The area around Hood River was first visited by Europeans in 1792, when a Vancouver expedition passed through the area. The Columbia River Valley was further explored by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, which gave the nearby Hood River its name. As the west opened up to American settlers, fur trappers and traders began filtering into the region. Permanent settlers did not begin making land claims in the area until the 1840s. Though a post office was established in present day Hood River in 1850, the city was not incorporated until 1881. Shortly afterward in 1884, a railroad station was set up at Hood River, and the Oregon Short Line connected the growing town to the Union Pacific line. By the turn of the 20th century, Hood River was becoming a major center for farming and lumber.

The town’s proximity to the Columbia River Gorge led to a local economic boom when windsurfing tourists began visiting the area in the latter decades of the 20th century. Farming, once a staple industry, has been relegated to the backseat and many lower-class residents of the area have been forced to relocate due to the increased standard of living that has developed with increased tourism. Today, the town has a population of just under 6000, predominantly white, but with a large Hispanic and Latino minority.