles, wasco, oregon, waterfall, pacific northwest, mt hood, mount hood

Visitor Comments:

Swimming Hole (White River Falls) October 26, 2009 8:48 pm by Patrick Mertz - My cousins and I lived on State Hwy. 216, just a mile or so east of the park entrance in 1978 and 1979. We frequently went to the falls during the hot summer months for refreshing swims. I also fished the White River downstream from the falls, landing some nice trout. I haven't been back… ...Read More

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