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10 Things to Do in the Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is an 80-mile-long canyon in the Pacific Northwest. It's bordered to the north by Washington and to the south by Oregon. It runs from the confluence of the Columbia and Deschutes all the way to the Portland area.

It's a very popular recreation area that is known for its amazing hikes, campgrounds, waterfalls, and historic sites. From Ainsworth State Park to Rowena Crest, there are near-endless places to visit and things to do in the Columbia River Gorge.

No matter what time of year it is, you can spend quality time exploring the Gorge. Winter, in particular, is quite beautiful as long as you keep an eye on the road conditions, but spring hikes in Oregon along the Gorge are the most popular.

10 Things to Do in the Columbia River Gorge

Things to Do in the Columbia River Gorge

Explore Multnomah Falls

Oregon's tallest waterfall.

Multnomah Falls

A visit to the Columbia River Gorge wouldn't be complete without witnessing the majestic Multnomah Falls. This stunning waterfall cascades down a height of 620 feet, creating a mesmerizing sight.

Adventurous souls can embark on a hike to the top, enjoying the lush greenery and the soothing sound of rushing water along the way. For those seeking a shorter trek, the paved trail to the Benson Bridge offers a closer view of the falls and makes for an excellent photo opportunity.

Plus, there is plenty of great camping near Multnomah Falls.

Hike the Gorge

Home to 100s of miles of trails.

Looking down towards the Columbia River Gorge
Looking down towards the Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is a haven for hiking enthusiasts, boasting an array of picturesque trails that cater to all levels of experience. One popular trail is Eagle Creek, which takes you through a lush canyon, past stunning waterfalls, and across thrilling suspension bridges.

Angel's Rest offers panoramic views of the gorge, while the unique and narrow Oneonta Gorge leads you through a breathtaking slot canyon. Wahclella Falls trail, on the other hand, immerses you in a tranquil forest setting as you hike towards a magnificent waterfall. You might also enjoy visiting Latourell Falls and Gorton Creek Falls.

Visit Hood River

Home to hikes, restaurants, and shops.

Rowena Crest near Hood River
Rowena Crest near Hood River

Just a short drive from the Columbia River Gorge, the vibrant town of Hood River beckons with its outdoor adventures and scenic beauty. Known as the windsurfing capital of the world, Hood River is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. You can try your hand at windsurfing, kiteboarding, or paddleboarding on the Columbia River.

Beyond the water, Hood River offers a thriving food and beverage scene, with local breweries, wineries, and farm-to-table restaurants. Stroll through the downtown area, browse boutique shops, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center

Explore the history of the area.

Columbia River Gorge
A view from high up in the Columbia River Gorge

Dive into the rich history and natural wonders of the Columbia River Gorge at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. This educational facility showcases fascinating exhibits that delve into the area's geology, wildlife, and Native American heritage.

Experience the raptor program, where you can observe birds of prey up close or take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful botanical garden. The center also hosts special events, lectures, and guided tours to enhance your understanding of this remarkable region.

Wine tasting

The region is known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Vineyards in the Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia Gorge Wine Region is a hidden gem for wine enthusiasts. With its diverse microclimates and volcanic soil, the region produces a wide range of varietals, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Syrah. Explore the numerous wineries and vineyards scattered throughout the area, offering both stunning views and exceptional wines.

Many wineries provide tasting rooms where you can sample their latest vintages, learn about the winemaking process, and savor the flavors of the Columbia River Gorge in a glass.

Bonneville Lock and Dam

The Bonneville Dam is powerful enough to run 900,000 homes.

Bonneville Dam

Visit the Bonneville Lock and Dam, an impressive engineering feat that spans the Columbia River. Take a guided tour to learn about the dam's history and its impact on the region's hydroelectric power generation, and witness the locks in action as ships pass through.

Don't miss the opportunity to view the fish ladder, where you can observe salmon and other fish species migrating upstream.

Scenic Drives

Create a scenic drive of your choice, stopping anywhere on either side of the river.

Crown Vista point
The view from the Top of Crown Vista Point

Embark on a scenic drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway, a designated National Scenic Byway. Marvel at the breathtaking vistas as you wind your way through lush forests, towering cliffs, and stunning overlooks.

Stop at viewpoints such as Crown Point and Women's Forum for panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge. Keep an eye out for cascading waterfalls and picturesque spots like Latourell Falls and Horsetail Falls along the way.

White Water Rafting

Challenge yourself or try something easier.

White water rafting

Experience the thrill of white water rafting on the mighty Columbia River. Several outfitters in the area offer guided rafting trips suitable for all skill levels.

Challenge the rapids, navigate through canyons, and enjoy the exhilarating rush as you paddle along the scenic river. It's a fantastic way to appreciate the power and beauty of the Columbia River Gorge from a different perspective.

Maryhill Museum of Art

Explore unique art collections.

Located near the eastern edge of the Columbia River Gorge, the Maryhill Museum of Art is a cultural gem. Explore its extensive collection of art from around the world, including European paintings, Native American artifacts, and an intriguing exhibition on the life and works of Auguste Rodin.

The museum is also surrounded by beautiful grounds featuring sculptures and breathtaking views of the river and surrounding landscape.

Rock Climbing

Try out classic PNW basalt climbing.

Best Rock Climbing in Portland

For outdoor enthusiasts seeking an adrenaline rush, rock climbing in the Columbia River Gorge is a thrilling adventure. The area offers a variety of rock formations and cliffs suitable for climbers of different skill levels.

Join a guided climbing tour or hire a local guide to explore the vertical world of the gorge. Enjoy the challenge of scaling the cliffs while being rewarded with stunning views of the river and the gorge's dramatic landscape.

Explore the area with our guide to the best rock climbing near Portland.

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