Best known among active travelers for windsurfing, the Gorge also offers unmatched hiking, climbing, and fishing. Perfectly positioned between the urban energy of Portland and the Mt. Hood ski area, the Gorge is also a gateway to visit Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and the burgeoning wine regions on either side of the river.
The Columbia River is the dividing line between Oregon and Washington, and both sides are characterized by unique towns, jaw-dropping scenery, and unbelievable outdoor adventures.
Charming towns dot the route as you wind along the river on the Washington side. From a cozy cottage for two in Washougal to a welcoming, bluff-top rental home for the whole family in Stevenson, you'll find the perfect place to relax at the end of the day.
The views of Mt. Hood don't get any better than from White Salmon, perched just across the river from vibrant Hood River. As you travel onwards toward beautiful Lyle, the landscape gradually shifts from the lush, dense forest of the western edge to high desert. Here, you'll find the four Columbia Valley wine-producing areas, or AVAs (American Viticulture Area): Columbia Gorge, Red Mountain, Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley.
The Oregon side of the gorge
Across the river, Oregon's side of the Columbia River Gorge is a little more bustling and touristy, due in no small part to "Waterfall Alley" - a long string of beautiful falls and popular hiking trails.
Closest to Portland, Cascade Locks is often thought of as the gateway to Hood River County. The city is named for a set of locks built to improve water navigation past the Cascades Rapids on the Columbia River. Also within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, this spot is famous for its sailing and windsurfing opportunities.
Hood River is a city of great restaurants, events like the Blossom Festival in April and the Hops Fest in October, wine tasting featuring Columbia Gorge AVA wines, and offering some of the best spots in the state for kayaking and mountain biking. Still being right near the Gorge, windsurfing is also king here - it's known as the windsurfing capital of the world!
Farther east, but still along the river, Mosier continues the theme of being a world-class destination for water sports, with windsurfing, paragliding, sailing, and fishing all being popular pastimes here.
Gorgeous Scenery in the Gorge
Located an hour east of Portland and about 10 minutes past Mosier, Rowena is situated among some of the most stunning vistas and geological features anywhere in the country. Protected by the Nature Conservancy, the Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena features beautiful mountain flowers in the spring and stunning scenery year-round.
And while not right on the river, but only a few miles south along Highway 35, the small town of Parkdale sits in the midst of the fertile vineyards and orchards of the Hood River Valley. This is also the highway that leads up the northern face of Mt. Hood, where amazing views of its snow-capped peak abound.
Whether you choose to stay in Washington or Oregon, every day spent in a Columbia Gorge vacation rental promises to be full of adventure, natural splendor, and unforgettable memories!
The Columbia Gorge travel inspiration
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