: Dylan VanWeelden

Take a 5-Day EV Road Trip Along the Gorge

Keep your carbon footprint low as you adventure along the scenic Columbia River Gorge by electric vehicle.
March 27, 2023

Traveling by electric vehicle may require more planning than traditional road trips, but the hunt for a charging station also gives you a perfect excuse to get out of the car and experience the sights. That’s easy along the Columbia River, where spectacular Gorge cliffs give way to eastern farmlands with open skies and inland steppes as Interstate 84 takes you through numerous small towns, each with its own character.  

Communities from Hood River east to Pendleton, 150 miles away, are working on a plan to add more and more charging stations, so check sites like PlugShare, Way or even Google Maps to plot out your route. Here is a five-day itinerary for great places to hike, grab a bite and relax that will leave you recharged, too.

A sandy beach area along the Columbia river. People lounge, swim, and fly kites.
Photo by Joni Kabana

Day 1: Experience Hood River Energy

This town on the Columbia River about 60 miles east of Portland bustles with outdoor-active energy, as kiteboarders and windsurfers ride the winds, and mountain bikers tackle the trails below Oregon’s tallest peak, 11,240-foot Mt. Hood. And with 57 charging stations, including a 16-stall Tesla Supercharger station, Hood River is also a great place to gather and spend some energy. 

It’s easy to watch the watersports action from the Hood River Event Site in the northeast corner of Hood River Waterfront Park, where you’ll also find places like Oregon Kiteboarding that offers lessons. A waterfront trail takes you out on the Hook, a dogleg of land that juts into the Columbia. There, the folks at Hood River SUP and Kayak can get you on the water in a rental craft or guide you on a two-hour afternoon or sunset tour. 

When it’s time to refuel, breweries like Full Sail Brewing Co., Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom and pFriem Family Brewers offer sustenance and suds. The Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel sits atop a 200-foot-high bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area with condos, hotel rooms and charging stations for guests.

Day 2: Taste the Gorge on the Fruit Loop

Although you’ll find an excellent wine walk at tasting rooms downtown — including operations like Evoke Winery, Stoltz Winery and The Pines 1852 — no trip to Hood River is complete without a tour of the lovely countryside south of town on the Hood River Fruit Loop

The 35-mile-long route follows a series of pleasing country roads south of Hood River to take you past no fewer than 27 fruit stands located on the farms where the goods were picked. The offerings go beyond succulent cherries, pears and apples, though. Fox-Tail Cider & Distillery converts some of that fruit into delicious hard ciders, while Hood River Lavender Farms is a fifth-generation, woman-owned operation that sells decadent bath and body products. Stave & Stone Winery at the Vineyard — just across the street — has a charging station for your vehicle as you stop to sip wines. 

Two people in sun hats pick fruits off trees in an orchard.
Photo by Michael Hanson

Day 3: Plug and Play in the East Gorge

Rolling east out of Hood River, you’ll come to Mosier, a town loved for its cherry orchards, vineyards and relaxing vibe that includes ways to sample the area’s finest wines. The pet- and picnic-friendly Idiot’s Grace, across the street from Garnier Vineyards, makes organic, wild-fermented wines and offers tastings. You can charge your EV there, too.  

Mosier has excellent, easy paths for stretching your legs. The Twin Tunnels segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail gives walkers and bikers 4 miles of car-free, wheelchair-accessible pavement that passes through two restored tunnels. 

Pushing on to The Dalles, 18 miles east, stop by the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum for live raptor presentations and natural-history exhibits. In town you can plug in at the Lewis & Clark Park along the river or head to the five charging stalls at the Tesla Supercharger at Cousins Country Inn. The Fort Dalles Museum houses 19th-century military and pioneer artifacts in one of Oregon’s oldest museums. For eats, try the salmon hash at Petite Provence or a slice at Kainos Coffee and Pizza

Small cabins along a paved path facing the Columbia River at sunset.
Photo courtesy of River Lodge & Cabins

Day 4: Beyond the Gorge to Brews in Boardman

Here you’ll pass the mouth of the mighty Deschutes River at Heritage Landing, a crossing on the Oregon Trail and gateway to the river’s 100-mile-long Wild and Scenic section. You’ll find a charger across the river on the east bank at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area, where 6 miles of trails take you up toward the canyon rim or along the Deschutes. 

In Boardman, about 80 miles east of The Dalles, you’ll find Burnt Field Brewing inside a renovated train depot from 1916 with pizza and pub grub. Two Barrels Taps + Grill features Sunday brunches and has a collection of cabins and rooms right on the river at the neighboring River Lodge + Cabins. A Tesla-only Supercharging station sits at the SAGE Center, an interactive museum and visitor center with exhibits that showcase the industries that shape the region.  

Day 5: History, Hats and Electrons in Pendleton 

Get off the highway and swing by the Irrigon Wildlife Area on your way to Umatilla to look for painted turtles in the summer’s early-morning hours or upland birds and waterfowl that are present most of the year. A short journey (7 miles) south brings you to Hermiston, where you’ll find a charger at hotels like the Holiday Inn and Best Western as well as at Space Age Fuel. The Pheasant Blue Collar Bar & Grill will keep you happy with smash burgers on pretzel buns and bowls of homemade clam chowder. 

Make a plan to spend most of the day in and around Pendleton, about 30 miles east. The city, famous for its annual Round-Up rodeo and namesake whisky, feels very much like it probably did in the 19th century, with a vibrant downtown full of historic buildings, colorful taverns like The Rainbow Cafe and unique shopping. 

Charge the car and get your bearings at the Heritage Station Museum, which explores the history of Umatilla County. The city’s underground tour takes you below the streets to see the at-times sultry side of the town’s early years. Swing by Pendleton Hat Company for a custom cowboy-hat fitting or L.L. Bevington for handmade leather goods. End your day with a stroll along the Pendleton River Parkway and refuel with a giant steak at Hamley Steakhouse and Saloon, an institution with airy ceilings enlivened by a system of belt-driven paddle fans. 

Come evening, get yourself a room at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino, where you’ll find an eight-stall Tesla Supercharging station, an indoor pool and a new family FunPlex with bowling, arcade and cinema. 

About The

Tim Neville
Tim Neville is a writer based in Bend where he writes about the outdoors, travel and the business of both. His work has been included in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and Best Food Writing, and earned various awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and the Society of Professional Journalists. Tim has reported from all seven continents and spends his free time skiing, running and spending time with his family.

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