It was heartbreaking to watch the wildfires rage through the Columbia River Gorge in September. We all feared for the worst to happen. But it didn’t. The fires hopscotched through the area leaving some places scorched and others beautiful and green. Meanwhile Gorge businesses suffered immensely, events were postponed and those who might have visited stayed away. But there is good news. The spirit of the Gorge lives on. There’s plenty of beauty and there are plenty of events to enjoy.
The Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance wants everyone to have an update on the Gorge. Nothing has brought into clearer focus the tremendous love that people have for the magnificent Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area more than the Eagle Creek Fire. The wildfire made national headlines when it began on September 2 near the town of Cascade Locks, and then grew to more than 48,000 acres.
With the fire now under control and Interstate 84 reopened in both directions, hard-hit Oregon and Washington Gorge communities are inviting people to “Show the Gorge Some Love” in October by visiting and expressing their appreciation for one of America’s greatest treasures.
Visitors and residents alike are encouraged to go for a hike at the eastern end or northern side of the Gorge, attend a harvest or Halloween festival, tour the Hood River County Fruit Loop, and help the area’s economies recover by spending a couple of nights and supporting local businesses (shop, dine, wine, see art and history, and more). The Gorge Community Foundation has compiled a list of organizations where individuals can make donations to Gorge-based organizations that will be working on restoration and relief efforts.
Cascade Locks, which was evacuated during the fire and suffered severe business losses, is home to the Columbia River Sternwheeler and the captain, Tom Cramblett is the mayor of this small hard-hit town.
But that didn’t dampen their spirit. The town began Cascade Locks Strong to sell gift cards for local businesses, encouraging people to make a commitment to support the Gorge as it recovers from the losses incurred from the fire. Thunder Island Brewing Co. also undertook an effort to raise $20,000 for local volunteer fire crews in 20 days. A celebration is being planned.
Up and down the scenic area, which runs from Troutdale to Biggs in Oregon and from Washougal to Maryhill in Washington, communities are hosting special events and offerings in October.
Columbia River Gorge Events in Oregon
Troutdale: The city invites you to wander down the street of this idyllic town on Friday, Oct. 6, for First Friday Art Walk. From 5-9 p.m., shops will be open with live music and wine tasting. Various artists will line the streets with artful, handcrafted pieces available for purchase. This is a perfect time to shop for the holidays or pick up something beautiful that happens to catch your eye for yourself.
Wood Village: Great Pumpkin Fest at Donald L. Robertson Park, Saturday, Oct. 28, 12-5 p.m. Art, culture, crafts, farmers market, fun and a whole lot of pumpkins.
Corbett: Acoustic Blues Masters will be at Columbia Grange 267 on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. Featuring film, television and Broadway bluesman Guy Davis, award-winning fingerpicker Mary Flower, multi-instrumentalist sensation Orville Johnson and Piedmont blues virtuoso Valerie Turner. It will be a blues moment to remember.
A Corbett Grange Party is happening on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Columbia Grange 267, 6:30-9 p.m. The New Iberians will play some delightful zydeco blues. Half of proceeds will be donated to Corbett Fire District #14 for new equipment. Come on out to support the firefighters and have some fun.
Cascade Locks: Ride the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler and enjoy exquisite views while this large boat gently but strongly paddles its way down the river. Join them for a short sightseeing cruise, or for lunch or dinner. Right now, tickets can be purchased for The Magical History Tour. This special booking is done through Debora Lorang at (503) 360-2866. The trip will include live music, an eclectic auction, a scrumptious light dinner buffet and door prizes, and will benefit the Friends of the Cascade Locks Historical Museum. Boarding at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, and ending at 9:30 p.m.; tickets are $50 each.
Regular rides on the Sternwheeler are available through Oct. 31. Another gem of Cascade Locks is Thunder Island Brewing Co., which on Saturday, Oct. 21, will celebrate its fourth anniversary with live music, dancing to lively tunes and, of course, their famous, amazing food.
Hood River: Hood River Hops Fest, Oct. 7, is an annual celebration of beer’s bitter friend freshly harvested hops, with more than 50 participating breweries and cideries. Live music all day including bands the Antonyms and Oakenfir of Hood River; and Kris Deelane & The Hurt, Mexican Gunfight and Hillstomp from Portland.
The 35th annual Hood River Valley Harvest Fest is Oct. 13-15, 2017. This old-fashioned fall festival brings together more than 120 vendors offering local produce and food products, plus arts and crafts,, wine, cider and beer tastings. Held along the scenic Hood River waterfront, this is the Columbia River Gorge’s biggest celebration of the region’s incredible fall bounty.
