Oneonta Gorge is a large canyon covered with moss, lichen and ferns on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge.

The landscape is composed of 25 million year old basaltic rock (formed in the Miocene), which is almost entirely covered with fern, moss and lichen due to its high degree of humidity.

Oneonta Gorge

The flora of the area would not be of relevance, if it were not for the fact that in this gorge there are very unique species of mosses and ferns, which are not easily found elsewhere in the world.

Hidden at the end of the gorge is the beautiful Oneonta waterfall, with 18m of free fall. It is impossible to reach it through roads, to reach the waterfall it is necessary to get into the water.


The U.S. Forest Service has designated the Oneonta Gorge as a botanical area because of the plant diversity that grows there, where unique species, both terrestrial and aquatic, can be found. The hard basalt rock of the area is home to a wide variety of ferns, mosses and lichens, many of which grow only in the Oneonta Gorge.

Oneonta Creek flows through the gorge, and a total of four major waterfalls are found along its course. Middle Oneonta Falls can be clearly seen from a nearby road.

Oneonta Gorge - Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The lower gorge has been preserved for years as a natural area, so there are no roads of any kind. Consequently, the Lower Oneonta Falls can only be seen by walking upstream from the Historic Columbia River Highway.

To reach a higher view from which to admire them, it is necessary to stride through the water, which at some points can be up to your neck, depending on the season and the amount of post-winter snowmelt.

The Upper Falls are located one mile upstream from the Middle Falls and require climbing up the canyon walls to see them.
The fourth Triple Falls can be seen from an observation point on the higher trails in the gorge.

The first time the Oneonta Gorge was photographed, it was by Carleton Eugene Watkins, a native of Oneonta, New York, who had traveled to Colorado. Upon discovering the gorge, he named it after his hometown.

The curious thing about this canyon (small if you will in comparison with others), is the vegetation that grows in the place.

Oneonta is a gorge that could well be a “botanical garden” because of the plant species that grow there, many of them endemic. On the basalt walls of the canyon grow a variety of ferns, mosses, lichens, and even liverworts, all characteristic of excessively humid places.

Along the gorge there are four waterfalls that can be observed from some trails and viewpoints, and there is no shortage of those who venture to explore the gorge along the stream inside the gorge, although the water level is not usually too high. The tour, judging by the pictures, is a real green walk.

Oneonta Gorge

Is Oneonta Gorge Open 2022?

Yes, Oneonta Gorge is open! According to the U.S. Forest Service: Timed Use Permit required starting 5/24/22 available on More information at

For more info visit: