Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area
MAP Route: (Oregon side)
Historic Columbia River Highway from Troutdale to Multnomah
So it’s a blustery day, the kind where cold rain slashes horizontally and you’d love to stay in bed until July. Head east up the gorge and once past Hood River, odds are the weather will be nice. Possibly warm, with sun. The Pacific Northwest is fun that way. West of the Cascade Mountain Range rain exhausts itself and sun reigns east.
Volcanoes, cataclysmic floods and thousands of
years of erosion have made this spectacular region world famous.
With Washington State to the north and Oregon to the south, the
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 80 miles
of scenic splendor. You can do it all in one day, but why? Leisurely
segments make this... [more]
McMenamins Edgefield Manor in Troutdale www.mcmenamins.com. Black Rabbit fine dining, brewpub, a variety of renovated buildings and sheds now house bars & hideaway snack shacks always whimsical atmosphere.
Don’t miss The View Point Inn www.theviewpointinn.com near Corbett, fantastic food & stunning view west of Columbia River valley.
So many great places to eat in Hood River: Chic and savory Celilo Restaurant & Bar www.celilorestaurant.com.
These three have outdoor dining and partial river views, near downtown shops: Three Rivers Grill www.3riversgrill.com, Sixth Street Bistro & Loft www.sixthstreetbistro.com and Brian’s Pour House www.brianspourhouse.com.
Coffee, teas and home-baked goodies? Doppio Coffee + Lounge http://doppiocoffeelounge.com.
If you suddenly have an urge for a milkshake and a Porsche, there’s the combination ice cream shop/vintage Porsche automobile showroom in tiny Mosier (exit 69). Really. Route 30 Classics and Roadside Refreshments has espresso, ice cream, snacks and auto-centric souvenirs. Fair Warning: Shakes made with milk & flavored ice cream, no syrup. Good River Café www.goodriverrestaurant.com 541.478.0199 has terrific bistro food and cocktails. Locals rave about Sunday brunch. Fair Warning: opens 5 p.m. Wed through Sat dinners & happy hour only; Sunday Brunch. Owners can be, um, brusque. I miss the small friendly town café atmosphere rather than the striving-for-urban chic re-do. 10-Speed East 541.478.2104, funky little café with small batch roasted coffees, panninis, local beer, bakery goods. Fair Warning: friendly service, that is, seriously slow.
Lunch in The Dalles at the historic Baldwin Saloon www.baldwinsaloon.com with its magnificent antique bar and walls full of vintage landscape and bawdy paintings. Petite Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie www.provence-portland.com yes, it’s the same mouth-watering pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches as the Lake Oswego site.
Café Maryhill at the Maryhill Museum of Art www.maryhillmuseum.org (open March 15-Novemver 15) has sandwiches (local smoked salmon) and drinks that you can take outdoors to wallow in the spectacular view.
The Lyle Hotel www.lylehotel.com — drinks on the patio, warm breezes and excellent dinners & wines.
[Spur Loop: Serenity’s www.serenitys.com at Trout Lake, The Logs Family Restaurant at BZ Corners for steaks & burgers — it’s the log lodge right on the Hwy. 141. Hooba’s www.killerburgers.com at Husum Hills Golf Course for brews, wine, terrific salads, burgers and fish tacos, sometimes savory pulled pork.]
At White Salmon, there’s Everybody’s Brewing www.everybodysbrewing.com, spacious new pub. Find more outstanding salads, brews, wine, handcrafted wood fired pizza and local art at Solstice Café www.solsticewoodfirecafe.com in Bingen.
Love the sturgeon spread at Big River Grill www.bigrivergrill.us in Stevenson, the tacos and burritos at La Casa de Sabor (“House of Flavors” yes!) 230 SW 1st St. Drinks and smoked salmon chowder at the River Rock Lounge in Skamania Lodge www.skamania.com.
