Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum
4.5
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
The 48,200 sq. ft. facility won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for its appealing design. The Center is situated on a 54-acre point of land adjacent to the Columbia River and the Historic Columbia River Highway. The site provides walking trails, a pond, and scenic overlooks. Its location in The Dalles, Oregon is an ecosystem transition zone, facilitating the interpretation of both the rain forest west of the Cascade Mountains and the arid region to the east. Live raptor education programs engage all ages in issues related to habitat preservation. The area includes one of the oldest continuously occupied areas in North America (over 11,000 years), immediate proximity to one of the largest rivers on the continent, and access to the Lewis and Clark and Oregon Trails. The multimedia, interactive museum inspires appreciation and stewardship of the natural and cultural treasures of the Gorge and Wasco County. Exhibits focus on the volcanic upheaval and raging floods that created the Gorge, the unique flora and fauna of the region, and eleven thousand years of cultural history. Collections include hundreds of American Indian baskets from throughout the Pacific Northwest, photo archives (partially available on-line), and local genealogical files available in the William G. Dick Library. In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing films in the theater located on site. If you plan to spend the day at the Discovery Center and Museum, you can relax during a lunch or coffee break at the Basalt Rock Cafe.
Duration: 1-2 hours
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.

Top ways to experience Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum and nearby attractions

See what travelers are saying
  • pickascreennamepicka
    St. Catharines, Canada267 contributions
    The name says it all: This is a Discovery Centre!
    This is a lovely building with attractive grounds. The Centre houses a very informative series of galleries beginning with theories about the genesis of ice-ages leading to the formation of the Columbia River Gorge. The galleries move on, briefly, to curate some prehistoric species before turning to a substantial review of local indigenous peoples. The Centre provides an entertaining recounting of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The galleries culminate in the history of European expansion into Oregon, the dispossession of the local peoples and the development of the industrial present of Oregon.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 2, 2023
  • pnwthomas
    169 contributions
    Perfect for History Buffs
    Beautiful views on the Columbia River. You can hike along the trails after or before you go inside and discover some amazing history of the Gorge and the hardships of the Lewis and Clark expedition. As a Harvest Host Member, I was able to spend the night in their lower parking lot. It's by the highway so take ear plugs if you decide to sleep there for the night. It's worth a stop and I plan to go back with my grandchildren.
    Visited May 2023
    Written July 8, 2023
  • Andy5573
    Palmyra, Pennsylvania251 contributions
    Early History and Culture of the Region.
    Well presented interpretive center and museum in a beautiful building. Recommend a visit to get a good overview of the region. Static and video displays. Some video/audion displays are locatd too close to each other and the audio overlaps in certain areas, suggest these be repositioned, but otherwise they are very interesting to watch.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 12, 2023
  • chicotgal
    Ville Platte, Louisiana75 contributions
    Wonderful and very historically informative.
    Very nice and clean museum. Plenty of parking and handicap accessible. We did not have enough time to explore every aspect of the museum and it's grounds. The museum exhibits were top notch! We did have time to walk around the pond but did not get to walk to the opposite side of the parking lot to see the old buildings. Wish we had allotted more time in the day for this museum. Great for all ages!
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written September 25, 2023
  • Anne B
    Portland, Oregon76 contributions
    40th birthday day trip with family !
    Spent the day in this area of the Columbia River....this museum is one of the best. There are so many well displayed sets. It has a get room for kids to draw and sit. The room has a new mural with moving wooden animals for kids and adults too to move from one setting to another. The gift shop is wonderful, no junk just great books and yes toys to relate to Oregon history. At the end of the entry is a floor to ceiling window that looks out towards the river with an elk sculpture. The history of Lewis and Clark, pioneers and the Indian live here in the area. One of my favorite was the display and the short film of basket making and the baskets displayed were beautiful. There is a cafe but with was closed the time we were there, but the time before we did have a little treat. There is admission which is reasonable. So many venues out there for weddings ... this place would be perfect right in front of the huge window, check this place out. If you love history and Oregon history this place is a wonderful place to visit.
    Visited January 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written January 5, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
424 reviews
Excellent
283
Very good
117
Average
19
Poor
4
Terrible
1

