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White River Falls State Park

It isn't easy hiding a waterfall that has been called Oregon's Niagara or Yosemite, but somehow we do.

Out in the high desert of Central Oregon, fewer than 25 miles south of The Dalles, is the White River Falls State Park.

Here, crashing over a two-tier shelf of basalt, the White River drops between 110 and 150 feet, depending on whom you believe.

In winter, the upper falls widen to 100 feet of thundering water but, as the summer heat increases, they shrink, and by autumn only a narrow stream braids its way to the boulders below.

Whitewater kayakers used to gather each summer in the mist and spray of the lower falls, but recently the boats have been banned.

Remnants of an early 20th century electric power plant and an even older grist mill are at the bottom of the falls, reached by a quarter-mile hike into the canyon.

The park is still a popular picnicking, hiking and fishing oasis, with spectacular close-up views of the falls.

Once a wayside known only by local residents, it became a state park in 1974. But even now, very few people have heard of it.

Park entrance is free. For information, call 1-800-551-6949.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.