What's so great about the Columbia River Gorge?

July 15, 2015

By Megan Hill

Photo at right: Upstream view of Columbia River Gorge shows Oregon in the foreground and Washington state across the river. Photo by Bala Sivakumar


Violently carved into the scabland plateau by the flood waters of ancient Lake Missoula, the now-pliable waters of the Columbia Gorge serve as the watery border of Washington and Oregon.

The often fog-shrouded northern banks of the Gorge on the Washington side are damp and mossy green; whereas Oregon’s southern banks are drier and more reliably warm and sunny.

The Gorge is a playground for outdoor-oriented travelers, with numerous opportunities to bike or hike to viewpoints, explore canyons and enjoy waterfalls.

Wind-centric sports such as sailing, windsurfing and kite boarding take advantage of the strong forces of wind that push forcefully through the Gorge. In the towns of Hood River, Oregon and Stevenson, Washington, these water and wind sports are popular hobbies and visitors can take lessons or watch from the shore.

Other engaging activities in the area include wine tastings and brewery visits. There are more than 30 wineries and 45 vineyards scattered throughout the area such as the award-winning Marchesi Vineyards in Hood River and the oldest winery in the Columbia River Gorge, Wind River Winery in Husum, Washington, about 20 miles east of Stevenson.

Beer lovers delight in outstanding breweries like Pfriem Family Brewers in Hood River, and Walking Man Brewing in Stevenson.

The Columbia Gorge etched its name in the history books when Lewis and Clark traveled through on their way to the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles, Oregon, and the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson, Washington, teach visitors about the Gorge’s natural, geological and human history.