Chad Scott / 500px

Columbia River Gorge

Cleanly dividing Oregon and Washington is the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, which was carved some 15,000 years ago by cataclysmic glaciers and floods. Driving east from Portland on I-84 (or on the scenic Historic Columbia River Hwy) has you passing high waterfalls and nearly vertical mountain walls, that parallel the mighty Columbia.

Hikers are spoiled in the gorge, which features many trails that lead through fern-lined canyons and gushing rivers, and across wildflower fields to grand vistas. Summer wind sports are legendary – the gorge channels westerlies inland against the current, creating world-class windsurfing and kiteboarding conditions. There are also mountain-biking and rafting possibilities, especially around Hood River.

Not into strenuous activity? The gorge offers highlights such as easy-to-reach, magnificent waterfalls, agricultural bounties (don't miss the cherries in July!), and fine wine, beer and cider tasting. This is a special place, so take time to enjoy it.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Columbia River Gorge.