Intro lesson $85, follow-up session $285
The gusty Gorge’s status as a kiteboarding capital provides many inspiring/terrifying scenes of ’boarders sailing above the Columbia. An intensive, but approachable, introduction to this lofty sport comes from Kite the Gorge: two companion classes take rookies from gravity-bound to airborne in mere hours. A 90-minute session covers basic equipment and safety. According to owner Carlos Cornieles, most students follow up with three hours in the water. “They go straight into applying what they learned,” he says. Excelsior!
The windsurfing sail vies with the dam and the wind turbine as a symbol of the modern Gorge. Get in on the blustery Zeitgeist with introductory classes from longtime Hood River shop Big Winds. Three two-hour classes (each followed by a one-hour practice) transforms landlubbers into wave-dominators.
Kayaking can go Jekyll or Hyde: a serene meditation or a world-rocking extreme plunge. Columbia Gorge Kayak School plays it both ways. The outfit’s recreational flatwater tours on the Columbia suit families with kids, mellow sightseers, or first-time paddlers. “Pretty much anyone can do one,” says owner Todd Anderson. For the more adventurous, a two-day “weekender” course starts with a pool tutorial but advances to white water on Washington’s raucous Klickitat River.