Skip to main content

BRIDGE of the GODS Magazine


The Columbia River Gorge Map adapted from a version published by The Columbian. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area extends 83 miles on both sides of the Columbia River. It includes Oregon and Washington states, parts of three counties in Oregon (Wasco, Hood River, and Multnomah) and three counties in Washington (Klickitat, Skamania, and Clark). It covers about 293,000 acres, from the Sandy River to the Deschutes River.

CAMAS STREET SCENE Photo Courtesy of Downtown Camas Association


At the west end of the Gorge, Camas’ historic downtown boasts beautiful tree-lined streets, inviting shops, and plenty of places to eat. They are just a small part of Camas’ vibrant charm. 

One engaging activity is to find all 14 bird statues on the Downtown Camas streets. This Hidden Bronze Bird tour encourages folks to walk the downtown and fall in love with its charm. 

Georgia-Pacific has a paper mill at the end of town, inspiring Camas High School teams to call themselves “the Papermakers.”

The City was incorporated in June 1906. It took its name from the camas lily, an onion-like bulb with a long Native American history. 

Beyond the downtown, outdoor enthusiasts can find opportunities to hike, bike, kayak, SUP, and fish at Lacamas Lake and the Heritage Trail.

WASHOUGAL WATERFRONT Photo Courtesy of Scenic WA.


Heading east, Washougal takes up where Camas leaves off. There are several stories of where the town got its name, but the exact origins are unclear. It was incorporated in 1880. From the 1890s until the Great Depression, the area was known for growing and preserving prunes. It was once known as the “Prune Capital of the World.” 

In 1910, a Portland physician named J.F. Bailey opened Union Woolen Mills. When they fell into bankruptcy a few years later, Pendleton Woolen Mills purchased the facilities. The owners of the Pendleton Mills had already developed a market for woolen bed blankets and robes using traditional Native American colors and designs. They expanded their designs to include motifs from many tribes and are still known for their well-made, colorful blankets and fine apparel. The Pendleton Mill remains Washougal’s largest employer. 

Like many Gorge towns, Washougal is steeped in history and boasts scenic trails, lovely waterways, public art, and community events. The Washougal Waterfront Park at the Port of Camas-Washougal provides paved pathways and stunning views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.



The town of Troutdale began as the estate of a sea captain named John Harlow. He bought the town’s original land claim in 1872 and developed it complete with trout ponds for which the town is named. The city was incorporated in 1907.

Located at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia Rivers, Troutdale  is known as “The Gateway to the Gorge.” The Historic Columbia River Highway, built in 1916, passes through Troutdale before it reaches Crown Point and Multnomah Falls, making the town a natural starting point for trips to the Gorge.

The downtown is populated by art galleries, museums, restaurants, and boutique shops. An outlet mall and a series of truck stops provide food, fuel, and a little shopping fun for those on their way to, or through the Gorge. 



Incorporated in June 1935, the community of North Bonneville developed as a place for workers on the Bonneville Powerhouse to live during the construction that began in 1933. 

In 1971, the town was identified as the site of a second powerhouse. The village would be flooded, and 600 residents left homeless once the dam was complete. To address these issues, the Corps of Engineers undertook relocation. They built a new town to accommodate 1500 residents. It was completed in July 1978 and included parks, public buildings, and a business district. 

Today, North Bonneville is home to just over a thousand people and several Bigfoot Family sculptures. There is even a Sasquatch (Bigfoot) sculpture at nearby Bonneville Hot Springs. 



The town of Cascade Locks is slightly upstream from the Bridge of the Gods toll bridge. It took its name from a set of locks built to navigate past the Cascade Rapids of the Columbia River in the late 19th Century. Bonneville Lock and Dam replaced the original locks in 1938. 

Cascade Locks is a favorite destination for day-trippers from the Portland area. Hikers frequent it as they travel the Pacific Crest Trail. It is the lowest elevation and largest city directly on the trail. 

It is a port for the Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge as well as for cruise ships traveling the river, including American Cruise lines vessels beginning in 2021.

The Columbia Gorge Racing Association hosts world-class sailing events at the marina. Hikers, bikers, and nature lovers agree that it deserves the title of “The heart of the Gorge.”



The picturesque county seat of Skamania County is Stevenson. Built near the river at the end of the 19th century, the town was incorporated in December 1907. The SP&S railroad arrived a year later and pushed the town back from the river. The city improved the roads, built wooden sidewalks, and asked residents to keep their cows off the streets.

The Skamania County Courthouse is situated on a downtown hillside and is the most prominent building in town. The Sheriff’s office and other County agencies share the grounds.

