With stunning waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, basalt cliffs, lakes, streams and rivers, the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area is a magical, awe-inspiring place to visit in the summer — or anytime of year.

Two million visitors flock to the Gorge each year to experience some of Oregon’s most popular recreational, historic and cultural attractions like Multnomah Falls, Crown Point, Beacon Rock State Park and Rowena Crest Viewpoint.

Especially in 2016, car use and trails will be at their max during the Historic Columbia River Highway’s centennial celebration.

Here are the best ways to have a great time and help preserve this beautiful region for generations to come:

Photo credit: Sumio Koizumi

Avoid congestion

Consider visiting the Gorge during off-peak times of the day, off-peak days of the week and during shoulder seasons. Start your trip before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to beat the crowds. Travel against the grain, from east to west.

Photo credit: Sumio Koizumi

Photo credit: Tyler Roemer

Go car-free

Let someone else do the driving. Take a car-free trip by arranging one of many public-private shuttles or go by bike. Join a bike tour group. Check out a bike trip itinerary and explore sections of the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway that are closed to vehicles.

Photo credit: Tyler Roemer

Photo credit: Larry Geddis

Enjoy the ride

Take your time and enjoy the ride. Check the traffic, weather and trail conditions and plan accordingly.

Photo credit: Larry Geddis

Photo credit: Tyler Roemer

Extend your stay

Plan an extended trip around any of the dozens of unique exhibitions and special events set to honor the 100th anniversary of the Historic Columbia River Highway. You should plan on at least three days to fully experience the Gorge.

Photo credit: Tyler Roemer

Photo credit: Tyler Roemer

Leave no trace

Hike, run and ride on established trails. Follow “Leave No Trace” ethics while you’re in this precious National Scenic Area, and pack out your trash. Local author Laura O. Foster offers a full guide to the Gorge’s trails and natural areas in her new book, “Columbia Gorge Getaways: 12 Weekend Adventures, from Towns to Trails.”

Photo credit: Tyler Roemer

Photo credit: Thunder Island Brewing

Support the region

Shop, eat and drink at local businesses, and spread the love!

Photo credit: Thunder Island Brewing

About the Author: Jen Anderson

Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters and other online content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.

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  1. Marilyn McLane says…

    I think that this is my favorite place in the whole country.

    Written on August 1st, 2016 / Flag this Comment
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