Windsurfing, Hiking, Sightseeing, Travel, Where To Stay

If you live in or near Oregon or Washington, or are planning to visit, one place you won't want to miss is the Columbia River Gorge. Located just east of Portland, Oregon, "the Gorge" (as it's known by the residents) is a quick trip from Portland and vicinity, allowing you to make a day trip of the area, or stay for longer. If you enjoy the great outdoors and all it has to offer, this area has it all, from hiking and sightseeing to windsurfing, fine hotels and lodging, you'll find plenty to see and do. Famed explorers Lewis and Clark first traveled down the Columbia River in 1805, becoming the first white men to visit and appreciate the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. Today the Columbia River is well travelled by commercial shipping, pleasure boats and cruise ships. Parks and hiking areas abound in the area, allowing visitors to experience first-hand the waterfalls, hiking trails, and camping facilities in the Columbia River Gorge. And the Hood River area is home to some of the world's best windsurfing conditions. This article will give you information about what to see and do while in the Gorge; places to stay, including camping facilities as well as the fine hotels and resorts; and other useful information.

Places To Stay In The Gorge

To fully appreciate the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, we suggest spending a night or two there. There are many fine resorts and hotels in the Gorge. One place to check for lodging and other information is Gorge Here are just a few places to stay while enjoying the Gorge, as listed at the GorgeTravel web site. Many are even historic places, along with modern inns and bed and breakfasts!

  • Rowena Shores
    Check out the web site here if you are travelling to the area with a group for windsurfing. It's a fine facility with your own private beach to set sail from.
  • Columbia Gorge Hotel
    This is one of the Gorge's historic hotels, located in beautiful Hood River, Oregon. Only 60 miles from Portland, you're right on top of windsurfing and close to hiking and sightseeing activities.
  • Lyle Hotel
    Looking for an intimate lodging experience while vacationing in the Columbia River Gorge? Check out the Lyle Hotel. Located across the river on the Washington side in Lyle, it's easy accessible from Hood River. There are only 10 rooms available, and it's the oldest operating hotel in the Columbia River Gorge.
  • Mosier House Bed and Breakfast
    Located in Mosier, Oregon, just a few miles east of Hood River. Built in 1904, another historic choice for lodging in the Gorge.
There are plenty more places to stay at while visiting the Gorge. If you're thinking of camping in the Gorge, we'll present those options below under "Things To See and Do."

Things To See And Do In The Gorge

You'll certainly find plenty of activities to keep you busy in the Columbia Gorge. From hiking and camping to sightseeing, there's lots to do, and in some of the most beautiful country in the world. Here are some possible activities and sights for you as your plan your trip to the Columbia Gorge.

Perhaps you'll want to start out your trip by doing some sightseeing, first. As you drive east from Portland on Interstate 84, you'll want to jump off at Corbett at the exit for the Historic Highway. This narrow, scenic road was once the main road east out of Portland to such points as Hood River, the Dalles, Pendleton, and points east. It will take you up close and personal to five waterfalls: Latourell Falls, Sheppherds Dell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and the world famouns Multnomah Falls. Along the way you'll pass the Vista House, sitting high atop a mountain side overlooking the Columbia River. At Multnomah Falls you can visit the historic lodge, or hike the trail all the way to the top of the Falls, or stop at some point in between. There are hiking trails to the other falls as well. If you continue on past Multnomah Falls, you'll come to Ainsworth State Park, as well as other picnicing and hiking areas. If you travel east from Vancouver, Washington on State Highway 14, you'll see magnificent views of the Oregon side with its waterfalls. You'll find yourself high overlooking the Columbia River, or right down along the river itself. Stop at Beacon Rock State Park, or enjoy a walk through some of the small towns you'll travel through along the way, such as Skamania or Stevenson. From the Washington side, you can visit the Bonneville Dam and watch the salmon swim upstream in their viewing room. Drive a few miles east, cross over the Bridge of the Gods, and visit the quaint little town of Cascade Locks. There's a fish hatchery here which is interesting to visit, and you can see tugboats and barges go through the locks on their way up or down the Columbia River.

Hiking and Biking
There are plenty of hiking trails on both the Oregon and Washington side of the Columbia River. On the Oregon side, you can hike the trails to Multnomah, Latourell, and Horsetail Falls, and many more. If you're on the Washington side of the river, stop at Beacon Rock or hike trails at Dog Mountain or Balfour Klickitat, just to name a couple. If you're planning to bike through the Gorge, the Oregon Department of Transportation puts out a biking map with extra preparation tips for the Columbia Gorge. There are also two sections of the Old Highway which are only open to bikers and pedestrians. You can also bike on the Washington side.

If you plan to camp while on your Columbia Gorge vacation, there are good campsites available at Ainsworth State Park, Deschutes River State Recreation Area, Eagle Creek Campground, as well as camping at Memaloose, Viento or Wyeth State Parks. These campsites can accomodate trailer and RV's as well as tent camping. You can find more specific information about these campsites at These are in the Gorge, there are other campgrounds in the vicinity, too. Many of these campgrounds do not take reservations, but are on a "first come, first served" basis.

The Columbia River Gorge in the Hood River area is world-famous for it's great windsurfing. Drive down the highway on either side of the river and you will see for yourself just how popular this area is for this sport. You'll usually spot windsurfing enthusiasts anywhere from Rooster Rock on down to Rufus, with the biggest group near Hood River, which is the narrowest point of the Gorge. Even if you don't want to participate, you'll still enjoy watching those who do.

Other Things To See and Do
If you enjoy visiting museums and interpretative centers, you'll find several in the Columbia Gorge. The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is located in The Dalles. The History Center is in Hood River; the Sherman County Historical Museum is located in Moro, Oregon. On the Washington side, you may find the Maryhill Museum and the Gorge Heritage Museum of interest. There are also art museums that can be visited as well. On the Oregon side, there are several art museums in The Dalles, Hood River, and Cascade Locks. Plenty of museums are on the Washington side as well, in White Salmon, Stevenson, and Goldendale.

There are day cruises you can take, and longer ones,too. Take a lunch, dinner or brunch cruise in the Gorge, departing from Cascade Locks. Or you can take a cruise tour without meals, and all day cruise tours. Get more information from the Portland Spirit web site, including pricing and reservations.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of things to see and do in the Columbia River Gorge. Whether you have a single day or several, you won't be lacking for things do. We hope you'll enjoy your trip, and come back often!

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