Take a Drive along The Ultimate Columbia River Gorge Loop

If you are looking for scenic adventure, all you have to do is get in your car and drive. From Vancouver to Hood River along the Washington side of the Columbia River, the drive takes about an hour and a half with zero stops. While the drive is pretty enough, there are at least three places worthy of a stop for exploration, walking and enjoyment. Completing the entire loop with zero stops is 136 miles and takes around two and a half hours. However, our itinerary for the ultimate Columbia Gorge scenic drive is a full day of adventure.

While you don’t need to do all of the stops in one day, the Columbia River Gorge is one of the prettiest drives in the country. Few know that the Washington side is a scenic byway and the Oregon side of the gorge, one of the first planned scenic highways in the nation, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. Whether you drive the gorge once a year or explore it every weekend, the following stops will help entice and inspire more adventures along our mighty river.

1. Stop #1 – Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Driving along the Columbia River Scenic Highway is unlike anywhere else in the world. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

2. Stop #2 – Beacon Rock State Park

For one of the best hikes along the Washington side of the Columbia, head up to the top of Beacon Rock. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

3. Stop #3 – Columbia River Gorge Interpretive Center Museum

The Bridge of the Gods is the perfect Columbia River crossing for a fun day drive around the gorge. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

4. Stop #4 – Bonneville Fish Hatchery

Pacific Lamprey are just one of the many species seen from exploring around the Bonneville Dam. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

5. Stop #5 – Visit a Waterfall

Once it reopens after the fires of 2017, Multnomah Falls is an awesome place to stretch your legs and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the region.
Photo credit: Douglas Scott

6. Stop #6 – Vista House

Perfect for sunrises and sunsets, Vista House is a world class destination just a few miles from home.
Photo credit: Douglas Scott
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