Columbia River Gorge: Fun Things to Do in Oregon

Just 30 minutes west of downtown Portland, the Columbia River Gorge is one of the easiest and most beautiful scenic stretches in Oregon. Here, you'll find many of the Gorge's most popular lookout points as well as major towns including Troutdale, Hood River, and The Dalles.

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Historic Columbia River Highway

Columbia River Gorge View from Chanticleer Point

Angela M. Brown

Address
Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale, OR, USA

The Historic Columbia River Highway, now a 20-mile stretch of US Highway 30, was one of the first American roads specifically built for scenic auto-touring. Opened to the public in 1915, this unique road is loaded with enchanting stonework railings and bridges, which accent the grand waterfalls and Columbia River views as you drive through lush green forest. Along the way, there are multiple places to stop and enjoy the view along with a picnic or a stroll. If you're feeling energetic, spend time on one or more of the numerous hiking trails that will take you past creeks and waterfalls.

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Outdoor Activities

Wind Surfing in the Sparkling Columbia River
Moelyn Photos / Getty Images
Address
Hood River, OR 97031, USA
Phone
+1 541-308-1700

The Columbia River Gorge is famous for its windsurfing conditions as well as its stunning beauty. Nature lovers will find plenty to appreciate, from lush forests to spring wildflowers to watchable wildlife. All of this can be enjoyed on a hike or canoe. Visitors looking for a thrill can enjoy kite surfing, rock climbing, and mountain biking.

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Vista House at Crown Point

Vista House

Angela M. Brown

Address
40700 Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97019-9725, USA
Phone
+1 503-695-2240

Perched atop one of the most spectacular viewpoints along the Columbia River Gorge, the charming Vista House offers visitors interpretive exhibits, a gift shop, and a snack bar. You can wander the grounds or climb to the roof to take in the scenery in all directions.

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Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum

Angela M. Brown

Address
5000 Discovery Dr, The Dalles, OR 97058, USA
Phone
+1 541-296-8600

This fun museum is located at the east end of the Columbia River Gorge in The Dalles. The Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Corps' activity in the region are well-covered topics. The interesting geology of the Gorge, including the impact of the Ice Age Floods, are explained both through exhibits and in film. Native Americans, the Oregon Trail, and the pioneer era, as well as the regional flora and fauna, are among the other things you can learn about during your visit.

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Bradford Island Visitor Center at Bonneville Dam

Columbia River Flowing Through Bonneville Dam Against Sky
Katie Jordan / EyeEm / Getty Images
Address
Star Route, Cascade Locks, OR 97014, USA
Phone
+1 541-374-8820

The Bonneville Dam visitor center on the Oregon side of the river houses exhibits along with an observation area to take in the views. Take a guided powerhouse tour, or watch a film at the visitor center theater. Nature trails, river access, and picnicking are also available in the park area.

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Full Sail Brewing Co. Brewery Tours & Tasting Room

Address
506 Columbia St, Hood River, OR 97031, USA
Phone
+1 541-386-2247

One of the Northwest's many great microbreweries, Full Sail Brewing Co. is located in the windsurfing mecca of Hood River, Oregon. Sign up for a free afternoon tour of the brewery, then enjoy Full Sail's brews and food at the on-site Tasting Room and Pub.

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The Dalles Lock and Dam

Address
3545 Bret Clodfelter Way, The Dalles, OR 97058, USA
Phone
+1 541-296-9778

Head to the visitor's center at The Dalles Lock and Dam to learn about the dam's construction and operations. Just make sure to leave some time to explore the beautiful Lake Celilo, a reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.

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Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler Cruise

Address
427 SW Portage Rd, Cascade Locks, OR 97014, USA
Phone
+1 541-374-8619

Sightseeing, dinner, and brunch cruises are available on this grand and colorful paddle wheeler. Columbia River Gorge cruises are available May through October and board at Marine Park at Cascade Locks. From here, you'll be able to take in the full length of the Columbia River Gorge and such landmarks as Multnomah Falls, Beacon Rock, and Bonneville Dam.

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Columbia River Gorge: Fun Things to Do in Oregon