Where to Stay in the Columbia River Gorge
Editor’s Note: Originally published in June 2012, this article was updated in May 2017 for accuracy and relevance.
Stevenson, WA; from $162
If you make the 45-minute drive from Portland to Skamania Lodge with the windows down, you might smell the lodge before you see it. The unmistakable scent of a wood-burning fireplace (in this case a massive, two-story number in the great room) greets you as soon as you approach the 254-room hotel. Built in 1993, Skamania Lodge gives other nods to the county’s rich timber industry: generous wood detailing and massive timbers abound in the recently remodeled great room, bar, and dining areas. And the dense, trail-filled Gifford Pinchot National Forest awaits right outside. Or stretch your legs instead on the lodge’s 18-hole golf course, before settling in front of the great room’s three-story window for a sunset show of fading pinks and oranges falling across the Gorge’s southern walls.
Inn of the White Salmon
White Salmon, WA; from $119
The Dierck family took over this 80-year-old White Salmon fixture in 2007 and set about gracefully transforming it into a boutique hotel fit for the 21st century. Formerly drab, Victorian-style rooms now feature warmly hued paint in place of wallpaper and built-in, reclaimed–Doug fir bed frames where brass behemoths once dwelled. The cozy library and sunny back patio and garden provide plenty of places to compare adventures with your neighbors. Your reservation also nets you a voucher for a free class at Yoga Samadhi.
Lyle, WA; from $99
The historic Lyle Hotel restaurant offers haute-rustic fare—think pan-roasted crab cakes, braised lamb, a local wine list. Charmed by this renovated 1905 railroad inn? Book one of its 10 quilt-bedecked guest rooms.
Hood River, OR; from $215
Escape Hood River’s hustle and bustle at this Hood River Valley sanctuary, five miles southwest of town. (Trust us, when you get to Sakura, Hood River will seem like a harried metropolis.) In fact, the only crowds you’ll see on Sakura Ridge’s 82 acres of farmland are chickens scratching the ground around the rustic five-room lodge. Pear and apple orchards color the landscape, gently sloping away from your quarters, where each room comes with its own deck and Adirondack chairs—splendid seats for savoring your farm-fresh breakfast beneath a hulking Mount Hood.
Hood River Hotel
Hood River, OR; from $91
Located in the Gorge's epicenter of wind sports and craft brew, this historic downtown building was bought in early 2017 by investors behind Portland’s own Jupiter Hotel. The new owners have announced plans to remodel the building while keeping it open—citing updates to the hotel's lighting fixtures, furnishings, and artwork. The recently renovated downstairs ballroom—complete with a wood-paneled bar and large fireplace—accommodates events for up to 155 people. (Another onsite perk: an outpost of Portland's beloved Nordic restaurant Broder.)
Historic Balch Hotel
Dufur, OR; from $86
Within sniffing distance of the eastern Gorge’s myriad wildflower-strewn hikes (and syrah-strewn wineries), the Historic Balch Hotel anchors the tiny former railway town of Dufur, just as it did when it was originally built in 1907. Owners Samantha and Jeff Irwin purchased the property in 2006, restoring the hotel as an elegant western den replete with velvety parlor couches and leather armchairs, brass-and-glass chandeliers, and even the hotel’s old iron safe. New owners took over in 2015, but true to its roots, there are still no phones or TVs, and not all rooms have private baths. Everyone, however, has access to the hotel Wi-Fi and warm chocolate chip cookies upon arrival.
Columbia Cliff Villas
Hood River, OR; from $149
Developer Steve Tessmer spared no expense when building Columbia Cliff Villas, a vacation community next to the historic Columbia River Hotel: doors are carved from thick slabs of cherry, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances decorate the kitchens, double-paned windows muffle passing trains, and local artists’ original work hangs on the walls. The Villas’ 37 rooms can be booked individually or as larger suites. Opt for a river-view room and you’ll get a front-row seat to windsurfers at the Hatchery and, potentially, a fly-by from those other impressive Gorge wind riders: bald eagles.