When the sign says “Best Western Plus” along the Oregon side of the Columbia River we have learned THAT’S where to stay in the Columbia Gorge Scenic area. We’ve shared many stories about Hood River Inn about 20 miles east of the Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn. This trip we decided to soak up the culture, history, hiking, biking, paddling, wine or beer sampling and fishing by staying in Cascade Locks at the base of the incredible “Bridge of the Gods.”
Cascade Locks, Oregon, is located in the middle of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, approximately 40 minutes east of Portland International Airport and 20 minutes west of the windsurfing Mecca of Hood River.
On the drive to the Columbia River Inn we passed many scenic waterfalls available from the road or by short hikes. In fact we were surprised to learn how the beauty and diversity of hikes had survived what had been a tough fire season in 2017. Oregonians love their wilderness and are at work restoring trails and natural areas. We learned about so many hiking options which would be amazing in the Fall. William Sullivan’s book, 100 Hikes in Oregon is a great reference – also his website. Some hikes to explore are Gillette Lake, Trout Creek and Snag Creek, all putting you in the footprints of adventurers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Summer volunteers are at many trailheads, if you visit in Fall or Winter, you can check out ReadySetGorge.com for up to date information.
As paddlers, our focus is usually on planning our down wind paddles and fun on the Columbia River. Once we settled in to our spacious river view room at the Columbia River Inn and looked out at the Bridge of the Gods we got curious about what this area was all about. Over the next few days we were much better visitors after spending a few hours at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Museum (Stevenson, WA). Armed with an appreciation of the history and people who carved out amazing lives and industries we toasted their grit over local wines. The Columbia River Gorge wine region is known as “a world of wine in 40 miles.”
Recreational options nearby include world-class white water rafting, mountain biking, sail and kite boarding, and year round skiing on the slopes of Mt. Hood. Cascade Locks even has their own historic sternwheeler, the Columbia Gorge, departing daily from the nearby Marine Park for tours of the river.
We loved planning our day on the sheltered patio just outside of the pool area at the Columbia River Inn. Over coffee in the morning or a local wine in the evening (beer for me) we never tired of the view.
A warm, to-order breakfast that’s included with the room is always a bonus. We loved heading next-door to the Bridgeside Restaurant for local favorites prepared our way. I love crispy hashbrowns. All it took was a request and the golden brown goodness was all mine to enjoy with eggs my way and tasty sausage. There are choices for all tastes, including juice and beverage. Best of all, locals love to eat there, too. We met through hikers off the Pacific Crest Trail as well as other travelers.
It’s time to look forward to Fall and Winter is this wonderland. Enjoy your trip.