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Hard rock in the Columbia Gorge.

Surrounded by live volcanoes (Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens) and dead ones (Larch and Underwood mountains), the Columbia River Gorge is the site of a volcano that never quite went ballistic. It's called Beacon Rock, and it started as an immense magma flow that pushed into soft sediments before hardening into an underground volcanic plug. Around 10,000 years ago, a colossal flood uncovered the fractured rock, which, if it were an unbroken monolith, would be exceeded in size only by the Rock of Gibraltar and Ayers Rock in Australia. Beacon Rock is at milepost 35 on the north side of the Columbia Gorge near Bonneville Dam, within easy reach of Portland. Our favorite approach is on Washington State Highway 14. Once you reach Beacon Rock, you can take a 1-mile hike to the top, 848 feet above the Columbia, for a whopping view of the gorge. Or camp in Beacon Rock State Park at the rock's base and muse on bigness: places like this made the concept famous.
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Title Annotation:Widow on the West; Beacon Rock
Article Type:Illustration
Date:May 1, 1994
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