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Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

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Marietta, Georgia
posts: 320
Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

We have 3 days the first week of Oct. 2013 to see the Colombia River Gorge. We are interested in outdoor activities including hiking, waterfalls, great vistas, etc... i realize many of the specific sights are on the Oregon side, but wonder about staying on the Washington side to realize a quieter,less crowded, more laid back atmosphere.

Of course we would drive to Oregon side to see the waterfalls and do the must-do hikes like Eagle Creek, etc... Is this reasonable, or should we just stay in Cascade Locks or Hood River?

Thanks for any help. We are from Georgia and have never been to Oregon.

Renton, WA
posts: 1,865
1. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

With three days you can see both sides. I would go east from Portland on I-84 to Hood River, stay overnight and return west on Washington SR 14. Multnomah Falls is the must-see on the south side of the river, although there are other falls; on the north side there is Maryhill, which is a miniature Stonehenge. There is a neat aviation museum at Pearson Airpark in Vancouver, if you are into airplanes.

Oregon
posts: 382
reviews: 27
2. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

I agree with bobmrg -- head east on the Oregon side, and back on the Washington side. Hopefully the historic highway will be back in business in a year and you can meander east on that -- plenty of waterfalls, hikes, vistas [from the appropriately named Vista House]. Hood River would be my choice for a place to stay -- it's small enough to be charming, but large enough to have interesting shops, a restaurant selection, etc.

On the Washington side is Maryhill Museum [the grounds are lovely even if you don't care for museums]; petroglyphs; more vistas; Beacon Rock [a hike for the brave!]; small towns. We stayed at Skamania Lodge many years ago and enjoyed that -- if you are in the mood for a bit more luxury in a slightly isolated setting.

Oregon/Washington
Destination Expert
for Portland, Sunriver
posts: 8,699
reviews: 70
3. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

I agree, both sides have a lot to offer. Be sure to use the old scenic highway instead of the interstate (84) as much as possible. There is so much to see along there.

A couple other things on the WA side that have not been mentioned yet are the Stonehenge replica at Maryhill, the Maryhill Winery, and Horsethief Butte.

A great little place in Stevenson, WA for a meal is the Big River Grill. Great food and wonderful local beer and wines.

As for particular hikes, what are you looking for in terms of mileage and elevation?

Troutdale, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Hood River, Troutdale, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Portland, Oregon
posts: 6,155
reviews: 81
4. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

The old scenic highway is always a good drive. There are a couple of good restaurants along the way. Both I-84 and the old highway have good views.

The National Scenic Area runs from Troutdale to The Dalles on the Oregon side. The waterfalls and hikes and beauty also runs both sides. You should investigate the multiple daily freight trains on both sides of the river before deciding. If you are a light sleeper that may help you decide. The hotels that are well insulated or further away from the railroad have a romantic train whistle at best..

You could check out www.nwhiker.com to find hikes you may like. Many listed have great histories

Happy planning and when you decide your schedule more, let us know so that we might offer suggestions on what you can do in the area.

I am pretty sure you will love this area.

Mrs O.

Edited: 6:05 pm, November 08, 2012
Marietta, Georgia
posts: 320
5. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

Wow! Ya'll are great. I am primarily interested in accomodations on the Washington side, but I agree they are pretty limited...the Skamania Lodge is too much for me!

We can handle 7-8 mile roundtrip hikes with significant elevation change....besides the classic ones, any off the beaten track recommendations? We hope to do Beacon Rock as well. Mtngrl mentioned Horsethief butte...I haven't encountered that one on my research....please elaborate?

Renton, WA
posts: 1,865
6. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

"have not been mentioned yet are the Stonehenge replica at Maryhill,"

Did you read post #1?

Marietta, Georgia
posts: 320
7. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

Sorry, I cut myself off prematurely. I realize that train noise is a consideration in choice of accomodation, on both sides of the gorge. Rather than right on the river, we prefer to stay higher up with elevated views of the gorge and river. Any recommendations, particularly on the Washington side, but on the Oregon side as well.

Thanks so much.

Marietta, Georgia
posts: 320
8. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

Yes..bobmrg...I would like to see the Stonehenge replica and the Maryhill estate as well....thanks for suggesting it

Oregon/Washington
Destination Expert
for Portland, Sunriver
posts: 8,699
reviews: 70
9. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

For lodging, take a look at Carson Hot Springs. It is in the gorge on the WA side, and the rates are under $100/night. I haven't stayed there in quite a while, but it is a fun place and not expensive at all.

Horsethief Butte is a haven for rock climbers. If you go on a weekend, you will most likely see quite a few. It has amazing views of the gorge! The parking lot is tiny, but if it is full you can park alongside the highway. There are two ways to get into the canyon. If you are facing the outhouse, there is a trail to the right that will go around into the canyon. Or if you are at the outhouse, there is a faint trail that goes straight to the rocks. You can scramble over those and then end up in the canyon.

A few other hikes to consider are Dog Mountain (WA side), Triple Falls (OR side), Larch Mountain, Indian Point Loop, Hamilton Mountain...gosh there are so many it is honestly hard to list. But these give you a good starting point. Go to www.oregonhiking.com where William Sullivan (our local hiking guru) gives info on various hikes around the state. Just click on the gorge area and then check out the various hikes. IMO, his info is very accurate and reliable.

Oregon/Washington
Destination Expert
for Portland, Sunriver
posts: 8,699
reviews: 70
10. Re: Oregon or Washington side of the Gorge?

Sorry, Bob, I did miss that! No offense intended:(