Heather H
25 contributions
Sep 2020 • Friends
Tried to enjoy the museum but it's only open on the weekends. Tried to do the Pioneer Walk but it only had numbers posted without a map (maybe inside?), it's interesting but not informative. Final straw, I had been enjoying looking at the osprey. A woman came into the osprey room, collected the bird and started walking to the indoor captivity room. I asked, "can I take a picture?" She didn't say anything and kept on walking. Poor representative of the Discovery Center. Really disappointed.
Written September 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

livewell2day
Santa Rosa, CA68 contributions
Oct 2022 • Couples
We enjoyed the warm welcome we received from the front desk person. She was cheerful, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. The museum exhibits were done with such care and detail. We learned many interesting things about the local history, fishing, economic and cultural aspects. There is a nice nature trail, relatively flat, easy and short. It offers great views of the Columbia River Gorge and the nearby landscape. We would highly recommend people visit the museum. The staff and volunteers are dedicated and you can tell they really care and value it.
Written October 5, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

3CatMom
Philomath, OR222 contributions
Sep 2021 • Couples
A great overview of the history of the Columbia Gorge. Modern and clean. Lots of parking. Exhibits well maintained and engaging. Even had a talk on a local raptor and there's an exhibit of these birds out the back door. Nice, but small, gift shop. Well worth a visit. Probably spend 1-4 hours there depending if you attend the presentation and how much of the printed exhibit information you read.
Written October 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jim B
Grapeview, WA1,377 contributions
May 2021 • Couples
This museum does a good job of presenting a history of the Columbia River Gorge, from the geology to the people who have settled here over the many generations.

It covers the Native Americans who were here originally, to the settlement of American immigrants, to the railroad era, to the automobile era with the highways that were developed.

They also have a section on the Lewis & Clark expedition through this area.

They also have raptors to educate you on birds of prey and their prevalence in this area.
Written May 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Anne B
Portland, OR76 contributions
Jan 2024 • Family
Spent the day in this area of the Columbia River....this museum is one of the best. There are so many well displayed sets. It has a get room for kids to draw and sit. The room has a new mural with moving wooden animals for kids and adults too to move from one setting to another. The gift shop is wonderful, no junk just great books and yes toys to relate to Oregon history. At the end of the entry is a floor to ceiling window that looks out towards the river with an elk sculpture. The history of Lewis and Clark, pioneers and the Indian live here in the area. One of my favorite was the display and the short film of basket making and the baskets displayed were beautiful. There is a cafe but with was closed the time we were there, but the time before we did have a little treat. There is admission which is reasonable. So many venues out there for weddings ... this place would be perfect right in front of the huge window, check this place out. If you love history and Oregon history this place is a wonderful place to visit.
Written January 5, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Geoff A
3 contributions
Jan 2022
I've driven past this many times while on my way to somewhere else on I-84. We finally decided to stop and check it out. Highly recommended museum depicting the geology, natural history, and human history of the Columbia Gorge.
Written May 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Celeste
23 contributions
Aug 2019
Loved this stop along our trip through the Columbia River Gorge. Lots of local history, live birds with an informative talk by local guide, and interactive play area for the kids. Worth the stop!
Written January 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marjorie M
Salem, IN167 contributions
Aug 2021 • Couples
The museum was very good. It dealt with early geology, ice age inhabitants, native Americans, the early pioneers and missionaries , the impact of the railroad, hydroelectric power and more. We went specifically for the raptor feature, which was disappointing for us. They showed one red tail hawk and you could sort of see two great horned owls in the back of their enclosure. We had hoped to see more birds and to spend time in an outdoor area viewing the raptors.
Written August 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

pickascreennamepicka
St. Catharines, Canada267 contributions
May 2023 • Couples
This is a lovely building with attractive grounds. The Centre houses a very informative series of galleries beginning with theories about the genesis of ice-ages leading to the formation of the Columbia River Gorge. The galleries move on, briefly, to curate some prehistoric species before turning to a substantial review of local indigenous peoples. The Centre provides an entertaining recounting of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The galleries culminate in the history of European expansion into Oregon, the dispossession of the local peoples and the development of the industrial present of Oregon.
Written June 2, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

chicotgal
Ville Platte, LA75 contributions
Sep 2023 • Family
Very nice and clean museum. Plenty of parking and handicap accessible. We did not have enough time to explore every aspect of the museum and it's grounds. The museum exhibits were top notch! We did have time to walk around the pond but did not get to walk to the opposite side of the parking lot to see the old buildings. Wish we had allotted more time in the day for this museum. Great for all ages!
Written September 25, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Showing results 1-10 of 420
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)