Eighty miles long and 4,000 feet deep in some places, the Columbia River Gorge is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacularly scenic outdoor playgrounds. Straddling the Oregon-Washington state line, its 300,000 acres beg to be explored. There are rivers to be rafted, lush forests to be explored from a saddle or a bike, mountains to be hiked, and black basalt cliffs to be scaled. Best of all, the Columbia River Gorge is easily accessible, just an hour’s drive from Portland and Vancouver.
Mount Adams stands tall as the 2nd highest mountain in the state of Washington. It is visible from many parts of Klickitat County, with some great viewing areas in several locations. On good viewing days, you can see four mountains (Hood, Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier) from a location near Eddieville Raceway, just south of Goldendale on Hwy 97.
Flora and Fauna
Many hiking trails and waterfalls are scattered throughout the area, from deep forest to dry oak savannahs. Wildflowers are a delight, with a large variety from west to east, and throughout at least three seasons. Long country drives are available on paved, gravel, or dirt roads, with easy access to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Columbia River National Scenic Area. Fish hatcheries throughout the county are fun to visit. Conboy Lake Wildlife Refuge outside of Glenwood is a serene and special place — home to massive herds of bugling elk and the rare Oregon spotted frogs, as well as a nesting place for the migrating Sandhill Cranes. The good news? You may be the only human for miles.
You can watch the paragliders hovering over Bingen and landing out at Bingen Point on a big grassy area that is also popular with dog owners and picnickers. Rock climbers have several basalt cliffs to enjoy not far out of town, and there is more than one sailboard park where you can join in or simply watch in amazement. White Salmon is home to the 19-acre Spokes Bike Park and there are numerous off-road cycling trails nearby. There is even a popular skateboard park in Bingen. Goldendale has become a motorsports destination and has several annual events to highlight this.
Caves, Rafts, Golf — and Bluebirds
Go north towards Mt. Adams Country and spend the morning hours on an exploration of the Guler Ice Cave or an adventurous trail hike. Then go whitewater rafting on the White Salmon River in the afternoon to make a refreshing day of it. Elk Ridge Golf Course offers stunning views along the links-style course in Carson, to the west. Far to the east, Bickleton boasts a large bluebird population which can be viewed along their hiking trails and open prairie. Spring is the prime time to visit the birds.
Who doesn't love to camp as a way to connect with the natural world? There's a long tradition of camping in the Gorge — from backpacking to RVs. Everyone finds a different balance between their rugged, inner wild and the joy of a few luxuries. Stop by to see us — we can suggest options for whatever level of comfort you desire. But regardless of your go-to camping style, please tread lightly on our natural and cultural resources, keep other people's experience in mind, and generally remember to recreate with respect!
Klickitat County Map
Find your recreational destination here.
All passes are available for purchase online, at some locations and also can be paid for at most locations with on-site kiosk.
Washington Discover Permit/Pass - www.discoverpass.wa.gov
Required at Beacon Rock State Park, Spring Creek Fish Hatchery State Park, Rowland Lake State Park, Maryhill State Park, Columbia Hills State Park, Klickitat Trail, Goldendale Observatory
NW Forest Pass - www.discovernw.org
Required at most U.S. Forest Service lands at the following Gorge trailheads:
Bonneville Trailhead, WA
Dog Mountain, WA
Sam's Walker, WA
St. Cloud, WA
Windy Ridge/Johnston Ridge, WA
and many Oregon trailheads as well.
NEW FOR 2018
Hiking on Dog Mountain on Saturdays and Sundays from March 31 ~ July 1 will require both the a per-person trail system permit and a Northwest Forest Pass parking permit. You can reserve a trail permit at recreation.gov or ride the Skamania County West End Transit shuttle for $2 per person round trip which includes the trail permit.
Be aware that technology will not always serve you in the wilderness areas of our region. Be prepared with backup plans, hard maps, and always take some supplies with you when venturing. Parts of Klickitat County are very remote — keep your fuel tanks filled, as the nearest gas station could be some miles away.