Hood River, Oregon
Hood River, a small town on the south bank of the Columbia River, has a unique location in the Columbia River Gorge with a temperate rain forest to the west and a long stretch of steppe desert to the east. The port’s backdrop is Mount Hood, the state’s highest peak at 11,250 feet. Outdoor adventures are the popular pastime here, including windsurfing, kiteboarding, hiking, and rock climbing.
What We Love
Vineyards and Breweries: The area has some excellent taprooms with seasonal brews, pub eats, and lively music, while the gorge's varied climate, soil, and elevations turn out varietals such as cabernet franc, chenin blanc, and nebbiolo.
Orchards: The Mount Hood train runs excursions inland passing through the area's famous apple and pear orchards en route to the foothills. Not only are these groves picturesque, but their fruits are crisp and tasty.
Best Known For
Outdoor Sports: The Columbia River Gorge generates strong, steady winds that popularized the sport of windsurfing here in the 1980s. Kiteboarding and sailing are also popular, and with Mount Hood just 30 miles to the south, there are even more plein air activities, including skiing, snowboarding, trekking.
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Who It's Best For
Active Adventurers: With sporting opportunities galore — and a stunning natural setting to host them — outdoorsy folks will be sure to have a busy day at port.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Choppy Waters: When the wind increases due to the narrowing of the gorge, the Columbia River can be too rough for some water activities.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.