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A Governor's Legacy At Rowena Crest

by Grant McOmie

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

Posted on May 22, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:35 PM

Flowers on Tom McCall 2 Preserve.jpg

It's a view that's never twice the same down a trail that leads to a timeless place.

The Tom McCall Preserve atop Rowena Crest is in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge where right now is the prime time for spring wildflowers.



Steve Terrill, a native Oregonian and noted landscape photographer, said Rowena Crest is a "slice of heaven on Earth."

"The first word that comes to my mind is 'diversity,' noted Terrill on a recent field shoot.

He strolled a section of trail that stretched toward the glorious Columbia River and he stopped every few yards to admire the incredible riot of color that had broken out.

steve's pic 3.jpg

"There is an explosion of color that's almost surreal," he said. "I just love this - I almost feel like I'm the only person out here!"

Terrill also noted that shooting pretty pictures at Rowena Crest (especially on a wind-blown day) can be a challenge.

Yet he also admitted that the beauty of the wind swept plateau and the sprawling 200-acre site is jaw-dropping gorgeous:


"It's like green waves flowing across a meadow up here, and it's splashed with purple and yellow and red and orange. The wind gives an effect of rippling water over the surface of a lake or the ocean."


The diverse colors are born of the nearly three hundred different wildflower species that grow on the Tom McCall Preserve.

The preserve is an important link in the chain of Nature Conservancy Preserves across Oregon.


The site was named in 1982 for Oregon Governor Tom McCall who carried a commitment for conservation.

Many people, (Terrill included) like that connection.

Terrill also stakes out a spot on the trail where can go to work with his camera when he wants to capture moments of the special time and place.

Steve freely shared some of his hard earned photo tips: use a tripod to steady the shot, a wide angle lens to get up close and an electronic shutter release to get rid of the shakes.

But with a smile - he wryly added - don't forget one more thing:

"Patience! If you're out here to enjoy this and the shot that you want includes flowers in the foreground with a stunning gorge scene in the background - just set up and be patient - really be patient for the right light and weather and overall look."


Terrill's patience has paid off in a project that he prizes the most of all his work: the "All Oregon Calendar."


It is shot and produced, printed and published entirely in his home state.

"Well, I was born and raised in Portland and I just absolutely love Oregon!
If I can keep the money and the jobs - even just a little bit because we're not a huge company by any means, but if I can keep that in Oregon then I think I'm helping a little bit."

view to columbia river.jpg

You'll want to explore the Tom McCall Preserve more than a little bit - perhaps to wander the mile-long trail toward the Columbia River or the three mile version that loops uphill.


Both are fine adventures for folks with time and patience and a love of the Oregon outdoors.

The Tom McCall Preserve is the sort of place that will satisfy your curiosity, let your heart soar and perhaps restore your soul in the beauty that is found in Oregon.


You might even consider making the Tom McCall Preserve experience a part of your entry in a unique travel contest. It's called the Oregon 150 Challenge and it offers a unique dream vacation as a grand prize.