• Share


1    What is Vista House?

Vista House is an iconic historic structure built as a tribute to Oregon’s pioneers, a rest station and observatory.


2    What is Friends of Vista House?

Friends of Vista House (FOVH) is a tax-exempt non-profit organization established in 1982.  FOVH works in partnership with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) to provide volunteer services to the estimated million annual visitors to Vista House.  Our volunteers contributed over 10,000 hours of service at Vista House in 2008 alone.  FOVH also operates the Vista House Museum Gift Shop and Espresso Bar.  FOVH receives no public funding.  Revenues from the retail operation, memberships and donations enable FOVH to provide the volunteer services, educational programs, materials and tours for schools and other community groups.  Read more about Friends of Vista House here or get involved and Volunteer!


3    Where is Vista House?

Vista House is located along the Historic Columbia River Highway at the western entrance to the Columbia River Gorge.  It sits atop Crown Point, 733 feet above the Columbia River.

[ Directions ]


4    What is Crown Point?

Crown Point, originally called “Thor’s Heights,” is the promontory where Vista House is located and has been an Oregon State Park day use area since 1938.  This site attracts over a million visitors each year.


5    When was Vista House built?

Construction on Vista House began December 29, 1916, soon after the dedication of the (Historic) Columbia River Highway.  It was completed May 1, 1918 even though a plaque on the rear entrance of the building reads 1917.  It was dedicated on May 5, 1918.  Quoting The Oregonian, November 14, 1915, “Vista House is intended to be the finishing achievement for the greatest highway in America and will grace the highest spot on that wonderway.”


6    What is its purpose?

Upon completion of the Columbia River Highway (1916), motor travelers identified the need for a “comfort station.”   Design engineer, Samuel Lancaster, envisioned Crown Point as the ideal site for “an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia could be viewed in silent communion with the infinite.”  Vista House also serves as a tribute to Oregon’s pioneers.


7    Where is Vista House – how do you get there?

From either westbound or eastbound on I-84, you can reach Vista House by taking Exit 22 (Corbett).  From the top of Corbett Hill, go left (east) for approximately 3 miles.  Be sure to stop at the Portland Women’s Forum Viewpoint (1.5 miles from Vista House) for a spectacular view of Vista House and the Columbia River Gorge. [ Directions ]


8    How far is Vista House from Portland?

Vista House is approximately 24 miles from Portland and about a 20-minute ride from the Portland airport (PDX).


9    Who built Vista House?

The property was originally deeded to the City of Portland for a park and when plans for a comfort station were being developed, Crown Point was the chosen site.  Vista House was initially intended to be a modest structure, built with an equal share from private and public monies.  The private fundraising effort fell short and the bulk of the money to build Vista House came from Multnomah County.

10    How much did it cost?

The original, less elaborate structure was to cost about $17,000.  The final design resulted in a completed building costing $99,148.05.  The Oregon Journal editorial called it “the most expensive comfort station in the world.”


11    Who are the Native Americans depicted in the Rotunda?

There has been much research done to identify the Native Americans depicted in the rotunda but no individuals or specific tribes have been identified.  There are 8 busts but only 4 images that mirror themselves around the dome of the rotunda.


12    Is there an admission fee?

There is no admission fee but we gratefully accept donations to support our educational and volunteer services.  The building is open daily from mid-March through October and on weekends and holidays during the winter months, weather permitting.


13    What are the days and hours of operation?

From mid-March through October, Vista House is open daily. Hours range from 10-4 to 9-6, based on time of year.  During the winter months, Vista House is open weekends and holidays, weather permitting.  Call FOVH at (503) 695-2230 for more information.


14    Is the building ADA accessible?

Yes.  Since the restoration, the upper (rotunda) and lower levels of the building are now ADA accessible.  Vista House has a unique lift for access to the lower level that was designed to preserve the historic integrity of the building.  This addition offers access to the lower level restrooms, interpretive displays, gift store and espresso bar.  When not in use, it is “invisible” to visitors in the rotunda and the lower level.


15    Who owns Vista House? Vista House is an Oregon State Park and is therefore the property of all Oregonians.  It is loved and appreciated, however, by people from all over the world!


16    Who designed Vista House?

Vista House was designed by the visionary architect, Edgar M. Lazarus.  We know his sister, Emma Lazarus, as the poet whose memorable words are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.


17    How far is Multnomah Falls from Vista House?
Multnomah Falls is about 8 miles east of Vista House along the Historic Columbia River Highway.


18    When was Vista House restored?

The complete restoration of Vista House began in August 2001 and took almost 5 years to complete.  The formal rededication took place May 5, 2006 on the 88th anniversary of its original dedication.


19    How much did the recent restoration cost?

The project cost approximately $4.5 million.  It was a private-public partnership with over $2.5 million raised from individuals, private foundations and corporations.  The balance of the funds came from federal, state and county funding sources. The Oregon State Parks Trust, Friends of Vista House and the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department led the successful private fundraising campaign.


20    Did Lewis and Clark stop at the Vista House site?
Lewis and Clark camped just below Crown Point at Rooster Rock.


21    How do you get to I-84 from Vista House?

From Vista House, go west to Corbett Hill Road to Exit 22.  Travelers may proceed either east or west at Exit 22.

22    Where are the waterfalls? Along the Historic Columbia River Highway, from Vista House to Horsetail Falls (10 mile span), you will see 7 waterfalls from your car.  From Vista House to Hood River (40 miles), you will encounter 27 waterfalls, many visible from the road and others offering spectacular vistas just a short hike from the trailhead at the roadside.


23    And the most-asked question of all…Where are the restrooms?

The marble and mahogany restroom facilities are located in the lower level of the building.  Visitors reach the lower level via the circular marble stairways or by using the lift.  In the early days of the building’s history, both men’s and women’s facilities also served as lounge areas where weary travelers could rest from their hour-long trip from Portland.

Our Mission: To help preserve and protect the historic Vista House and to provide information and interpretive programs about it's history and the Columbia River Gorge.

Friends of Vista House is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations and membership fees are tax deductible.

FOVH Featured Video
This is a must see for anyone interested in the Vista House. Select here to view the movie.

Become a Member!
Help us keep the doors to the Vista House open. Take a minute and select here for membership information.

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected $end in /home/vistahouse/www/www/wp-content/themes/wp-vistatheme/footer.php on line 24