Waterfalls. Windsurfing. Hiking. Stunning vistas. All this and more awaits when you book a Columbia River Gorge cabin in Washington.
Cascading waterfalls, exuberating windsurfing, incredible hiking, and stunning scenery—these activities and sights describe much of the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. Unfortunately, sometimes the Washington side of this mammoth river is overlooked. The town of Carson, in Skamania County, Washington, makes a perfect home base for exploring the gorge's northern highlights. Carson and other neighboring towns afford both budget and luxury traveler accommodations, boast dining options ranging from pub grub to gourmet cuisine, and offer exciting things to see and do, from learning about the local history to hiking the lush trails.
Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins in the Columbia River Gorge
During a visit to Carson, I stayed in the Green Leaf Cabin at Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins. This cabin is one of ten magnificently decorated cabins that serve as the accommodations for this opulent, privately owned bed and breakfast. Each unit is named and comes with unique décor, custom-made king- or queen-sized beds, welcome snack baskets, and cozy robes. My room had a fireplace, jetted tub for two, and a front porch with a log swing and bistro table.
I spent several hours relaxing and gazing out over the landscape while gently rocking on the swing. The vast property provides plenty of space between cabins to ensure privacy, and I felt alone with nature during my stay.
Breakfast at Carson Ridge
Owning and managing any B & B is difficult, but Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins owners Richard Albert and Theresa Regnier made it look easy. Richard's passion for top-notch service, a keen eye for detail, and an energized work ethic keep the B & B in tip-top shape. At the same time, Theresa's love for hospitality, exceptional culinary skills, and wealth of knowledge about the area ensure that guests will have a positive and memorable experience.
Theresa prepares a delicious three-course breakfast each morning. The menu changes daily, and guests in the past have enjoyed delicious quiches with homemade crust, sweet potato hash with eggs, and eggs Benedict. Most guests have breakfast in the dining room, but those that prefer to dine alone can pre-book one day in advance for an in-cabin breakfast.
Richard and Theresa have thought of everything to create a memorable stay at Carson Ridge, and this is the place to stay, whether traveling alone or on a romantic getaway. During my trip, I booked an in-cabin massage. The masseuses that Theresa contracts are exceptional. They bring everything necessary for a comfortable experience. I had an excellent massage in my room by the fireplace, which was quiet, private, and highly relaxing.
Private Events at a Columbia River Gorge Cabin
Carson Ridge features gorgeous lawns, two fire pits, and a venue ideal for a rehearsal dinner, modest wedding, family reunion, or any other small private gathering. The views are stunning, and the grounds are spacious yet intimate. This property is a fabulous place to plan a small event.
Activities on the Washington Side of the Columbia River Gorge
Panther Creek Falls Hike
One of the gorge's most beautiful waterfalls on the Washington side is only a short drive from Carson. Panther Creek Falls is a 130-foot waterfall in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It is only a short walk to the wooden viewing platform, rendering this waterfall accessible for most visitors.
Falls Creek Falls Hike
The hike at Falls Creek Falls is a bit further away and rated moderate. The round trip to the falls is 6.2 miles with about 1150 feet of elevation gain, but the waterfall views are well worth the effort.
During the first half-mile, I discovered several places where you can scramble to the creek without much effort. Quiet wading pools with icy-cold water sit undisturbed, beckoning brave overheated hikers to take a quick dip. On the north side of the creek is a suspension bridge, and old-growth cedar and fir trees line the trail. After another footbridge, the roar of the falls permeates the air. A collection of boulders provides front-row seats to this glorious waterfall. Bring a lunch and spend time enjoying the gentle spray and scenic beauty.
Hot Springs and Golf Course
After a rigorous hike, what better way to spend the afternoon than at a 1930s bathhouse? The Carson Hot Springs Resort, just down the road from Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins, offers an authentic and traditional bathhouse experience. Clawfoot tubs filled with mineral water provide an all-natural healing bath. Massages are also available at the resort.
The 18 holes at Elk Ridge Golf Course challenge both beginners and seasoned golfers, and the Elk Ridge Clubhouse is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Columbia River Gorge History
The Skamania County Historical Society owns the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum. The museum is a unique and eclectic collection showcasing how the gorge has changed over the years. The museum opened in May 1995, and the building is interpretive of an old sawmill. The spacious layout leads visitors through an easy-to-follow pathway to numerous intriguing divisions of the museum.
The exhibits showcase early transportation, fishing, history, shopping, and religion. Stories of early transportation come to life when viewing antique cars and trucks, old photos, and a model of one of the most luxurious sternwheelers, The Bailey Gatzert. This sternwheeler traveled up and down the Columbia River, and passengers could travel from Portland to The Dalles, Oregon, for $1.
The museum has a very eclectic array of exhibits, including an enormous fishing wheel with an adjoining “home” where the operators lived. Different rooms throughout the building offer videos of Mount St. Helen's explosion, geology in and around the Columbia River, and other historical events.
Stevenson, Washington, is only a five-minute drive from Carson, where the Red Bluff Tap House and Clark & Lewie's Travelers Rest Saloon & Grill offer standard American fare. Henni's Kitchen & Bar in White Salmon, Washington, offers small gourmet plates from various countries.
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The Washington Side of the Columbia Gorge
Yes, Oregon has plenty to offer visitors, but the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge boasts many activities too. When planning your trip to the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon or Washington side, let Wander with Wonder be your guide.