Experience the Best of Columbia River Gorge: 7 Can’t-Miss Attractions You Must Visit!
If you’re looking for an escape to nature, there’s no better place than Columbia River Gorge. This National Scenic Area is home to some of the most breathtaking views in the Pacific Northwest, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers. From stunning waterfalls to historic trails, there’s something for everyone in Columbia River Gorge.
Introduction to Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is a 90-mile long canyon that runs along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest creating a natural border between Oregon and Washington. The area is known for its dramatic landscape, which includes towering cliffs, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. The gorge is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, from bald eagles to black bears.
History of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Columbia River Gorge was formed by a series of cataclysmic events, including volcanic eruptions and massive floods. The area has been inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years, who have long recognized the gorge’s spiritual significance. In the 19th century, European settlers arrived in the area, and the gorge became an important transportation route for trade and commerce.
To protect the area’s natural beauty, Columbia River Gorge was designated a National Scenic Area in 1986. Today, the area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is a popular destination for outdoor recreation.
Top 7 attractions in Columbia River Gorge
Multnomah Falls is one of the most iconic landmarks in Columbia River Gorge. This stunning waterfall cascades 620 feet down a sheer cliff face, making it the tallest waterfall in Oregon. Visitors can take a short hike to the viewing platform at the base of the falls or hike to the top for a panoramic view of the gorge.
• Hood River Fruit Loop
The Hood River Fruit Loop is a scenic driving route that takes visitors through some of the area’s most beautiful orchards and farms. Visitors can stop at various fruit stands and farm stores to sample fresh produce and artisanal products. The route also offers stunning views of Mount Hood and the surrounding countryside.
Beacon Rock State Park is home to one of the most iconic landmarks in Columbia River Gorge. The park’s namesake, Beacon Rock, is a 848-foot tall volcanic plug that offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Visitors can hike to the top of the rock or take a leisurely stroll along the park’s many trails.
• Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail
The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail is a 73-mile long trail that follows the historic Columbia River Highway. The trail offers stunning views of the gorge and passes by several iconic landmarks, including waterfalls, bridges, and scenic overlooks. Visitors can hike or bike the trail, which is open year-round.
• Columbia River Gorge Sternwheeler
The Columbia River Gorge Sternwheeler is a replica of a historic steamship that once operated on the Columbia River. The ship offers guided tours of the gorge, complete with live narration and stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can also enjoy a meal or a drink on board the ship’s restaurant.
• Columbia River Gorge Wineries
Columbia River Gorge is home to a thriving wine industry, with over 40 wineries and vineyards in the area. Visitors can take a wine tour and sample some of the region’s best wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Many of the wineries offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape and are open year-round.
• Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood National Forest is a vast wilderness area that covers over 1 million acres in the Pacific Northwest. The forest is home to Mount Hood, the highest peak in Oregon, as well as numerous other mountains, lakes, and rivers. Visitors can hike, fish, camp, and ski in the forest, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Where to stay and eat in Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge is home to a wide range of accommodation options, from rustic cabins to luxurious resorts. Visitors can also choose from a variety of dining options, including farm-to-table restaurants, brewpubs, and cafes.
Some popular places to stay in Columbia River Gorge include:
- Skamania Lodge: This luxurious resort offers stunning views of the gorge and is located near many of the area’s top attractions.
- Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins: These cozy cabins offer a romantic getaway in the heart of the gorge.
- Columbia Gorge Hotel: This historic hotel was built in 1921 and offers stunning views of the gorge and its waterfalls.
Some popular places to eat in Columbia River Gorge include:
- Solstice Wood Fire Cafe: This farm-to-table restaurant offers delicious wood-fired pizzas and other seasonal dishes.
- Full Sail Brewing Company: This brewpub offers a variety of craft beers and pub fare, as well as stunning views of the Columbia River.
- Hood River Fruit Company: This farm store offers fresh produce and baked goods, as well as a charming outdoor cafe.
Tips for visiting Columbia River Gorge
- Dress in layers: The weather in Columbia River Gorge can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers so you can adjust to changing temperatures.
- Bring sunscreen and insect repellent: The area can be sunny and buggy, so it’s a good idea to bring these essentials.
- Stay on designated trails: To protect the area’s delicate ecosystem, visitors are asked to stay on designated trails and follow Leave No Trace principles.
- Check for closures and restrictions: Some trails and attractions may be closed or have restrictions due to weather or other factors, so it’s a good idea to check ahead before visiting.
Columbia River Gorge is a truly unique destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a foodie, you’ll find plenty to explore in this stunning National Scenic Area. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to experience the best of Columbia River Gorge.
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