Twenty-six years ago, after years of bitter feuding between conservationists, timber town residents, and politicos, the Columbia River Gorge became one of the country’s first National Scenic Areas. The designation both protected the landscape from unfettered development, clear-cutting, and other marring, and also allowed existing communities to grow. Today more than 2 million visitors each year enjoy the trails, waterfalls, and jaw-dropping vistas that dot the protected area’s nearly 457 square miles. But they also enjoy a growing culture of wineries, restaurants, and resorts. It’s a beautiful, sometimes boisterous mix. Here we offer an insider’s guide to the best, from good-to-the-last-slurp milkshakes to soul-stirring views and hidden waterfalls that, thanks largely to the scenic area, you still can have all to yourself.

In This Feature:

Where to Stay in the Gorge

After a full day of adventure in the Gorge, a sweet spot to chill and rest your weary head is crucial.

05/25/2012 Edited by Kasey Cordell

Maryhill Museum Expansion

The Maryhill Museum now has plenty of room for both its famed Rodin collection and a gorgeous new outdoor pavillion.

05/25/2012 Edited by Kasey Cordell

Where to Hike in the Gorge

The less-traveled path often yields the most spectacular vistas.

05/25/2012 Edited by Kasey Cordell

Wildflowers and Waterfalls in the Gorge

The transcendant beauty on displaying in the Gorge is both growing and flowing.

05/25/2012 By Kate Bryant

Where to Eat in the Gorge

Rest assured that beer, burgers, coffee, and pizza are readily available to hungry Gorge explorers.

05/25/2012 Edited by Kasey Cordell

Wineries Worth Visiting in the Gorge

A panoramic view is even better with a fine wine to accompany it.

05/25/2012 Edited by Kasey Cordell

Adventure in the Gorge

If you're going to take advantage of the myriad Gorge adventures, a class or two can only enhance your enjoyment.

05/25/2012 Edited by Kasey Cordell

Kite Rider

A local daredevil shines the spotlight on kitesurfing and watches the sport take off.

05/25/2012 By Christopher Van Tilburg

How’d the Gorge Get There?

We chart the geologic evolution of the Columbia River Gorge. This may take a while.

05/25/2012 Edited by Kasey Cordell