Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River cut this dramatic gap between the Cascade Mountains on its way to the Pacific Ocean eons ago. Lewis and Clark explored this path centuries ago. Today, modern travelers are awestruck at the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway.

Drive through a land where white water leaps over cliffs to join the Columbia River. Watch shadows play in the creases of 4,000-foot-high basalt walls. Hike to breathtaking vistas of Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams and Mount Hood. Join the rush of the water; kayak or windsurf between the river’s wide banks. The mighty Columbia will leave its mark on you, just as it has on this land.

CLICK TO EXPLORE ON MAP to find more things to do, places to stay and eat along this route.

1. Maryhill Museum & Stonehenge

Housed in a spectacular Beaux Arts mansion on 5,300 acres, Maryhill Museum of Art features special exhibitions and world-class permanent collections. These include more than 80 works by Auguste Rodin, European and American paintings, objects d'art from the palaces of the Queen of Romania who was a close confident of founder Sam Hill, Orthodox icons, unique chess sets, and the renowned Théâtre de la Mode, featuring small-scale mannequins attired in designer fashions of post-World War II France.

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2. Petroglyphs at Columbia Hills

In October 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped by Horsethief Lake on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Today the site is perhaps best known for camping and the extraordinary display of Native petroglyphs that were saved from inundation by the John Day Dam. You can view several centuries-old petroglyphs from the parking lot, but for the really good stuff, you'll need to take one of the scheduled tours.

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3. Gorge Heritage Museum

The Gorge Heritage Museum is housed in the former Bingen Congregational Church, which was dedicated in May, 1912. The Museum was established in 1984 by the West Klickitat County Historical Society to promote interest in the legacy passed to us by the native people and the immigrants who settled and traded in the mountainous river valleys and along the Columbia River.

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4. Wet Planet Whitewater

The best whitewater rafting and kayaking in the Columbia River Gorga area! The towering volcanic peak of Mount Adams not only anchors the sky above the Columbia River Gorge, but also feeds rivers for some of the best whitewater rafting and kayaking in the country. Drawing visitors from all over the world, the White Salmon, Wind, and Klickitat Rivers offer an amazing adventure for whitewater enthusiasts and novices alike. Besides excellent whitewater, rafters and kayakers are also rewarded with lush forests, pristine glacially-fed water, and a unique volcanic landscape. 

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5. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center

Located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum brings to life the human stories and natural history of one of our nation’s most compelling landscapes. The Skamania County Historical Society assembles, collects, preserves, exhibits and makes available for future generations any and all historical data, information and artifacts, obtained for the education and enjoyment of Skamania County and Columbia River Gorge residents and visitors.

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6. Bonneville Dam & Fish Ladder Tours

The Bonneville Lock and Dam spans the Columbia River, providing electricity and flood control, as well as creating recreational areas. The dam was started in 1934, replacing locks and a canal built in 1896, as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal construction projects. It was completed three years later, with a second powerhouse added in 1974. The dam produces an enormous amount of hydroelectric power – more than 1,180 megawatts between the two powerhouses.

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7. Fort Cascades

Fort Cascades, built in 1855, is one of several forts built to protect the portage around the Cascade Rapids. The site has a 1.5 mile interpretive trail where visitors may learn about the history of the site which was used by Native American Tribes, the Army in the 1850s, travelers on the Oregon Trail and the early fishing industry.

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8. Beacon Rock State Park

Located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Beacon Rock is the core of an ancient volcano. The mile-long trail to its summit provides outstanding panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge. The park has over 20 miles of roads and trails open to hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use.

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9. Captain William Clark Park

On March 31, 1806, after learning from native tribes that food was scarce to the east, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark ordered the Corps of Discovery to remain at “Provision Camp,” a location that is today known as Cottonwood Beach in Washougal, Washington.

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10. Pendleton Woolen Mills Tour

Take a tour of the Washougal plant where the famous Pendleton Blankets are manufactured then be sure to swing through neighboring Camas for a glimpse of small town charm on the Columbia.

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