Two States, Three Volcanoes & One Big River — Oregon & Washington’s Playground™

Up to 4,000 feet deep, the Columbia River Gorge stretches for more than 80 miles as the Columbia River winds westward through the Cascade Range, forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south. Three volcanoes dominate the Cascades and are major attractions when visiting the Gorge. Majestic Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon. It is one of the three dormant volcanoes in this region, with Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens located across the river in Washington state.

The western Gorge, with an average annual rainfall of 75 inches, is lush and green with misty mountains, old growth forest and over 40 plus waterfalls. The eastern Gorge, with an annual rainfall of less than 15 inches, is a region of rocky bluffs, rolling hills, desert wildflowers and wide open spaces.

Just taking a drive through the Columbia River Gorge and exploring the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway is an experience in itself, as you will be in awe of the spectacular geological wonders.

The Columbia River Gorge
is the largest national scenic area
in the United States.

In 1986, a group of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts organized a campaign to preserve the Columbia River Gorge’s scenic beauty by successfully encouraging Congress to pass the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act. The purpose of the act is to protect and provide for the enhancement of scenic, cultural, recreational and natural resources of the Gorge— and to protect and support the economy of the Gorge by encouraging growth to occur in existing areas and by allowing future economic development outside these areas if it is compatible with Gorge resources.

The Scenic Area stretches 85 miles and begins in western Oregon, spanning from Troutdale to the Deschutes River and in western Washington from Washougal to Wishram. With 75,000 people calling this area home, two million tourists visit each year. Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood territories, Mt. St. Helens Area, Deschutes River Valley and Goldendale are all outside the scenic area boundaries but are all considered popular tourist attractions when visiting the Columbia River Gorge.

Oregon's Mt. Hood is one of three volcanoes in the Columbia River Gorge Region

Mt. Hood, Oregon | 11,245 ft.

Washington's Mt. St. Helens is one of three volcanoes in the Columbia River Gorge Region

Mt. St. Helens, Washington | 8,364 ft.
Jeff Kraemer –

Washington's Mt. Adams is one of three volcanoes in the Columbia River Gorge Region

Mt. Adams, Washington | 12,326 ft.


Blog Posts

  • Enjoy Nordic skiing during winter snowfalls in the Gorge
Nordic Skiing Adventures

Nordic skiing is a great and sometimes life changing alternative, offering a person one of the purest skiing experiences. Whether you seek the speedy kick and glide of skate skiing along the corduroy smooth groomed runs, or you long for the silent schussing experience of ski touring on or off trail through the woods and open snowfields, you will find plenty of options of Nordic skiing in both Washington and Oregon. There are over 10 Sno-parks to explore and keep in mind you will need permits for parking and fees are required. [...]

  • A bit of history about locations in the gorge
A Bit of History

As you visit Columbia River Gorge towns and attractions, you may ask yourself, “where did that word come from?" Read on to learn some interesting folklore and a bit of history. Beacon Rock Named by Lewis and Clark in 1805; they originally referred to it as Beaten Rock and later as Beacon Rock. The rock was later known as Castle Rock, until 1915 when its name was changed back to Beacon Rock. Celilo Falls Celilo comes from Wyam, meaning "echo of 
falling water" or "sound of water upon the rocks." The Dalles [...]