Slicing a wide swath through basalt columns, the Columbia River has carved one of the most beautiful scenic destinations in the world. Starting just east of Portland, Oregon, extending for approximately 50 miles, the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area provides an array of wonders, from waterfalls to stunning vistas, from hiking trails, mountain biking, fishing, and world-class windsurfing to hot spring spas, golfing, antique shopping and art galleries. Protected as a national treasure, development has been limited, leaving a legacy for generations to enjoy. Here are just a few of the many wondrous adventures you can find in the Gorgeous Gorge.
Looking for a private accommodation that offers a treat for the senses, a place to relax in your own private cabin, with spectacular mountain views, a sanctuary of peaceful surroundings, and just 45 minutes from Portland, Oregon? Carson Ridge Private Luxury Cabins offer all of that and more. Located in Carson, Washington, near Carson Hot Springs, these restful lodgings are the perfect base for exploring Hood River, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and the many waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
The Carson Ridge cabins provide a luxurious stay in a rustic setting. Sit in your porch swing and read your book, or sip champagne in front of a roaring fire. A spa tub will soothe your tired muscles, or have an in-room massage to knead those knots out of your body.
In addition to the cabins, the grounds encompass 3 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens overlooking the views of the mountains and ridges surrounding the foothills of Mt. Adams. Special romance packages are available. Featured in The Best Places to Kiss and Best Places Northwest. For more information, visit www.carsonridgecabins.com
Carson Hot Springs
Whether you have just finished hiking the foothills of Mt. Adams, fishing the Klickitat River, or antique shopping in White Salmon, a fun way to end the day is a stop at the Carson Mineral Hot Springs Spa & Golf Resort just outside of Carson, Washington. A scenic hour’s drive from Portland, OR and 45 minutes from Vancouver, WA, these hot springs are a mix of rustic and sparkling new accommodations.
Built in 1892, the original bathhouse is still in use, adjacent to the St. Martin Hotel, built in 1901, where you check in. After soaking in claw-footed bathtubs in mineral water piped directly from the springs, an assistant will wrap you in a cocoon of blankets, purifying and energizing your body as you rest for 20 minutes. Massages are also available with nurturing therapists.
The Hot Springs Rooms are a blend of old tradition and modern look, with no televisions or phones to disturb your rest. The tradition at the spa is to “unplug for awhile.”
If golf is your game, take in a round on the dramatic 18-hole course with panoramic scenes of the Columbia Gorge. The course plays over sixty-five hundred yards and is a par 71.
For more information about the resort and golf course.
Skamania Lodge Golf Course
Skamania Lodge offers a challenging 18-hole, par-70 golf course with breathtaking views and tranquil greens. The services include a driving range, practice bunker, chipping and putting greens. Nestled on 175 wooded acres, the course also features a golf shop, cart rentals, and PGA Professionals to help you with your game.
Golf packages are available, as well as a golf school with professional instruction for all levels of golfing experience. Starting in March, the lodge hosts several golf tournaments throughout the spring and summer, including scrambles and charity events. Annual and corporate passes are also available.
For family outings, Skamania Lodge Golf Course offers a “Bigfoot Family Golf Program” for Sunday and Tuesday evenings from June through September.
Beacon Rock Golf Course
Play the Rock! Is the Beacon Rock Golf Course motto. Built with time, energy, and supplies donated by residents who desired a place to play locally, this 18-hole course offers excellent playing conditions in a beautiful setting just east of Beacon Rock State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River, five miles west of The Bridge of the Gods.
Emphasizing a community feeling, Beacon Rock offers weekly specials that cover the gamut of golf enthusiasts, including packages for juniors, seniors, men, and women. During the off-season, they offer a winter pass for unlimited golf from November through February.
Beacon Rock’s Ye Olde Golf Shoppe Grill, serves natural, organic, and local ingredients in their burgers, hot dogs, salads, and breakfasts. The hours mirror the clubhouse hours.
HOOD RIVER: HIKING/MOUNTAIN BIKING
Eagle Creek Hike
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area is known for its high concentration of waterfalls, which makes the dramatic scenery even more compelling for hikers. From temperate rainforests to cascading rivers, there is everything from day hikes to multi-day backpacking. When completed, the Columbia Gorge Trail will stretch for more than 35 miles through the length of the Gorge. Trail planners envision a trail from Portland to the Hood River.
