Sunday, June 6, 2021

Spring Flowers from the Oregon Side

 Ready for more wildflower pics?  (Of course you are!)

Sunrise from Memaloose Overlook

A couple of weeks before my Dalles Mountain Ranch pilgrimage (see previous post), I took a (very) early morning drive on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge to check out spring wildflower bloom.  I'd hoped to photograph sunrise at Rowena Crest, but wasn't early enough.  Seeing that dawn was about to break, I pulled my car over at nearby Memaloose Overlook.  Just in the nick of time - I caught the sun as it climbed over the river.

Not much flower action on Rowena Plateau

Sunrise now over it was time to continue onward to Rowena Crest.  The plateau below this overlook always has a wonderful spring wildflower display.  However, upon arrival it was evident I was too early.  A few balsamroot flowers were beginning to bloom, but most were still a week or two away.

Looking towards Tom McCall Point

Despite the lack of balsamroot, I wandered Rowena Plateau anyway, snapping pictures of whatever struck my fancy.  I loved the morning light on Tom McCall Point, towering over the plateau.

Balsamroot in the sunlight

The few balsamroot that were blooming were most lovely, especially backlit by the morning sun.

Desert Parsley was out in force

The amount of desert parsley in bloom made up for the low balsamroot numbers, contributing some yellow color to the area.

Lovely balsamroot flower

After walking around the plateau for an hour, I decided to drive down the road and check out nearby Memaloose Hills.  So back I went, parking at the overlook where I'd captured sunrise just a couple of hours ago.

Shooting stars

The Memaloose Hills have a reputation for huge spring wildflower blooms.  It's a short one-mile hike to a junction that will take hikers up either Chatfield or Marsh Hills.

Balsamroot clump on Memaloose Hills trail

The trail to reach this junction is also a delight.  Flowers bloom nearly continuously the entire way.  On this day I passed many clumps of blooming balsamroot, purple larkspur, prairie stars, shooting stars, and much more.

Columbia Desert Parsley 

I even spotted a patch of the rare purple Columbia Desert Parsley!

Approaching Chatfield Hill

Reaching the trail junction, this day I chose to head west and visit Chatfield Hill first.

Blooming bonanza on Chatfield Hill

It's a short climb through the woods to reach this lovely hillside.  But once I left the woods, wow, was I in for a surprise!  Balsamroot flowers blooming everywhere!

Flower-lined path

These sunny yellow blooms never fail to make me smile.

Blooms in the woods

It always takes me a long time to cover the half mile trail to the top of Chatfield Hill.  I'm sure you can't imagine why.

Balsamroot buddies

Love this lone tree on Chatfield Hill

There's one lone tree rooted prominently on the slopes of Chatfield Hill.  And every year I snap the same image of this tree standing above the sea of wildflowers.

A bit of Indian Paintbrush adds color

Higher on the slopes, I began to see a few orange Indian Paintbrush flowers adding their color to the wildflower mix.


Although the lupine bloom was just getting started I did notice a few nice specimens.

Farmland and Mt Hood view from Chatfield Hill

As I climbed higher, the valley below came into view.  And a shadowy Mt Hood made an appearance.

Columbia River view from Chatfield Hill

On Chatfield Hill's summit are wonderful views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, and the Columbia River looking west.  Half of the hill is on private property, and a barb wire fence with strongly worded signs affixed discourages trespassers.

Mt Hood view from Marsh Hill

After spending much happy time on Chatfield Hill, I descended, headed east at the trail junction and climbed up neighboring Marsh Hill.  The balsamroot bloom wasn't quite as prolific as it's brother hill, but the views of Mt Hood were better.

A good day for wildflowers!

A good day for wildflower hunting!  The Memaloose Hills seem to always deliver.  Now to beat the rain home and download my memory card.


  1. Gorgeous photos - and I shall certainly recognise Balsamroot if I see it again! I'm particularly impressed by the shots with flowers in the foreground and the landscape unfolding behind; they really give the feeling of being there.

  2. Absolutely mind blowing, awesome captures. Your long awaited spring is so full of joy!

  3. Hello,
    It does look like a wonderful day for the wildflowers. I love all the yellow flowers and gorgeous views! Lovely series of photos. Take care, have a happy day and a great week ahead.

  4. Beautiful! Nothing quite like spring flowers.

  5. WOW!!!!! Stunning beauty. It took me a while to scroll through and allow my eyes to absorb all that beauty.

  6. No matter how often you post pictures of the Balsamroot bloom I am still ways amazed!

  7. Look at those wildflowers! The places I would need to go to see flowers like that are still snow covered in the mountains here. The cheerfulness of those colours must just make your heart sing!

  8. So lovely! All that wet weather you get up there makes for some beautiful spring wildflowers, I'm jealous!


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