Photo Gallery: The Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington.
The Cascade Mountain Range stretches from the southern edge of British Columbia through Washington and Oregon and into Northern California. The range is largely volcanic in origin. The Cascades are home to many of America's volcanoes. Within a few hours drive of my home town of Portland are Mt. Adams, Mount Hood, Mt St Helens, Mount Jefferson, and The Three Sisters.
The summit ridge of the Cascades ranges from 100 to 150 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and captures most of the rainfall and snow that gets past the coastal mountain ranges. High elevations receive massive amounts of winter snow, particularly in Northern Washington and in the Crater Lake Area. East of the Cascades, the climate is arid and the landscape is Great Basin type high desert.
The western slopes of the Cascades are famous for their vast forests of Douglas fir, western red cedar, and hemlock trees. High elevation forests contain a variety of subalpine tree species including silver fir, noble fir, and Engelmann spruce. The eastern slopes of the Cascades are drier; the westside species gradually give way to ponderosa pine, and then sagebrush. The low and middle elevation forests have been heavily logged in most areas, but the high country is largely protected.
Most of the land in the Cascade Mountains is open to the public. Much of it is National Forest. The Cascades are home to several National Parks and Monuments, including Mount Rainer NP, Crater Lake NP, Lassen Volcanic NP, North Cascades NP, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
As a photographer I find that the Cascade Mountains supply endless photo opportunities. From picture perfect mountain peaks to wildflower meadows to lush river valleys, it seems like there is a fresh photograph around every bend in the road. Picture possibilities in the Cascade Mountains extend through the entire year.
Beginning with spring, wildflowers start blooming in early March in the eastern Columbia River Gorge while skiers are still catching the the last of the winter snows at Timberline Lodge and Mt Hood Meadows. As spring progresses, the wildflower bloom moves from the eastern Gorge to the western end of the Gorge.
Summer in the Cascades offers the opportunity to work at all elevations, but the high country is especially exciting. Wildflowers are blooming in alpine and subalpine meadows and the snow on the major peaks still looks fresh and clean. With access to the high country comes the opportunity to shoot sunrise and sunset photos of the mountain peaks from close range, which enhances the alpenglow effect.
Fall is my favorite season to shoot in the Cascade Mountains. The fall foliage opportunities here are limited compared to New England or Eastern Canada, but vine maple turns vivid colors. Bigleaf maples turn a beautiful shade of yellow and can be found in masses at lower elevations. There are stands of aspens scattered along the east side of the mountains That turn bright yellow. Along the river bottoms, groves of 100 foot high cottonwoods provide more yellow color. Huckleberry turns a vivid red, and alpine tundra becomes very colorful. Winter is the season to shoot snow on the high peaks and, when conditions are right, ice on the rivers and cliffs in the canyons. In the Columbia River Gorge, a photographer has the opportunity to shoot pictures that include cliffs and canyons that range from sea level to over 5000 feet in elevation.
All materials on this site are copyright 1992-2015 by Doug Gorsline / ashcreekimages.com
Fog and mists drift through old growth forest on Larch Mountain, Oregon
Freezing fog coats trees on the summit of Lookout Mountain with rime ice.
Bigleaf Maple leaves cover a rock on the Breitenbush River in Western Oregon.
The morning sun backlights rising mists on the White River Road, Oregon.
Sunrise on Mt. Hood as seen from the White River Canyon.
The North & Middle Sister as seen from the Pacific Crest trail north of the McKenzie Pass Highway.
Alpine silver snags stand in a meadow full of penstemons at Cloud Cap Inn on Mount Hood.
The North and Middle Sister viewed from the McKenzie Pass Highway, looking across a young lava field.
Bird Creek Meadows, Washington, glows in soft afternoon light.
Mount Rainier, Washington photographed from a meadow below Paradise.
Mists and fog drift through Cascade Mountains forests near Mt Hood, Oregon.
Mount Hood, Oregon, at sunset as seen from the top of Larch Mountain.
Fog and mists drift through Cascade Mountains forests on Larch Mountain, Oregon.
Long shadows cross Hood River Meadows on the east flank of Mount Hood.
Dwarf alpine Huckleberry grows in an alpine meadow in the Oregon Cascades.
Cascade Mountain Ash blooms in a lava bed on McKenzie Pass.
Scarlet gilia catches a ray of sunlight on a ridge across from Mount Hood.
Rime ice coats alpine firs on Lookout Mountain, near Mount Hood.