From Troutdale to The Dalles, respectively considered the western and eastern Gateways to the Gorge, the region is rich with beauty, recreation, history and epicurean delights. In those 70 miles, the scenic byway, Historic Columbia River Highway 30, splits off from Interstate 84 along the Columbia in two sections – Troutdale to Bonneville Dam and Mosier to The Dalles. The byway gives spectacular views of the most concentrated stretch of waterfalls in the country. At 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America after Yosemite Falls; Multnomah Falls can be visited from either the scenic byway or from I-84. Heading east, you can visit Bonneville Dam, Cascade Locks, Hood River and The Dalles.
“When I tell people I live in the Columbia River Gorge, the word I hear most often is lucky,” says Kerry Cobb, who moved to Hood River in 2010 to become executive director of the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. Cobb and her husband had owned a vacation home in the Gorge since 2004. “Anyone who has been to this part of Oregon knows that the scenery here is spectacular. Many people come in the summer to visit the Fruit Loop … a scenic drive through the Hood River Valley filled with farm stands, alpaca ranches, lavender farms, and wineries — and acres and acres of fruit orchards.”
“Hood River has been called the windsurfing capital of the world for a long time – it’s kind of folklore here and within the windsurfing community. Although kiteboarding and stand-up paddle boarding are just as popular here now too,” says Cobb.
Jeff Hammer, who says he will always consider himself a New York Jew, moved to Hood River 30 years ago for the skiing and windsurfing. Now founder and owner of North Pacific Surfboards, Hammer explains why the Gorge has gained such renown.
“Think of the Columbia Gorge as a mountain pass through the heart of the Cascade Mountains at only 150 feet above sea level. It acts like a funnel to create a Venturi effect between the cool moist marine air from the coast (North Pacific high) and the hot dry desert to the East (thermal low pressure). These winds blow against the river current creating large rolling river swells ideal for windsurfing,” explains Hammer.
While many places have staked a claim as the windsurfing capital of the world, a July 9, 2002, article in Forbes does list the Columbia Gorge on its list of 10 best places to windsurf in the world: “For a do-it-all outdoors trip, go to the Gorge. It has one of the premier windsurfing spots in the country – plus Mount Hood, rain forests, waterfalls and multi-day hiking trails. Some have called it the next Moab for its superb mountain biking.”
In addition, Cobb says summer activities include road biking, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, skateboarding, sailing, horseback riding, fishing, boating, camping, off-roading and golfing. Downtown Hood River offers a variety of unique shops (like alpaca clothing stores, handmade jewelry shops, locally made art, etc.) and eight wine tasting rooms featuring selections from the more than 40 wineries around Hood River. And craft beer is well represented in Hood River, which is the home of Full Sail Brewery, Double Mountain brewery and Pfriem brewery.
For more information, visit www.westcolumbiagorgechamber.com, www.hoodriver.org or www.thedalleschamber.com.
- Columbia Gorge Havurah
What we do: Celebrations of the major holidays such as a tashlich hike on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur break the fast, Purim, Hanukah and Passover, and some Shabbat gatherings.
Brings together people families and singles of all ages from as far as Stevenson, WA, and Hood River, The Dalles, Mount Hood, Parkdale, Cascade Locks, Mosier, Dee and Odell.
Coordinator: Emily Kohner, firstname.lastname@example.org or
541-806-0069 (evenings only).