McMenamin’s Edgefield Manor www.mcmenamins.com 1911 Georgian-revival style grand manor former poor house, now the centerpiece of a fanciful village resort (gardens, 3-par golf, pool, movie theater, day spa. And how many resorts have a their own hand-crafted beer, wine, spirits and art everywhere you look?). Fair Warning: “European-style guestrooms” that is, some shared bathrooms.
Don’t miss the splendid historic roadhouse View Point Inn www.theviewpointinn.com perched high above the Columbia River near Corbett. Think sunset views over drinks and dinner. Rooms have delicious flair as does the food. Le Petite Alcove room beckons as a luxurious hedonistic hideaway. Fair Warning: Only the Roosevelt Suite has an ensuite bathroom; for other rooms, it’s a jaunt downstairs.
The homey & inviting 1926 former roadhouse, Bridal Veil Lodge Bed & Breakfast www.bridalveillodge.com was once owned by the current innkeeper’s great-grandfather. A small cottage has back-to-back rooms with private decks. One room’s floor-to-ceiling many-paned window faces a woodsy hill. Simple and cozy with down comforters.
The handsome 1920s Mediterranean Revival style Columbia Gorge Hotel has reopened. Fair Warning: I haven't checked out the resurrection yet.
The restored 1913 historic Hood River Hotel www.hoodriverhotel.com is conveniently in down town Hood River, clean and modestly furnished. A tiny vintage elevator, brass fittings and all, makes its way slowly & somewhat shakily up the three-story building. You don’t have to be fortified before taking the elevator, but couches in front of the fireplace are a nice place for drinks. Good food & wine in the adjacent Cornerstone restaurant/bar. Fair warning: Weigh river view with noisy night trains vs. quieter interior rooms.
Villa Columbia Bed and Breakfast, Hood River www.villacolumbia.com Beautifully restored 1911 Craftsman bungalow, a gracious haven just two blocks from downtown. Polished hardwood floors, oriental rugs, and handsome antiques feel distinctly European, reflecting its charming owners’ heritage. Gourmet breakfasts. Fair Warning: “Views” are mostly obscured over rooftops and trees.
The Queen Anne beauty Mosier House Bed and Breakfast www.mosierhouse.com overlooks the Columbia. Original hardwood floors and polished woodwork shine without Victorian embellishment. Bathrooms, although down the hall for most rooms, are spotless. Rooms look out onto grassy lawns, trees, and gardens, some with glimpses of the gorge. Love those porches. Take in the view and breathe that crisp, clean east-of-the-mountains air. Fair Warning: linens are just OK and crinkly plastic liners cover mattresses, just like a cheap motel.
The Lyle Hotel www.lylehotel.com was
built in 1905 to accommodate railroad workers and travelers and
is one of the last remaining original buildings in the small
town of Lyle. The ten-room hotel has been restored and bathrooms
remain down the hall. Barely visible from a few rooms, the Columbia
River is a short walk away through a lovely natural area full
of birds and critters. Watch for foxes. [ARCHIVES: The
Continental breakfast provided in the spacious dining room, terrific
meals and excellent local & regional wines. Outdoor patio
bar when weather permits. Fair warning: Restoration ongoing & it
was a railroad hotel, so naturally, is next to the tracks. Earplugs
You won’t be disappointed with the Inn of the White Salmon www.innofthewhitesalmon.com even though the bed and breakfast inn is hidden within a non-descript vintage brick apartment style building. Rooms include hostel-type accommodations. Renovations are ongoing from musty Victorian antique-filled inn to Scandinavian-influenced lean and clean décor. Enthusiastic owners offer recreation packages (white water rafting, snow sports) with transportation. Fantastic breakfasts included.
Carson Ridge Cabins www.carsonridgecabins.com new cozy cabins, stylishly rustic with luxurious linens and gas fireplaces. Gourmet breakfasts included.
Carson Mineral Hot Springs & Golf Resort www.carsonhotspringresort.com Fair Warning: The old spa still stands as does the historic St. Martin hotel but uninspired renovations have spoiled much (restaurant & rooms closed, cabins razed). New motel-like structures are more comfortable than the old cabins, where sagging beds could break your back, but where’s the charm?
