With over 27 museums and interpretive centers in the Gorge, you have the opportunity to visualize and participate in the bountiful life of the Columbia River Gorge. Explore Ice Age exhibits, Lewis and Clark archaeology and learn about the amazing floods and volcanic eruptions that created the Gorge. Old homesteads still exist, as museums feature unique collections of pioneer artifacts. One of the Northwest’s most fascinating cultural art museums in the Gorge features famous displays of French sculpture, Auguste Rodin. So, when the weather is rainy, there is still plenty to do!

The Columbia Gorge Museum Pass is a great deal for visiting the amazing museums in the Gorge. Get admission for four people to 10 museums for $99! To purchase passes: gorgeculture.org

A bit of history

Fifteen thousand years ago, a torrent of water, ten times the flow of all of the world’s current rivers combined, raged across the Pacific Northwest. It began when Glacial Lake Missoula spewed a turbulent flood from today’s western Montana as a glacial dam gave way. This catastrophic event is among the largest floods recorded in geological history and is now known as the Ice Age Floods. During the last ice age, glaciers covered much of Canada. One lobe of ice grew southward, blocking the Clark Valley in Idaho. This 2,000 foot-high ice dam blocked the river, creating a lake that stretched for hundreds of miles. Eventually, water traveled under the ice dam. The water drained out of the lake in two to three days, flooding eastern Washington.

The first rush of the Missoula Flood came into the Columbia River Gorge with speeds approaching an estimated 60 mph. Thundering water laden with ice, boulders and topsoil sheared walls of the Columbia Gorge into vertical cliffs. During a period of 2,500 years, as many as 100 of these ice age floods scoured the Gorge. Through the years, the power of the flowing water of the Columbia River created a deep gash into the volcanic rock of the Cascade Range. An Ice Age Floods National Geographic Trail was proposed to bring the dramatic story of the floods to the public’s attention. In 2009, Congress recognized the unique effect of the great floods on the four state landscapes. Thereby establishing the Ice Age Floods National Geographic Trail. The geological trail, the nation’s first, is not a hiking path. Rather it’s a route along existing highways across the four-state region where visitors can see the evidence of the great Ice Age Floods. Click here for more information about the Ice Age Floods National Geographic Trail.

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum, official interpretive center for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Wasco County Historical Museum


Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is the official interpretive center for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which includes one of America’s longest continuously-occupied areas and the Lewis and Clark and Oregon Trails. Seven raptors live at the museum; a red-tailed hawk, an American kestrel, a northern pygmy owl, two great horned owls, and two bald eagles. All summer, daily live raptor programs take place at 11 am and 2 pm.

5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, OR     541-296-8600     visit website

Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum in Stevenson, Washington, focuses on natural and cultural history of the region

Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum


Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum focuses on the natural and cultural history of the region. Along with an award-winning geology film and tasteful displays of the cultures of the Gorge. The museum is located in the wonderful little town of Stevenson, Washington — in the heart of the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. The museum is a perfect place to host a wedding, business event or just enjoy a family outing.

990 SW Rock Creek Drive, Stevenson, WA     509-427-8211     visit website

The Dalles is the eastern gateway to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and is sunsational

Explore The Dalles


This is where discovery meets history at the edge of the Columbia River. Just 90 miles east of Portland, The Dalles is a year-round escape with 300 days of sunshine throughout the year. This is the place where fishermen catch 12-foot-long river monsters, where bikers race to the peaks of Mount Hood, and where people of all ages can experience the art, culture, and history of The Dalles.

404 W 2nd Street, The Dalles, OR     541-296-2231     visit website

Maryhill Museum of Art, located in Goldendale, Washington, is one of the Northwest's most fascinating cultural destinations

Maryhill Museum of Art


Set on a stunning 5,300-acre site overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, Maryhill Museum of Art is one of the Northwest’s most fascinating cultural destinations. Exhibitions include early 20th century American and European works — you can see 80 works by Auguste Rodin — an extensive Native American collection, haute couture from the 1940s and much more. Family activities, outdoor sculpture garden, café and museum shop make for a well-rounded experience.

35 Maryhill Museum Drive, Goldendale, WA     509-773-3733     visit website