Mosier: Bring the family and ride or hike the five-mile Mosier Twin Tunnels segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail between Hood River and Mosier. (The Mark O. Hatfield Western Trailhead and the trail to The Dalles are open.)
The Dalles: Farm to Table Dinner & Silent Auction in honor of Wonderworks Children’s Museum, Oct. 21, celebrating 40 years in the community with a farm-to-table dinner at Omeg Family Orchards of locally inspired food and wine pairings, featuring San Francisco chef Anthony Sterelli.
Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival, Oct. 27-29 at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center—experience the Gorge’s premier fiber event.
The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center presents author Bibi Gaston with Gifford Pinchot and the First Foresters, Oct. 20. Celebrate the Columbia River Indian Autumn, a celebration of Indigenous Native culture November 4; or explore the exhibit, A Community Forgotten: Uncovering the Story of The Dalles Chinatown.
Columbia River Gorge in Washington
Washougal: The Two Rivers Heritage Museum is where history lives in Camas and Washougal. Exhibits include an extensive collection of Native American basketry, displays on local industry, education, medicine, farming, weaving, family records, photo files and more.
There is so much to explore along the trails at Port of Camas Washougal Parks. These flat and accessible paths offer visitors scenic views of the Columbia River and Mount Hood, access to Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Cottonwood Beach and Steamboat Landing, and opportunities to see wildlife and read historical interpretive signage.
North Bonneville: The perfect family-friendly outing happens in North Bonneville while you search for the hidden Bigfoot carvings on the paved, flat Discovery Trail system. Or you can golf nine holes at Beacon Rock Golf Course, with the 900-foot cone of a former volcano watching as you tee off.
Stevenson: Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum is the perfect rainy day option. Explore the exhibits and learn more about the economic history of the Gorge, the Native American culture and the geologic happenings that created this diverse landscape. Don’t miss the world’s largest rosary collection!
Stevenson’s waterfront is not to be missed. Stroll along the Columbia River waterfront path, stand on the dock at Stevenson Landing, and watch windsurfers to the west and kiteboarders to the east. Stop in to the speakeasy-style tasting room at Skunk Brothers Spirits and try their delicious Apple Pie Moonshine.
Shelly Rudolph & Tom Grant host a Red Cross benefit concert at Skamania Lodge on Oct. 7; Red Cross volunteers set up in Stevenson to help house and feed evacuees from neighboring parts of the Gorge, and Skamania Lodge housed those volunteers during the early parts of the evacuation process.
Carson: Go where everybody knows your name, Backwoods Brewing in Carson. Fabulous beer, great food and the friendliest staff you’ll find. First time at Backwoods? They will probably remember your drink order the next time you visit.
Carson is the gateway to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, where the list of hiking trails never ends. Search for mushrooms, soak up the fall colors and keep your eyes open for Bigfoot. Remember, Skamania County is a Sasquatch Refuge, so you can only shoot him with a camera!
Home Valley: Bigfoot Bash at Logtoberfest takes place on Saturday, Oct. 7. Celebrate the culture of Skamania County, logging and Sasquatch while soaking in the views of the Columbia River Gorge and Wind Mountain. The spectacular venue for this event is Gorge-ous Weddings at Wind Mountain Ranch in Home Valley. Drano Lake, just east of Home Valley, is a mecca for fishermen. Buy all of your gear at the Home Valley Store and be ready to holler: “Fish on!”
White Salmon: Visit the sunny side of the Columbia River Gorge for lovely fall adventures. Start your day with a horseback ride through the autumn colors with Northwestern Lake Riding Stables, enjoy lunch at The Logs Inn, and fill out your afternoon with an exciting rafting trip on the White Salmon River with one of their experienced guide services: Wet Planet, River Drifters or Zoller’s Outdoor Odyssey. Spend your evening strolling through the downtown neighborhood. Have appetizers or dinner at Henni’s or Pioneer Pizza Kitchen. Stop to enjoy a handcrafted brew at Everybody’s Brewing, and watch the sunset on Mount Hood from the deck. They often feature great live music as well.
Bingen: There are several terrific breakfast/lunch options to start your day including Mugs Coffee, Beneventi’s or Carmen’s Kitchen. Get a sense of the local history at the Gorge Heritage Museum. Pick up some chicken wings from Pine Shed BBQ and relax in Daubenspeck Park with a picnic. If the weather is wet, visit Antiques & Oddities, where you can get lost for hours looking through the treasures. The Bingen Theater welcomes Ben Jones and Friends for some serious funk on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Lyle: Plan an overnight stay at The Lyle Hotel, a historic railroad hotel to stage your adventures. Live entertainment most weekend nights. Saturday, Oct. 7, they will host the Jacob Williams Wine Dinner, which should be a delightful experience.