About 1600 people call the scenic riverfront town of Stevenson home.  Quaint shops, a grocery, a pharmacy, a liquor store, health clinics, and a farmers market punctuate the downtown. It is also home to several eateries, a brewery, and coffee spots.  Wine, beer, and hard cider have their places here as well. 

In 2018, the Port of Skamania began a shoreline restoration project to provide public access to the river, lighted walking paths, and a trail from the Cascade Boat Launch westward to Bob’s Beach. 

Cruise ships dock at the Stevenson Landing cruise ship pier. Passengers can disembark to enjoy the city’s amenities or walk to one of the nearby parks. American Cruise Lines stops here.

Stevenson is a visitor-friendly delight not to be overlooked.


Carson is probably most known for the Carson Mineral Hot Springs, where patrons can get a relaxing bath and wrap as well as a bite to eat. The original Hotel St. Martin had 24 rooms on three stories and a large dining room and small office and lobby on the ground level. Cabins were later added. 

The thriving resort was at its heyday in the 1920s and 30s. It was a go-to destination in its time when mineral springs were popular for their curative properties. In those days, not all the baths were for guests. There were also baths for people who drove in daily, just to be clean. 

The resort has expanded and includes modern facilities and a golf course. 

Carson is also an outstanding place to stage a hike. The Wind River Highway connects Carson with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and provides access to some of the best hiking in the area. 


Norwegian emigrants settled Home Valley and named it “Heim Dal.” They established a post-office there in 1893. It remained in operation until 1959. 

Home Valley has a gas and grocery, RV park and lodge, and a county-owned campground with rustic campsites suitable for tents, campers, and small RVs. The park has Columbia River beach access and a reservable covered picnic shelter. 

Mt Adams and barns late on an Autumn day in Fruit Valley near Hood River, Oregon MT ADAMS BARNS FRUIT VALLEY © Jim Choate


Hood River’s charm and central Gorge location make it one of the most sought-out Gorge destinations for visitors and new residents. To out-of-towners, Hood River is often synonymous with The Gorge. It’s a popular destination for day-trippers from the Portland area who come for the food, the sports, the history, and the charm. Its fairytale looks and easy access to hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, and watersports make it a go-to destination for many. It is known as the world’s windsurfing capital but has much more than wind to offer. 

Movie theaters, a regional arts center, a Columbia Gorge Community College satellite site, museums, breweries, wine-tasting, and plenty of restaurants populate the streets of downtown and the waterfront,  as well as the Heights - a bustling urban renewal district. The town has an upbeat, almost urban feel, especially in summer, when the population swells with visitors and part-time residents.

The City of Hood River, Oregon, was incorporated in July 1854. It is the county seat for Hood River County. With a population of about 8,000, Hood River is at the scenic junction of Highway 35 and Interstate 84. The Hood River toll bridge spans the Columbia River and connects the city with the towns of White Salmon and Bingen, Washington.

While summer is a popular time to visit, fall, winter, and spring can be just as much fun. Wineries, fruit stands, and pumpkin patches are close-by. The Fruit Loop up Highway 35 is a great way to access Autumn harvest excitement. Local guides offer several wine and harvest tours. The stunning views are free. 

In winter, the town is a jump-off point for snowboarding, tubing,  as well as cross-country, Alpine and Nordic skiing at Mount Hood. Local hotels often sell ski packages that include lodging, breakfast, discounted lift tickets, and transportation to and from the mountain. 

Spring is ideal for mountain-biking near Hood River. Post Canyon is a favorite for free-riders, but with more than sixty trails totaling over thirty-eight miles, there are trails for all skill levels.

Like many places in the Gorge, Hood River is home to artists and innovators, small businesses, wineries, breweries, first-class medical facilities, and more natural beauty than any one place should have. Ask any local. They’ll tell you how great it is.

MOSIER TUNNELS ©Robert Ashworth


Five miles east of Hood River, lies the tiny town of Mosier. Incorporated in 1914, Mosier’s 450 residents are surrounded by cherry orchards,  dramatic vistas, and abundant entrepreneurial spirit.

The Mosier Twin Tunnels, completed in 1921, are a favorite for hikers and bikers who enjoy a paved path with Gorge views. The tunnels are part of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. The tunnels, the Tom McCall Natural Conservancy Preserve, and the boat launch at the mouth of Rock Creek are Mosier sites popular with both visitors and Gorge residents.

Looking downstream. White Salmon on the hillside below and Bingen at the river. The bridge crosses to Hood River. THE GORGE ©Paul Kline


White Salmon is a beautiful, rural town situated on the bluff overlooking the Columbia River. Views from the city range from the Columbia River Gorge and Mt Hood, to glimpses of Washington’s Mt Adams. Locals often say there is no such thing as a bad view in White Salmon.

