When you visit the Columbia River Gorge, you’ll be in the presence of the Cascade Range and its mighty volcanic mountains. Discover majestic Mt. Adams to the north and Mt. Hood to the south. Many viewpoints and several hikes offer views of Mt. St. Helens as well. These three mighty mountains are also active volcanoes and a beautiful sight to behold. All three peaks are popular with skiers, hikers and climbers.

The three volcanic mountain areas offer winter and summer recreation. At Mt. Hood, the Palmer Express chairlift gives Timberline Ski Area the longest ski season in North America. The 44 mile long White Salmon River originates on the slopes of Mt. Adams and is listed as a “Wild and Scenic River.” It is world renown for its world class whitewater rafting and kayaking. At Mt. St. Helens, you will find 200 miles of trail, surrounded by beautiful summer wildflowers, new forests and lakes. So, get off the beaten path and discover new adventures in Oregon and Washington’s mighty volcanic mountains.

Mt. Adams is one of the largest volcanoes in the Cascade Range and the second highest peak in Washington

Mt. Adams
Klickitat tribe legendary name: Pahto  »  12,276 ft.

Mt. Adams is one of the largest volcanoes in the Cascade Range, and is the second highest peak in Washington State. Although it has not had a major eruption in 1,400 years, it is not extinct. While it has been less active during the past thousand years than nearby Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood, there is a good chance it will erupt again.

Mt. Hood is Oregon’s highest peak and most well-known of the Cascade’s volcanoes

Mt. Hood
Klickitat tribe legendary name: Wy’east  »  11,245 ft.

Mt. Hood is Oregon’s highest peak and the most well-known of the Cascade’s volcanoes. It is probably the only volcano in Oregon which has erupted significant times. Mt. Hood’s last major eruption occurred in the 1790s before Lewis and Clark’s journey to the Pacific Northwest. In the mid-1800s, locals reported minor explosive activity, but since that time the volcano has been quiet. It’s very likely Mt. Hood will erupt again.

Mt. St. Helens is most famous for its major 1980 eruption — the most destructive volcanic event in US history

Mt. St. Helens
Klickitat tribe legendary name: Loowit  »  8,363 ft.

Mt. St. Helens is most famous for its major 1980 eruption — the deadliest and most destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railway and 185 miles of highway were destroyed. An enormous debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale caused an eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet. It is extremely likely that Mt. St. Helens will erupt again.

photo by Jeff Kraemer / eclipsefilms.com

The Legend of the Mountains
Legend: an unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical

The Klickitat tribe of Washington and Oregon has an extraordinary legend about an ancient quarrel between two brothers that we now know as the Cascade volcanoes, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.
Long ago, Tyhee Saghalie, the chief of all the gods, traveled down the Columbia River with his two sons in search of a place to stay. The sons, Pahto and Wy’east, had a complex relationship and when they finally came to an area where they wanted to live, the sons began to argue. Each wanted this beautiful land for themselves.
To settle this quarrel, the chief shot two arrows from his bow. He shot the first one to the north and the second to the south and then told the boys that they would have to live in the place where each of the arrows landed. Pahto followed the arrow to the north and Wy’east followed the arrow to the south.
Tyhee wanted his family to be content, so he built a bridge between the north and the south. This bridge became known as the Bridge of the Gods. And for many years the family used the bridge to meet.
But then— both of the sons fell in love with a beautiful woman named Loowit. She could not choose between Pahto and Wy’east.
So Pahto and Wy’east went to battle with one another. They threw fire at each other and destroyed the Bridge of the Gods. When the bridge fell, the earth was ruined. The collapse of the bridge created a substantial crack between the north and the south which we now know as the Columbia River Gorge.
The destruction from this war was so great that Saghalie was insulted by his sons and their aggression. As punishment he changed all three of the lovers into great mountains. Wy’east became Mt. Hood; Pahto became Mt. Adams; and the maiden Loowit became Mt. St. Helens.

Mt. St. Helens volcanic eruption on May 18, 1980

Mt. St. Helens 1980 eruption
Courtesy of Skamania County Historical Society