10 Things to Do Around the Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge has been carved by the Pacific Northwest’s mightiest river, and Mount Hood is Oregon’s tallest peak. Together, they are the centerpieces of a region that inspires wonder like nowhere else. Marked by basalt cliffs, towering forests, thundering waterfalls, and shimmering lakes, this is a playground that invites deep engagement. If you’re looking for ideas, here are the top ten things to do in this beautiful region:

1. Hike Among Wildflowers and Waterfalls

wildflowers around Mount Hood
Hike among the wildflowers surrounding Mount Hood. Photo © Pamela Brown Wilkinson | Dreamstime.com

Find colorful fields in spring and summer—and towers of falling water year-round.

2. Drive the Historic Columbia River Highway

Completed in 1922, this highway showcases the Gorge’s stunning scenery. Its western stretch guides you through many star attractions, while its eastern stretch offers thrilling twists and turns.

3. Spend the Day (or Night) at Timberline Lodge

Located atop Mount Hood, the historic hotel offers atmospheric accommodations as well as North America’s only year-round skiing, popular bar-restaurants, and other diversions.

4. Sample Farm-Fresh Fare

The Gorge White House
Grab a bite to eat at the Gorge White House. Photo courtesy of Matt Wastradowski.

Numerous U-pick farms, wineries, and other producers are linked by the Hood River Fruit Loop.

5. See a Salmon Run

Witnessing the fall migration of fish making their way from the Pacific Ocean back to their home streams is a regional rite of passage.

6. Get Out on the Water

Go floating on the Sandy River, windsurfing and kiteboarding on the Columbia River, or whitewater rafting on the White Salmon River.

7. Enjoy Year-Round Recreation with Mount Hood Views

Trillium Lake
Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and experience Trillium Lake. Photo © davidgn.

A destination for water and winter sports, Trillium Lake also boasts one of the best perspectives on the mountain.

8. Sip Your Way Through Breweries and Wineries

You’ll find abundant opportunities to partake in a memorable pint or pour throughout the region, especially in the hip town of Hood River, where you can easily hop from one spot to another.

9. Camp on Mount Hood

Spend the night at scenic campgrounds that offer easy access to the mountain’s hiking trails and lakes.

10. Feel the Spray of Multnomah Falls

A visit to Oregon’s most famous falls inspires awe.

Matt Wastradowski

About the Author

Matt Wastradowski is an Oregon-based travel writer who loves writing about the great outdoors, the Pacific Northwest's craft beer and cider scene, and regional history for the likes of Willamette WeekNorthwest Travel & Life, and Portland Monthly. In between stories, he enjoys sipping Oregon-made beers on brewpub patios, perusing the stacks at independent bookstores, sampling farm-fresh fare, and hiking through the state's stunning landscapes. Matt has written three Oregon-based guidebooks about hiking, outdoor attractions, and more for Moon Travel Guides.

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