Last week, we started talking about the Centennial Celebration for the Historic Columbia River Highway. This is the perfect year for RVers to take a road trip along the Columbia River, so this week we want to share some of our favorite must-sees for RVers in the area.
First though, how about a little theme music for your road trip? The obvious choice is Woody Guthrie’s “Roll on Columbia!”
There is a lot to do along the Columbia River, including hiking and biking, windsurfing, paddle boarding and kayaking, whitewater rafting trips, golf, fishing, boating, visiting breweries and wineries, taking sternwheeler river cruises, shopping and more. As we said last week, you could easily spend a week here and not see everything there is to see.
The Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge is famous for its waterfalls—it has the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America, and features eight different varieties of falls from the classic “plunge” falls to “punchbowl” and “horsetail” types.
Along the Historic Columbia River Highway itself, there are five waterfalls between Corbett and Dodson, including the easily accessible Multnomah Falls, which is the most visited recreation site in the Pacific Northwest and well worth the visit as it plunges 620 feet.
Bonneville Lock and Dam, and Reservoir
Looking for a beautiful place to swim, picnic, take the boat out or go for a hike? Bonneville Reservoir is the spot to do it. Bonneville Lock and Dam has three recreation areas, a fishing area, a fish hatchery, hiking and walking trails and a visitor center. The rock walls of the Gorge rise 2,000 feet above the lake, so you can appreciate the dramatic beauty of the area while you’re there. Visitors can also get a closeup view of the operation of two of the nation’s largest hydroelectric powerhouses. And be sure to head down to the underwater viewing rooms next to the fish ladders and watch the migrating fish travel upstream.
Great Places for Foodies
Most people know that Portland is a hot spot for foodies. But you don’t have to hit the city to get great food while you’re driving the Historic Columbia River Highway. Whether you’re looking for a hometown breakfast, a perfect pub, someplace to taste famous Oregon wines, a dinner with a view of the Gorge, or something else entirely, you can find it. Check out these suggestions from Portland chef and restaurateur Paul Decarli, who knows the best places for foodies along the Columbia. Or if you’re looking for classic Gorge food—the places where the locals eat—Eileen Garvin’s article at Travel Oregon will point you in the right direction.
And remember, there are loads of wineries, breweries and cideries in the area, as well as a whisky distillery in Hood River.
Museums & Historical Spots
Since this is a Centennial Celebration, it’s also a great time to visit the The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum. They have both permanent museum exhibits—including one on the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area—as well as a Kids Explorer Room, a raptor program, a theater and short-term special exhibits. In May, they’re hosting a 75th anniversary musical tribute to the Woody Guthrie BPA Columbia River Collection.
Another museum not to miss when you’re in the area is the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington. Housed in a dramatic mansion built by businessman and attorney, Samuel Hill (who was also the man who conceived of the Historic Columbia River Highway), the museum has a number of excellent permanent exhibits. In honor of the Centennial Celebration, they are also featuring a special exhibit on Sam Hill and the Columbia River Highway. This will include photos showing both the early construction of the highway and scenic views of the Gorge, many of which are from Sam Hill’s personal photo collection.
And while you’re at Maryhill, take a quick drive over to the Stonehenge Memorial, another of Sam Hill’s brainchilds and the first WWI memorial in the U.S.
Remember to check in on the calendar of events in the Columbia River Gorge area for the time you plan to be there. Oregon and Washington have wonderful small towns along the river that know how to throw a party and make you feel welcome.
Happy road-tripping! If you have any questions or if you want to talk RVs, give us a call or come on by Guaranty RV in Junction City.