The City’s name comes from the nearby White Salmon River so named when the Lewis and Clark Expedition saw the river teeming with salmon whose color had turned white after spawning. 

Incorporated in 1907, White Salmon’s city government serves over two thousand residents. Another four thousand or so live outside of the city limits but within the same zip code. 

Access to the bridge that connects the north and south shores of the Columbia (Hood River and White Salmon) is from State Route 14, where White Salmon city limits extend down the bluff to the highway. Regular commuters can sign up for electronic toll collections to eliminate the need to stop at the toll booth to pay the crossing fee. 

 White Salmon is in a transition zone between the marine-influenced climate west of the Cascade Mountain range and the inter-mountain region’s dry continental climate, so White Salmon claims, “The Land Where the Sun Meets the Rain” as its slogan.

The area’s farms, orchards, gardens, cattle, alpacas, llamas, lumber mills, artists, technicians, fishing, and hunting provide a unique and diverse way of life for residents. If you decide to become a neighbor instead of a visitor, you will be in excellent company.

Bridges at the mouth of the Klickitat River as it enters the Columbia at Lyle, Washington - Photo by Getty Images


Lyle is situated at the convergence of the Klickitat and Columbia rivers. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, its advantageous location made it a vital railroad outlet for the county as a port on the Columbia River. After construction of the Cascade Locks in 1896, it was the first port that could ship to Portland, Oregon, without encountering waterfalls.

The town’s current boat launch was the landing for a ferry that crossed to Rowena until the 1960s.

Once called, Klickitat Landing, it became the town of Lyle in 1882.

When the Columbia River & Northern Railroad linking Lyle with Goldendale was completed in 1903, most goods moving in or out of the Klickitat Valley came through Lyle.  Machinery, supplies, and passengers were transported to Goldendale. Sheep, hogs, cattle, and wheat were brought back to Lyle. From Lyle,  goods were sent downriver by boat.  At one time, the town boasted two banks, several businesses, shops, a post office, and even a jail. The old downtown was located near the river, but it burned down, and the vacant land was sold off.

Today’s downtown area has, in addition to other businesses, one convenience grocery store,  a church, a tavern, a restaurant, a gas station and vehicle repair shop, and the 1905 Lyle Hotel.


Murdock is about a mile west of Dallesport. A gas station and quick mart serve the unincorporated village. Homes on the south side of State Route 14 are coveted for their gorge views and, often, river access.  A rural fire district serves both Murdock and Dallesport. The two municipalities are part of the Lyle School District.


Dallesport was originally known as Rockport or Rockland Flats. It was a landing for a ferry crossing between Washington and The Dalles, Oregon. From 1859 to 1878, Rockland Flats was the county seat of Klickitat County.  

The Dalles Bridge was built in the 1950s as part of The Dalles dam project. It permanently linked the two sides of the river. 

The Dalles/ Columbia Gorge Regional Municipal Airport is owned by the City of The Dalles, Oregon, but located in Klickitat County, Washington. The 950-acre airport currently provides two runways and a new business park with shovel-ready lots, including water, sewer, and other utilities.

Dallesport is also home to the Port of Klickitat’s 660-acre Dallesport Industrial Park. 

There are several wineries and tasting rooms in the area. Winery tour maps are available at local Chambers of Commerce or online.

THE DALLES © Wayne Hsieh


The City of The Dalles, Oregon, is the county seat and the largest community in Wasco County.  The city has a population of about 16,000. The Oregon Territorial Legislature created Wasco County on January 11, 1854, and designated The Dalles as its county seat. In 1857, the Legislature incorporated The Dalles as Dalles City. The city was a vital part of commerce, politics, and inland navigation. It served as a prominent Native American trading center for at least 10,000 years. It was the end of the Oregon Trail overland route beginning in 1843. The city and surrounding region played a pivotal role in the westward movement of the 19th century.

 Google took advantage of the available hydro-electric power and fiber-optic network when it located its first owned and operated data center in The Dalles in 2006. The center created more than 200 jobs and has provided multiple grants to fund science and technology education, carbon reduction, and access to the Internet.

Technology is growing in the area. The Gorge Technology Alliance is a member-based organization that supports and develops the tech community of the Columbia River Gorge. They have headquarters in The Dalles.  


 There are several food-processing and manufacturing plants in The Dalles. These include innovative companies such as NuCulture Foods’ cultured cashew nut cheeses, spreads, and rounds,  and Powder Pure, a food dehydrating and powdering company that uses a patented method to remove moisture from food without sacrificing nutritional value.