Columbia Gorge Riverside Lodge www.cgriversidelodge.com Themed rooms in rustic log cabins on the waterfront. Kitchenettes and gas fireplaces, shared spas and decks. Fair Warning: near railroad tracks, earplugs provided.
The dramatic destination resort Skamania Lodge www.skamania.com has breathtaking gorge views, stunning lobby and NW art along with resort amenities — spa, golf, restaurant and lounge. Known for its Sunday Brunch and salmon chowder. Fair Warning: Expensive Sunday & "special" buffets can be disappointing. Tons of food, but who likes tepid or cold dishes? If you do, indulge. But it's pretty much Quantity vs. Quality. Nearly every motel across the country has free breakfast buffets these days & you can fix your own (hot!) waffles for free...Let me know if you've had an excellent dining room experience here.
Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and Spa www.bonnevilleresort.com European influenced spa retreat, posh spa interior with pool, yet motel-style rooms with faux brocade décor. Some rooms have large private hot springs fed hot tubs. Fair Warning: small tubs in spa.
Bonneville Lock & Dam: Bonneville Fish Hatchery, lock navigation and salmon fish viewing windows, interpretive center, sturgeon pond (I-84 / Exit 40) www.nwp.usace.army.mil; in Hood River four fun things – the“Fruit Loop” tour and Mt. Hood Railroad excursions www.mthoodrr.com [see Mt. Hood article]. WAAAM! Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum www.waaamuseum.org and the International Museum of Carousel Art www.carouselmuseum.com. Columbia Gorge Discovery Center / Wasco County Historical Museum, (I -84 Exit 82) www.gorgediscovery.org. The Dalles Historic Walking Tours & Surgeon’s Quarters www.historicthedalles.org. Maryhill Museum of Art www.maryhillmuseum.org Lewis and Clark interpretation, stunning gorge overlook, native plant gardens, fascinating collections. Horsethief Lake/Columbia Hills State Park authentic petroglyphs and pictographs. 2.5 miles east of Lyle. www.stateparks.com/horsethief_lake.html Columbia River Gorge Interpretive Center Stevenson www.columbiagorge.org.
Spas: Carson Mineral Hot Springs www.carsonhotspringresort.com Get tickets for soaking and massages at the hotel lobby still unappealingly cluttered & unkempt. The 1920s ramshackle bathhouse (separate men and women facilities) has been updated a bit but luckily, still has the nearly 100-year old extra long, deep, mineral encrusted tubs for luxurious soaks. Follow up with a wrap. Relax in a hallucinatory suspended state and you won’t care what misguided owners have done to the former funky favorite. Fair Warning: no lockers, only open baskets & don’t wear jewelry into corrosive waters. New cautions about drinking the mineral water & sometimes chatty young inexperienced help. Waterleaf Spa at Skamania Lodge www.skamania.com luxurious, upscale, divine hot rocks treatment, pool, hot tub. Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and Spa www.bonnevilleresort.com lovely new sleek European style, beautiful indoor/outdoor pool, nice lounge area. Fair Warning: Sometimes inattentive young, chatty (with each other) front desk clerks; “long” tubs just fit me at 5’5” anyone taller can’t submerge.
Wine Country: There are over 40 vineyards in the Columbia Gorge Appellation on both sides of the river www.columbiagorgewine.com. Phelps Creek is located on Hood River golf course, how perfect is that? Don’t have time to cruise? Downtown Hood River has tasting rooms: The Pines 1852 Tasting Room www.thepinesvineyard.com and Quenett tasting room www.quenett.com. At The Dalles, Erin Glenn Winery www.eringlenn.com is ensconced in the historic fortress-like Mint and The Sunshine Mill Artisan Plaza & Winery www.sunshinemill.com is a renovated flour mill w/shops and condos. In Washington, Maryhill Winery www.maryhillwinery.com wine sampling with a drop-dead gorge view. Wind River Cellars www.windrivercellars.com wine with Mt. hood view.