The newly refurbished Vancouver Waterfront couldn’t have a better location, right on the banks of the Columbia River. As new buildings are built, the waterfront park area is already starting to mature, with landscaping filling in and looking like it’s always been there. The new waterfront park sign greets visitors and will soon be landscaped as well. Visiting there at the end of August, the ornamental grasses swayed in the light breeze as people enjoyed the sunny morning, out walking their dogs, letting the children play in the sandy play area, and friends walked the loop.
A main feature of the park is a water feature, with water cascading down a black monolith with an engraved map of the region. The water then flows down a slight decline – seemingly right across the pavement, but in reality forming what is a symbol of the Columbia River, with tributary waterfalls and streams flowing in and adding to the river as it pours downhill to the end of its run, where it is drained and taken back up to the top again. The waterfalls that line its edge are timed to ebb and flow, pouring out of large rock formations carved with sayings and names of the local Native American tribes. It is a very well-thought-out design and fun to watch. Children will enjoy being able to play in the water if they want to, as the “river” flowing is only about 1/2″ deep.
The main highlight of the new waterfront is the sailing ship form that juts out into the river, with the towering mast. It makes for a great viewpoint overlooking the I-5 bridge to the east, and the railroad bridge to the south. From there you can watch all the activity on the water – barges, sailboats, rowing crews, pilot boats, paddle wheel cruise ships, and even during Portland Rose Festival, an occasional military ship pass by. Overhead you’ll see planes pass by from nearby Pearson Airfield or PDX. It can be a hive of activity, or a peaceful walk all by yourself. It is all up to the timing. But a good time to visit is at either sunrise or sunset, when the view from the riverside is spectacular.
The waterfront park is just one phase and will someday be better connected to the walk along the river on the eastern side of the bridge that connects with the Confluence Bridge, Fort Vancouver, and Pearson Airfield. For now, grab a friend and get in a brisk morning walk then stop and enjoy coffee at nearby Kafiex, or do some wine tasting at one of the wine tasting rooms or enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants, then catch the sunset during an evening stroll. Enjoy this beautiful new park on the waterfront!