Windsurfing in the Gorge is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. The Gorge is a natural wind tunnel that creates wind and waves for wind junkies. The windsurfing craze started in the 1970s and was recognized as the catalyst for bringing hundreds of windsurfers (beginners to experts) from all over the world to the Gorge, which became known as the “windsurfing capital” of the world.

The windsurfing industry boomed with start up companies such as Windsurfing Hawaii, Chinook, Slingshot, Sail works, Dynafiber Airtime and many more moving to the Gorge for product development. What better place for research and design than the very windy Columbia River! The subculture is still present today with many “wind junkies” being the originals who moved here years ago and who found a way to make a living so they can enjoy the lifestyle they love.

For some real entertainment, drive to the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery and watch hardcore and dedicated athletes harness the extreme wind conditions. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or expert — windsurfing on the Columbia River in the Gorge is an awesome experience and a lot of fun!

People learning how to windsurf, on calm water in the Gorge, in the early days of the sport

Early days of windsurfing

A bit of history

In 1948, Newman Darby, a 20 year old American, created a floating platform which looked more like a catamaran than a windsurfing board on which he mounted a sail. He did not patent his idea and in the mid-sixties Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer brainstormed the idea of the sail and the boom, along with the invention of the uphauling rope. First they called the board, “the skate,” then the “Baja board” and finally it was “the windsurfer.”

For more details about launch sites, amenities and skill levels, please click on the map below.

Wind sports map of launch sites in the Columbia River Gorge for both Washington and Oregon