The Dalles is a vibrant community. In 2020, it was one of five finalists in the Deluxe Small Business Revolution original series competition. The winner receives a half-million-dollar boost from Deluxe. It was a competition that engaged the community and raised awareness about The Dalles downtown. Folks were briefly disappointed when the city placed second, but the competition energized people to contribute to their community in new ways. The Dalles Downtown Business Association carries on where the contest left off.

In addition to the growing business community, staples like Fort Dalles Days Pro Rodeo and The Dalles Cherry Festival are much-anticipated annual events. 

From outdoor recreation to collaborative downtown efforts, The Dalles has various attractions that draw businesses, residents, and visitors to the area. 



Wishram Village was a center of commerce for the local Native Peoples, who came from Oregon and Washington to trade.
Although part of the Treaty of Yakima, the Wishram Tribe resisted removal to the Yakima Reservation. It has been said that when the Celilo Falls were flooded during the construction of The Dalles dam, tribal members turned their backs to the river and sang a death chant. It was a devastating loss for them.
Today, Wishram is considered a historic railroad town, adjacent to the former site of Celilo Falls.  It was established in 1904 as a railroad town supporting the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railroad. It was home to the line’s rail yard and locomotive roundhouse inn during most of the twentieth century.
Wishram’s first store opened in 1911. In 1914  a plat of the town was filed bearing the name, Fallbridge. The name was later changed to Wishram in honor of the local tribe. 
Wishram was a vital rail transfer point during World War II when trains were switched from track to track around the clock. As many as 2,000 loaded boxcars piled up on sidings waiting to be coupled.
The town is still a hub for train traffic coming north from Oregon and California, as well as trains coming west. The railroad section that runs from Vancouver to Pasco still bears the town’s original name of Fallbridge. 
The town is host to one of two Amtrak stops in the Vancouver-Pasco section of the rail line. It also serves the Empire Builder, which runs from Portland/Seattle to St. Paul and Chicago.
The station, parking, track, and platforms are owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

Sam Hill Memorial Bridge to Biggs Junction Across the Columbia River - Mt Hood in the Distance - MARYHILL CROSSING Art Tower /Pixabay


Named for a nearby landowner, W. H. Biggs, who settled in Sherman County in 1880, Biggs was also called Spanish Hollow, after the canyon that opens on the river nearby. Oregon Trail travelers completing their overland journey would get their first glimpse of the Columbia River at Biggs.

Today, It has economic importance as a wheat shipping point, with grain storage elevators and facility to ship wheat by river barge and rail as well as a truck-stop for truckers traveling Oregon’s I-84. 

Maryhill, Washington, is accessible by the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge that crosses the Columbia River between Biggs, Oregon, and the Washington shore.



Just after the turn of the twentieth century, Sam Hill purchased 7,000 acres of land with the idea of establishing a Quaker farming community he called Maryhill. His plans for a utopian settlement never materialized. The town buildings he constructed burned in a fire several years later.

Road-building pioneer, Hill created many of the West’s scenic highways and used his Maryhill property to build and demonstrate the first paved roads in the Pacific Northwest. A stunning Beaux-Arts mansion built on a basalt cliffside overlooking the Columbia river was intended as his personal residence. American-born Loïe Fuller, the mother of modern dance, convinced Hill to turn his mansion into a museum. The structure was still unfinished when his friend, exiled Queen Marie of Romania, dedicated it as Maryhill Museum of Art.

The museum did not open until 1940, but quickly gained a reputation as a Northwest treasure. The museum’s collection includes Queen Marie’s throne, crown jewels, wedding dress, and icon collection. Works by Auguste Rodin (The Thinker, Gates of Hell), Native American basketry, Théâtre de la Mode -- third-scale French fashion mannequins designed to revive the French apparel industry after World War II, and video displays of Loïe Fuller’s innovative dance.  The 5300 acres of museum grounds include outdoor exhibits and roving peacocks.

Hill might be pleased to know that his innovation and engineering spirit live on with wind turbines installed on the museum’s property’s eastern end. The turbines generate electricity and provide funds for museum operations.


 In 1918, Hill razed an existing Inn about 4 miles east of the museum and built a Stonehenge replica as a monument to the World War I dead of Klickitat County and completed it in 1929. He mistakenly believed that the English Stonehenge was an ancient site of human sacrifice. His replica was meant to be a metaphoric memorial to the dead soldiers of World War I, a reminder that “humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war.” Since its construction, remembrances of resident war dead from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam have been added.  Hill himself is buried about halfway down the bluff near the monument. The isolation and lack of access serve to recognize the eccentric Hill’s desire to be left alone. 

Just three miles from the monument, Maryhill State Park is a 99-acre camping park with 20 tent and 50 utility sites, and 4,700 feet of Columbia River waterfront. Recreational activities include boating, camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming, water skiing, sailboarding, and windsurfing.