Columbia River Gorge Travel Guide

With the top down, we were taking in the summer sun as we headed to the Columbia Gorge River, the “Grand” Canyon of the Pacific Northwest.  SUV’s were in every highway lane, headed in the same direction, loaded with kayaks on rooftops and bikes hanging off the backsides.

Columbia River Gorge  Columbia River Gorge

Follow the 1,243 mile Columbia River that flows south from Alberta, Canada, and cuts westwards along the borders of Washington and Oregon through 80 miles of canyons, and you’ll discover why spandex-clad cyclists, surfers with six pack abs flock here. This area offers plenty of recreational activities from world-class rafting, kiteboarding, windsurfing, bicycling, hiking, golfing, horseback riding, to skiing, snowshoeing. Fish for salmon, steelhead, trout, bass along the Klickitat and the Deschutes Rivers. Or you can opt to visit artist studios, shop for antiques, or go wine tasting.

Columbia River Gorge bridge

We spent a long weekend visiting the towns of Hood River, Oregon and White Salmon, Washington, on opposite sides of the Columbia River. Both towns are connected by the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge, only a couple miles apart and a $1 bridge toll away.

Our List of Top Things to Do/Stay/Dine while visiting the White Salmon & Hood River Area along the Columbia River Gorge

Where to Stay?

Hood River:

We stayed at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, originally developed in 1904 by Bobby Rand, a Hood River pioneer, and listed as a Historic Hotel in America. The Hotel stands on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River, and is surrounded by manicured gardens, streams, and even a waterfall, the Wah Gwin Gwin Falls that cascades over 200 ft. down to the river.

HR 15 Columbia River Gorge

Over the years, this opulent hotel has hosted celebrities including Shirley Temple and Rudolph Valentino, and Presidents Roosevelt and Coolidge.  Many brides and grooms have their wedding ceremonies in the gardens outside, and then celebrate in the hotel’s famous ballroom.

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Columbia Gorge Hotel 4000 Westcliff Drive, Hood River, Oregon 97031

Toll Free: 800-345-1921 or Local: 541-386-5566 Email: Website

White Salmon:

White Salmon is just 10 minutes from Hood River, and this 3-block town offers the best views of Mt. Hood from its bluff overlooking the Columbia River. Built during the apple boom of the late 19th century, White Salmon is becoming a hip town and an urban retreat.  Artists studios and galleries line the town, and you can pick up fresh plums, cherries and lavender at the weekly Farmer’s Market on the main street – Jewett Boulevard.

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David and Dennice Dierck bought the historic 20-room Inn of the White Salmon in June 2007.  Guests find the rooms comfortable and cozy, and can enjoy a patio and garden as well.  The Inn is considered an eco-friendly boutique hotel, with an art gallery in the hallways, and inspiring quotes on the bedroom walls, like this one: “To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Inn of the White Salmon, 172 W Jewett Blvd, White Salmon, WA 98672 509.493.2335 or 800.972.5226  Website 

Where to Dine along the Columbia River Gorge?

There are several options for dining from Hood River to White Salmon – here some recommendations from locals, our concierge:

White Salmon, Washington

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Columbia Cafe (formerly Katina’s) – 111 E Jewett, 509.493.0108 – Breakfast, lunch, pastries, espresso drinks

Everybody’s Brewing – 151 E Jewett, 509.637.2775 – Handcrafted beer and locally sourced food

Feast Market & Delicatessen – 320 E Jewett, 509.637.2530 or 509.637.6886 – Specialty food shop and restaurant

Henni’s Kitchen & Bar – 120 E Jewett, 509.493.1555 – Brings world-famous dishes and recipes to the Columbia Gorge – we heard the food is delicious and want to dine at Henni’s on our next visit to White Salmon!

North Shore Cafe – 166 E Jewett, 509.493.1340 – Coffee, specialty drinks, food, beer, and wine

Pioneer Pizza – 216 E Jewett, 509.493.0028 – Artisan pizza, arcade games, steampunk decor

Hood River, Oregon

3 Rivers Grill – 541.386.8883 – Fine dining in an upscale relaxed atmosphere with spectacular river views.  We had a lovely dinner here!

Brian’s Pourhouse – 541.387.4344 – Fine food, river and mountain views – fabulous food and wonderful ambience, especially on the outside patios.

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Celilo – 541.386.5710 – Pacific Northwest cuisine made with fresh and local ingredients.  Very nice and delicious!

Nora’s Table – 541.387.4000 – World-wise food and a wine list devoted exclusively to Columbia Gorge wines

Riverside Grill – 800.828.7873 – Continental cuisine, river view

Sixth Street Bistro – 541.386.5737 – Eclectic menu, including vegetarian

Solstice Wood Fire Cafe – 541.436.0800 – Excellent wood-fired pizza, and much, much, more.

Best Start to the Day?  You’ll find great coffee at Doppio on Oak St. and the best breakfast sandwiches, head to Ground Coffee (end of Oak St).

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What to Do?

