Oregon And Washington: Columbia Gorge Visitors Guide - My Family Travels

When we invited friends and family to our wedding celebration/housewarming party at our new home in the Columbia Gorge, we compiled a list of places to stay and things to do on both the Oregon and Washington sides of the river. Here are some ideas we wanted to share with you.

Ways to Play

There are a lot of things to do in our area, especially for active families. You can try whitewater rafting or kayaking on the White Salmon and Deschutes Rivers. Try Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys (800/366-2004) or Deschutes River Adventures (800/723-8464).

Mountain Biking is fun, with lots of local trails. Bike rentals are available from several shops in Hood River. One is Discover Bicycles (541/386-4820). Those with smaller children will especially want to try a cruise on the Columbia River on a historic sternwheeler with Cascade Sternwheelers (503/374-8427). You can also take a ride on the historic Mt. Hood Railroad (800/872-4661).

Windsurfing rentals and/or lessons can be had locally in many places; one to try might be Hood River Water Play (800/963-7873) From the hot to the cold, try summer skiing and snowboarding on Mt. Hood at Timberline Ski Area. Timberline Lodge (503/622-7979) is where “The Shining” was filmed!

All ages can try hiking, backpacking, and climbing on Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and the Central Cascades, if you get proper advice on suitable trails. There is also world-class climbing at Smith Rocks State Park (800/551-6949) in central Oregon.

Fishing for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon is popular. Try Rivers Bend Outfitters (541/296-5949) or Young’s Fishing Service (800/270-7962). There are other sights too, for example, waterfalls, waterfalls, and more waterfalls – many are just a short distance from the road. Golf can be played on several local courses. The Carson Hot Springs (509/427-8292) are pretty funky.

Places to Stay

We are making a lot of suggestions because the Columbia Gorge is a very popular summer destination; you’ll have to reserve ahead! Here are recommended hotels and inns.

Inn of the White Salmon (800/972-5226, 509/493-2335)
Located on the main street in White Salmon, WA. It is “European style” (small rooms and full of antiques) but does have a hot tub out back. It is clean and comfortable and they provide breakfast with the room price.

Hood River Inn (800/828-7873)
This is an upscale Best Western motel located on the Oregon end of the bridge. There are lots of water-related activities and a park within walking distance. There is a good restaurant called the Riverside Grill in the motel as well.

Hood River Hotel (800/386-1859, 541/386-1900)
Another European style hotel located in downtown Hood River. A great Pacific Northwest/Mediterranean restaurant, Pasquale’s, is on the first floor.

There are many other motels in Hood River that we don’t know much about. Three such are the Riverview Lodge (541/386-8719), Meredith Gorge Motel (541/386-1515), and Vagabond Lodge (877/386-2992, 541/386-2992).

Lyle Hotel (800/447-6310, 509/365-5953)
Yet another European style hotel with only nine rooms, located in the small town of Lyle, WA. We hear that the food in the restaurant is the best to be had on the Washington side of the river but don’t know anything about the rooms.

Econolodge (800/424-4777, 509/427-5628)
Located in Stevenson, WA along the Columbia River.

Skamania Lodge (800/221-7117, 509/427-2503)
Beautiful lodge with golf course, hiking trails, and an excellent restaurant. Located in the hills just west of Stevenson.

Bingen School Inn (509/493-3363)
A hostel-style place to stay on a tight budget. Private rooms are $40-$45/N and “bring your own sleeping bag” hostel accommodations are $16/N. Looks like it could be fun.

There are many B&Bs both in Hood River, OR and in the small town of Trout Lake, WA, near Mt. Adams. For information, try visiting the web sites of the Oregon and Washington B&B Guilds.

For that home-away-from-home feeling, you may be considering a rental home; try out Gorge Central Vacation Rentals (541/386-6109) if you’re looking to stay in a house or condo.

Of the camping choices, there’s Memaloose State Park (541/478-3008) 11 miles east of Hood River on I-84. Viento State Park (541/374-8811) is 8 miles west of Hood River on I-84. Tucker Park (541/386-4477) is up the hill about 15 minutes south of Hood River.

Venturing to Portland

And finally, for those who have time to tour the area, here are some of our favorite things in Portland, Oregon. Microbreweries, coffeehouses, art galleries, Powell’s Books (503/228-4651)–the world’s largest bookstore, the Japanese Garden (503/223-1321), and the Rose Gardens (503/823-6007).

First published by FTF in 2005.

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