There’s a spectacular canyon in Oregon where the Columbia River runs through the Cascade mountain range, a sight that every nature-lover needs to see. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a true gem of the Pacific Northwest, with hiking, waterfalls, and dramatic scenery in all directions.

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Crown Point overlooking the Columbia River and the Gorge
Crown Point overlooking the Columbia River and the Gorge

Lace up your hiking boots because the Gorge is designed for exploration on foot. Depending on the season, you can walk among the wildflowers, get up-close to countless waterfalls, and even see frozen waterfalls in the wintertime. The Gorge is 80 miles long and about 4,000 feet deep, and there are actually 13 urban area communities in both Oregon and Washington that fall within the Gorge boundaries.

A wooden sign identifying Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area located in Oregon
A wooden sign identifying Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area located in Oregon

Multnomah Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Latourell Falls are three of the area’s top attractions, but there are also some great ways to get off the beaten path and find your own personal solitude at the Columbia River Gorge. Better yet, you can bring your dog to go hiking with you at the Gorge and get some exercise together.

Beyond hiking, the Gorge area is perfect for setting sail on a boat to go fishing, mountain biking on the rugged trails, and perhaps even going windsurfing around Hood River. And once you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, there are some incredible wineries and craft breweries in this region to satisfy your thirst and kick back to relax as well.

An interesting looking bridge crossing the Columbia River.
An interesting looking bridge crossing the Columbia River.

Unfortunately, some of the trails in the Gorge were destroyed by the Eagle Creek fire in 2017, but rebuilding efforts have been underway. The National Forest Service publishes a list of open trail information on the Gorge’s website, as well as a condition report for all types of recreation.

Salmon Fisherman on a cold foggy morning catching a fish
Salmon Fisherman on a cold foggy morning catching a fish

Some Forest Service recreation sites within the Columbia River Gorge require a day use fee to help maintain the facilities. For example, a day use fee is charged at Bridge of the Gods Trailhead, Dog Mountain Trailhead, and the Eagle Creek Recreation Area. However, you can access other less popular parts of the Gorge and more trails without paying anything at all.

Multnomah Falls frozen in winter in Oregon
Multnomah Falls frozen in winter in Oregon

More than two million people come to the trails here to hike each year, so come and see why the area is so popular! It’s also worth visiting in different seasons of the year even if you’ve been here before to experience a whole new side of the Columbia River Gorge.

Columbia River Gorge Information:
Office Address: 902 Wasco Avenue, Suite 200, Hood River, Oregon 97031
Phone: 541-308-1700
Official Website

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