The United States designated the Columbia Gorge as a National Scenic area, with massive rock formations as high as 4,000 ft that guard the river leading to the Pacific Ocean. The national parks are pristine, and visitors walk in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark on their famous trail. Beautiful waterfalls, lush forest and hiking trails are numerous from Mt. Adams on Washington side of the river, to Mt. Hood on the Oregon side.  Even some of the Northwest’s oldest petroglyphs, the work of the Yakama Indian Nation, are not far away in Horsethief Lake State Park.

Some highlights include: Bonneville Dam Visitor’s Center, Multnomah Falls, and Crown Point.  Here are several suggestions on what to do in the area (based on a combination of our experience, concierge and locals recommendations):


Bicycling Discover Bicycles

Fishing Adventure Fishing Hot Shot Guide Service KD Guide Service Young’s Fishing Service

Golfing Husum Hills Golf Course

Gyms – Spas – Yoga Strawberry Mountain 24/7 Gym Strawberry Mt Salon & Day Spa Yoga Samadhi


Cascade Ramblings Database of 463 lakes, peaks, and trails, and 164 wildflowers

GORP – Columbia River Gorge Hiking Trails

Klickitat Trail Conservancy

Horseback Riding Northwestern Lake Riding Stables

Kayaking Kayak Shed Wet Planet Whitewater

Skiing & Snowboarding Mt Hood Meadows Downhill, Cross Country, Snowboarding

Gifford Pinchot National Forest Cross Country

Whitewater Rafting All Adventures Rafting Blue Sky Outfitters Wet Planet Whitewater Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys

Windsurfing/Kiteboarding Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association Hood River Waterplay Windance


The Hatchery Studio Arts Building: Working artists in their studios  — John Mayo – Wood & Metal Sculptures  — Craig Wilson – Guitar and mandoliin builder  — Amirra Malaka – Oil painter using figurative and calligraphic subjects  — Eric Lindsay – Graphic design, metal sculpture, photography  — Taina Hartman – Diachroic glass jewelry  — Erika Kingston – Doring Painter of sea- and landscapes

Artisan’s Jewelry & Gallery  — Custom jewelry design and repair Sharon McCormack  — Holography Peggy Ohlson Studios Oil paintings Michael Peterson  — Photography Will Richards  — Clay Canvas Designs Linda Steider, Steider Studios  — Art glass for the home, personal adornment, architectural installation Ed Swick  — Klickitat Pottery

White Salmon Arts Council White Salmon Glassworks  — Glass blowing and fusing, demonstrations, classes, gallery

Lewis & Clark Trail: Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail (NPS) National Council of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial PBS Online – Lewis & Clark Discovering Lewis & Clark Confluence Project

Shopping along Columbia River:

White Salmon, Washington

Artisan’s Jewelry & Gallery Custom jewelry design and repair

Klickitat Pottery Dishware, mugs, lamps by Ed Swick

Trellis Fresh flowers, gifts

White Salmon Boat Works Build your own wood kayak or canoe

White Salmon Glassworks Glass blowing, casting, fusing. Browse the gallery; watch artists at work

Bingen, Washington

Antiques & Oddities Native American artifacts, glass, jewelry, furniture, books, tools, baseball cards

Hood River, OR

Columbia Center for the Arts Visual, performing, and literary art events that will thrill your heart, make you think, give you a laugh, and touch your soul.

Wineries along Columbia River Gorge:

The White Salmon-Hood River region’s apple and pear orchards are being converted into vineyards, bringing wine bars and restaurants along with them.

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AniChe Cellars 71 Little Buck Creek Rd, Underwood WA 98651| | 360.624.6531 Featuring unique and traditional wine blends, AniChe Cellars handcrafts artisan wines in this small family winery. Enjoy over twenty varietals in the relaxed vineyard setting with gorgeous river views. All flights feature food pairings to compliment our balanced and food friendly wines. Personal service from the winemaker and her accomplices make this wine tasting experience special. Dogs and kids are welcome!

Cascade Cliffs Vineyard & Winery 8866 Hwy 14, Wishram, WA 98673 | | 509.767.1100 Since 1986, Cascade Cliffs has grown varietals such as Barbera, Nebbiolo, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Symphony. Our casual-sophisticated tasting room provides an up close and personal feel. Enjoy samples of our wines and browse through the vineyard. Waterfront views, towering basalt cliffs with vistas await family gatherings and outings. Rated “Best of the Best in The Pacific NW.”

COR Cellars 151 Old Highway 8, Lyle, WA 98635 | | 509.365.2744 COR Cellars is the NEXT generation of Washington wine. Our goal is to produce approachable wines of great character and distinction. We specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux blends, Alsatian style Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. Visit the Old Lyle Highway to taste where old school meets new.

Domaine Pouillon 170 Lyle Snowden Road, Lyle, WA 98635 | | 509.365.2795 Same great wines – just a new name! A small family-owned winery focused on high quality French-style Syrah, Viognier, Roussanne and Chardonnay.

