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. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center

Time prints of the millennia are boldly etched on the walls of the Columbia Gorge. They record a 40-million-year-long story of change, endurance and majesty. The first human imprints in the Gorge were left by the Indian cultures that flourished here for thousands of years, drawing both spiritual and physical strength from this.

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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. Captain William Clark Park

On March 31, 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark established a camp at Cottonwood Beach while they secured provisions for the return trip through the Columbia River Gorge. Almost 200 years later, a multi-jurisdictional effort celebrated the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial in 2006 by opening Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach.

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9. 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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