The Klickitat Trail offers 31 miles of hiking or biking along this old railroad corridor with spectacular river and canyon views. Refresh at one of the many local wineries: Syncline, Cor Cellars, Domaine Pouillon, Klickitat Canyon, Memaloose or Tetrahedron. Perhaps you would like to land a big salmon or steelhead with Adventure Fishing—the fish are biting! If a scenic drive calls you, then tour up the Klickitat River or head to High Prairie.
Underwood Mountain Wineries (just across the bridge from Hood River) are having a Harvest Celebration. The Columbia River Gorge wine region is fast becoming a must-visit destination for new tasting rooms and wineries, award-winning wine grapes and unobstructed views of nearby Mt. Hood.
Underwood Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge AVA, is home to a premium grape-growing region for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
To celebrate their location and their wines, the Underwood Mt. wineries are throwing their first Underwood Mt. Harvest Revelry, a progressive harvest party featuring tapas, grape stomps, wine-making demonstrations, and of course, wine! Join Hawkins Cellars, AniChe Cellars, White Salmon Vineyards and Willow Wine Cellars on Saturday, October 7th from noon to 6 p.m. to meet the winemakers and experience the excitement of harvest crush. $15 per person includes a logo wine glass and one large pour at each winery, paired with special house-made tapas.
Dallesport: Columbia Hills State Park offers fishing, hiking, rock climbing, bird watching, camping and exploring. Check out the Native American pictographs and petroglyphs at Horsethief Lake including the world famous Tsagaglalal (“She Who Watches”). The Columbia Gorge Airport is located here for those who fly. Schreiner’s Exotic Animal Drive Through is free and unique: from antelope to zebra.
Wishram: A centuries-old Native American settlement located just upstream of the former site of Celilo Falls, once known as the “Great Falls of the Columbia.” Today, the waters of Lake Celilo (the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam) have obliterated the falls and Wishram is a railroad town. It is home to a restored 1923 Great Northern Steam Locomotive 2507. Stop by the Cascade Cliffs Winery tasting room. Wishram Heights offers dramatic scenic views of the eastern Gorge plateaus from SR 14.
Maryhill: Enjoy wine tasting with a view at Maryhill Winery. Maryhill Museum of Art also awaits you on this magnificent viewpoint above the Columbia River. It’s Car Is King weekend Oct. 7-8, featuring a classic car show; free drives on the historic Maryhill Loops Road, one of the first modern roads in the Northwest (open for automobiles only twice a year); a film screening of “King of Roads,” which explores the rich cultural, political, and economic forces that prompted the creation and restoration of the historic Columbia River Highway; and vintage sports cars from the 1930s to the 1960s racing singly in a three-mile timed climb up Maryhill Loops Road.
A bit farther east you will find a life-size replica of England’s Stonehenge—a memorial to the World War I veterans of Klickitat County.
Drop down to Maryhill State Park and cross the Biggs Junction Bridge to head back west on your scenic loop of the Gorge. Be sure to stop for some tasty fruit stand harvest items or a bottle of wine from Waving Tree Winery before you head to Oregon.
Columbia River Gorge Reach Now Offer
ReachNow is proud to sponsor Show the Gorge Some Love with a promotional 24-hour day rate. Visitors can take a ReachNow to a participating hotel and get their car, gas, and room for a total of just $130. ReachNow car sharing by BMW and MINI has 350 vehicles in Portland, including the electric i3.
Lifetime membership is currently free and takes less than 10 minutes in the ReachNow app. Download ReachNow in app stores. Click here for more information.
When You Go to the Columbia River Gorge
Plan ahead for any visit to the Gorge by visiting ReadySetGorge.com, initiated by Travel Oregon, Oregon Regional Solutions, ODOT, the U.S. Forest Service, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge to help visitors avoid crowds by going east, north, early or midweek; plan ahead to have a safe and fun experience; and take steps to help protect the Gorge so future visitors can enjoy it too.
For specific trail, road, and recreation sites affected by the fire in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and the Mt. Hood National Forest, check the Eagle Creek Fire Closures site for up-to-date information on closures. For Washington trail information, visit Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s “Find a Hike.”
The Forest Service and other partner agencies have already begun to assess the effects of the Eagle Creek Fire on the landscape. There is concern about landslides and further damage without careful planning.
Spread Gorge Love on Social Media: Please share that your favorite Gorge towns are “open for business” via social media using the hashtag #showthegorgesomelove. Post images and share your experiences to inspire others.
Want to see what beauty awaits you year ‘round? Be sure and read the Columbia River Gorge stories by Wander With Wonder writers.