For day hikes, the Eagle Creek trail is a popular 13-mile hike visiting more waterfalls (half dozen) than any other trail in the Gorge. To maintain an easy grade, engineers created ledges blasted out of sheer cliffs. Open all year, the moderate, 4.2-mile trail will take you over a spectacular gorge to one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world, the 30-foot Punchbowl Falls. If you’re up for more, the hike to Tunnel Falls is a difficult, 12-mile hike with 1,200 feet of elevation gain (you are in the Gorge, after all!). Be warned, no dogs are allowed, and hikers will be fined if caught with their animals. This is a dangerous trail from four-leggeds.
Ruckel Ridge Loop Hike
Looking for a more rugged trail to tackle? Try Ruckel Ridge, a primitive trail that climbs four miles in 3750 feet before descending in an eight-mile loop. Beginning hikers and out-of-shape be warned; this is not for the faint-of-heart. It’s also advised to not bring dogs. Widely recognized as the most treacherous day-hike in the Gorge, you will need good boots, solid route-finding skills, and strong legs. Dry weather is also a must. Like to hike alone? Try another trail. It’s highly recommended that soloists find someone to hike with on this trail.
If you are in reasonable shape, the initial ascent is not bad, just a series of hand-over-hand obstacles at an even pace. Where you will be tested is on the final 1,000-foot ascent to the Benson Plateau and then the descent. The nine-mile loop requires an early start. Plan ahead, as the trailhead is not easy to find.
Post Canyon/Seven Streams Mountain Biking
For a demanding climb, there’s nothing like mountain biking in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Known for the xtreme sports in the area because of the rugged conditions, enthusiasts will find this trail is a grab bag of conditions and difficulties. The trip is 12 miles in distance with over half in gravel and dirt roads, the rest single-track. While the roads are usually in fair condition, there are some areas with large loose rocks. The route has two loops and two out and backs. This is a fun area with multiple riding possibilities.
Three Corner Rock
On the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area you’ll find a favorite local ride in the Yacolt Burn State Forest. The ride starts on a rough gravel road, steep and uneventful. However, once you hit the singletrack trail, the ride gets interesting. The trail descends rapidly, with some intense hill climbing bursts through a forest until you reach Stebbins Creek. Switchbacks abound, so you’ll be testing your quads and cranking your pedals. Total distance is 7.4 miles of singletrack with 9.5 miles of rough gravel road.
One of Washington’s longest free flowing rivers, the Klickitat River, located in Southeastern Washington, flows 100 miles from its source to the Columbia River. With tributaries flowing off the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Adams, this river is renowned for its steelhead and salmon fishing. The deep basalt canyon walls of the river gorge and a beautiful landscape of trees on ridges of rolling hills create a unique environment for fly fishing. A mile upstream from the community of Lyle, the river narrows into a chute where salmon and steelhead fight to journey upriver to spawn each fall.
Native Americans still dip net for these elusive fish from scaffolds built hundreds of years ago. You’ll find Chinook Salmon (King), Silver Salmon (Coho), and the Pacific Northwest Steelhead. Both hatchery and wild Steelhead return each year. This river is nature at its best. For more information, visit www.klickitatriver.com
Skamania is the Chinook Indian word for “swift water”, which describes the many waterfalls near this magnificent mountain resort located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Just 45 miles east of Portland, Oregon on the Washington side of the Columbia River, the resort offers 254 guest rooms, 22,000 square feet of conference and event space, and an 18-hole par 70 golf course.
Built in 1993 in a public-private partnership involving The Columbia River Gorge Commission, the USDA Forest Service, Skamania County, and Grayco Resources, Inc., the lodge was designed with the great lodges of the early 1900’s in mind. Rustic, yet with modern features, the lodge was built with large timber over 100 years old recycled from the BumbleBee cannery in Astoria, Oregon, native stone, and Montana slate to compliment the rock fireplace.
Guestrooms have been newly remodeled with flat-panel televisions, ergonomic desk chairs, and wi-fi & data ports. In-room dining service is available.