Columbia River Gorge
Last summer, we spent a weekend in Hood River, Oregon and quickly fell in love with it. Neither my husband or I had ever visited the Columbia River Gorge, but we knew this wouldn’t be the only time we took the opportunity to make this trip. Just under 4 hours from Seattle, or just over an hour from Portland, it makes for a fantastic weekend trip. Upon arriving in Hood River, we found many people kitesurfing on the river. We parked the car and got out to stretch our legs – much needed! Olivia did great in the car but it was time for a change of scenery for her.
There was a lady playing with her two dogs near the water and that kept Olivia entertained during her snack. As we walked around, we thought about how nice it must be for the residents in this town to get off work on a Friday and go kitesurfing, or hop on their jet ski and play in the Gorge. The fact that we arrived near sunset definitely helped our first impression.
After this break, our journey was short. We passed back over the river into Washington and arrived at our VRBO house rental in White Salmon, WA. This is possibly the cutest house, to date, that we’ve stayed in. We still talk about going back to rent this house and enjoy the full view it provided of Mt. Hood. The house slept 9 – we know, because that’s how many were there. Me, Chris, and Olivia (I was pregnant with Adele), and 3 other couples. The house had a great porch, fire pit, plenty of room inside, and an extra friendly cat to keep an eye on us. The owners were also kind enough to purchase a pack ‘n play for Olivia so we didn’t have to bring ours! The best part about it was the view of the mountain. It was really nice to wake up in the mornings and see the snow-capped peak at dawn.
On Saturday morning, we got up and ate breakfast at Bette’s Place in Hood River, as recommended by plenty of locals throughout town. The ambiance was greatly disappointing as it’s in a brightly lit hallway with little or no view of the gorgeous mountains or town just outside. However, the food was great and the service was fine. The town of Hood River was really cute and had plenty to walk to. If renting a house isn’t your thing, this was a cute area that looked like an easy place to stay. There were a number of shops and restaurants downtown, giving out the small town vibe.
We left Bette’s Place and drove to Multnomah Falls. Visiting anywhere along the Columbia River is gorgeous so we didn’t mind making the 30 minute drive. We stumbled upon a few other falls which made for some nice, unplanned photo spots. We parked and headed toward the falls to begin our hike to the top. After taking some family pictures at the base of the falls, we climbed the stairs to reach the bridge and cross to the hiking trail. It was pretty misty so we didn’t stop long there since we didn’t want Olivia to get too wet or cold. Plus, it got pretty crowded along the bridge and that made it hard to snap a good photo.
Our hike continued to the top of the mountain with a few places to stop for a break. Olivia enjoyed riding in our Snugli hiking backpack so she seemed content the whole way.
The top of the mountain isn’t the end of the hike. We actually went back down the mountain a bit to reach the top of the falls. Surprisingly, there’s not a great view of the falls from here so that was a little disappointing. However, the view of the gorge from this height was amazing! That definitely made it worth it! Luckily, we were there on a super sunny day so we had plenty of visibility. There is a large, shallow pool of water up top to wade in and made for another fun cool down spot and photo opportunity. We spent about 20 minutes up here before heading back down.
Olivia took a quick nap on the way down to the base. We ate at the lodge restaurant and wished that we split our meals because there was so much food. But it felt good to eat, drink, and sit.
By the time lunch was over, Olivia was beyond tired but we had one more place to visit with her. She took a quick nap in the car on the way to Vista Point, a fantastic lookout point of the entire Columbia River Gorge – not to be skipped! We were lucky and had amazing weather, which allowed us to see all throughout the gorge. It’s too bad none of these photos do it justice!
Some of our friends went to the grocery store and picked up a feast for us to grill for dinner. After showers & naps, everyone felt ready for the rest of the evening. We enjoyed the fire pit (maybe a little too much!) and the other girls enjoyed playing with Olivia since they all had baby fever. With all the activity from the day, an early bedtime was just what we all needed.
On Sunday morning, we woke up and munched on a few leftovers as we cleaned up the house to get ready to head back to Seattle. We said our goodbyes to this cute little house, and the cat, and made our way into Hood River to the Full Sail Brewery. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and enjoyed the view of the Columbia River while having lunch. Olivia got lots of compliments for her great behavior and her cute hairbow!
On our way back to Seattle, we stopped by the Bonneville Dam & Fish Hatchery. There is an information center here to give all of the history of the dam and how it provides power today. The fish hatchery has a salmon ladder and plenty of pools to see all of the fish. This area is about 40 miles east of Portland.
Our trip was so fun and we talk all the time about going back to the Columbia River Gorge. We actually talk about renting the exact same house again because it was that great. What are some of the fun things you’ve done in the Columbia River Gorge?