Gorge Crest Winery 461 Kollock Knapp Rd, Underwood, WA 98651 | | 509.493.2026 Gorge Crest Winery is now fully licensed and operational and will bottle its first wines during the fall of 2007. The winery will focus all its energies on producing limited quantities of premium “handcrafted” wines from the Columbia Gorge region.

Illusion Winery 31 Schilling Road, Lyle, WA 98635 | | 206.261.1682 Look for our sign on Hwy 14 in Lyle or call ahead. Check website for special events and schedule. The winery in the hills above the Columbia Gorge offers sweeping views of nearby canyons and distant mountains. The 10-mile drive from Lyle on the Centerville Highway is spectacular.

Jacob Williams Winery 421 State St (Hwy 14), Lyle, WA 98635 | | 541.490.6773 Visit our new tasting room nestled in the heart of the Gorge on Hwy 14 in middle of Lyle along the banks of the Columbia River. We hand-craft limited quantities of ultra-premium Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Major Creek Cellars 306 Bates Road, White Salmon, WA 98672 | | 503.860.8713 Major Creek Cellars produces premium red wines from Washington and Oregon grapes featuring Syrah, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.

Maryhill Winery 9774 Hwy 14, Goldendale, WA 98620 | | 509.773.1976 2009 Washington Winery of the Year! Great wine. Great views. Great music. They seem to go perfectly together at one of the most scenic wineries in the U.S. Relax on Maryhill’s Tuscan style arbor and listen to FREE live music every summer weekend while picnicking and taking in the majestic views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Summer concerts featuring national acts in the Amphitheatre. Maryhill is also home of one of the largest Gift Shops in the Gorge, offering unique Jewelry, Apparel, Art, Music, Books, gifts for the home, cook and wine enthusiast.

Memaloose 101 Lyle-Snowden Rd (access from Murdock Rd), Lyle, WA 98635 | | 360.635.2887 From 17 varieties grown in our Gorge vineyard sites, Brian McCormick creates blends that conserve the fruit character without excessive oak and alcohol…bright-tasting wines for food. The Tasting Room at Mistral Ranch is an unforgettable picnic destination, providing views second only to the wines. Taste Memaloose, wines of the wind.

Syncline Wine Cellars 111 Balch Road, Lyle, WA 98635 | | 509.365.4361 Syncline’s production remains true to James’ and Poppie’s passion- a pure testament to Rhone varietals, which includes a line up of single vineyard Syrah, Voignier, Roussanne, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and blends inspired by wines of the Rhone Valley.

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Waving Tree Winery 123 Maryhill Highway, Goldendale, WA | | 509.773.6552 Waving Tree Winery is a family winery featuring mostly estate wines grown on the bank of the Columbia River just below the Stonehenge Monument. Our Italian varieties include Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Barbera. Columbus Landing (Rhone Style Blend), Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sweet Sangiovese Rosé and Orange Muscat are also available.

White Salmon Vineyard 391 Newell Road, Underwood, WA 98651| | 509.493.4640 Our wines reflect the care and love that we give to our vineyard. They express their fruit character and origin in a classic, balanced manner. White Salmon Vineyard’s winery offers tastings of estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and other Columbia Gorge AVA wines. We welcome visitors by appointment.

Wind River Cellars 196 Spring Creek Road, Husum, WA | | 509.493.2324 Wind River Cellars focuses on unique varietals from Europe that thrive in the Columbia Gorge. Have a glass of wine, relax, enjoy the view and the friendly folks in Husum, Washington!

Acknowledgements:  We would like to thank Columbia Gorge Hotel, Inn of the White Salmon for hosting us during our stay to the Columbia River Gorge.


Bonneville Dam and Locks Columbia Center for the Arts Columbia Gorge Discovery CenterColumbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum

Columbia Gorge Wine Map

Full Sail Brewing Company

The Gorge White House

Hood River County Fruit Loop

Hood River Historical Society

Hood River Lavender FarmJ

ulee’s Gorge Tours & Retreats

Lavender ValleyLost Lake Resort & Campground

Martin’s Gorge Tours

Maryhill Museum

Mt. Hood Railroad

Multnomah Falls

Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge

The Dalles Dam

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum


Columbia River Gorge Lodging Guide

Columbia River Gorge Romantic Getaway Hotels

Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association

Gorge Grown Food Network

Historic Columbia River Highway

Hood River County Chamber of Commerce

Hood River County Historical Museum

Hood River Visitors Center

Mid Columbia Gorge A to Z

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon Live

Oregon State Archive

Portland Dining Online

GOLF COURSESBeacon Rock Golf CourseHood River Golf and Country ClubIndian Creek Golf CourseSKIING

Mt. Hood Meadows

Mount Hood Ski Bowl – Winter

Mount Hood Ski Bowl – Summer

Timberline Lodge and Ski Area



Big Winds Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association

Hood River Water Play

Hood River Windsurfing

Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys


Adventure Fishing


Fly-Fishing Link



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