Rowena Crest Light Trails After

Rowena Crest Viewpoint

From the Rowena Crest Viewpoint parking lot, the giant horseshoe curve of the highway below is surrounded by a notable plateau which combines with spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge making this a unique viewpoint and photographic composition opportunity.

Additionally, this is a really fun drive via an old scenic road that winds and twists  its way leading up to the viewpoint. The highway starts alongside the Columbia River with views of the gorge. From there it transitions from the valley desert to mountains, to plains, to grassland. It’s truly one of the special places in Oregon.

There’s just so much beauty to see in this area!


For the Rowena Crest Viewpoint area, the warm season is generally from May to September with average daily highs from the 70s – 80s°F. The cold season is generally from November to March with an average daily high temperature below 50°F.

Getting The Shot 

Instagram has added to the popularity of this spot. You’ll typically find a lot of people up here taking pictures of themselves with the background of the horseshoe bend of the road below.

This horseshoe road composition also lends itself to light trail photography. This is when the lights from an automobile are captured in a long exposure photograph or several photos are stacked and blended into one shot.

We waited until the blue hour, I found my composition and locked my settings and tripod down. There were a couple of other local photographers there flying their drones while we waited.

I put my camera into bulb mode, found my ISO and aperture and started exposing using my remote shutter release. I took several pictures, which I then stacked and blended.

There was plenty of traffic coming and going through the bend. The headlights produce a white light and the taillights a red one. I captured cars going in both directions up and down the bend to have both in the photo. 

I’m always thankful for Graywolf, our Winnebago Travato RV/van, to have a warm place to wait for the perfect light, with snacks, and a bathroom!

Camera Gear & Settings

  • Camera Sony A7R
  • Lens Sony FE 19-35mm
  • Focal Length 19mm
  • ISO 1000
  • Aperture F4
  • Shutter Speed 32 sec
  • Tripod Mefoto Q1


Processing Workflow

  • Skylum Aurora HDR
  • Blended 3 images 
  • Set black and white points
  • Cleaning/spot removal in sky
  • White balance adjustment
  • Saturation on the trail lights 
  • Tone mapping 
  • Dehaze
  • Noise reduction
  • Vignette around the edges


What To Bring

  • Water/snack
  • Camera
  • Wide angle lens
  • Zoom lens
  • Tripod
  • Remote shutter release 
  • Filters (ND and/or polarizer)
  • Shoes with good traction and that are waterproof
  • Flashlight/headlamp to make your way back after sunset
  • Jacket depending on the season


Explore More Of The Columbia River Gorge

The Rowena Crest Viewpoint has several trails to hike to see the majesty of the Columbia River Gorge. Many areas are flat and an easy walk to see the beauty of this amazing river and its bordering landscape. Be prepared, sometimes the conditions can be very windy.


Search Pinterest, Instagram, Google Images, 500px, or Flickr for additional composition inspiration.


An excellent view of the gorge can be found on Old Historic highway 30 from The Dalles to Mosier. From Mosier heading east, use exit 69 from I-84. From Rowena heading west, use exit 76 from I-84.

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