The Mission of the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of the Columbia River Gorge and Wasco County through collection, preservation, and interpretation of cultural and natural history resources.
The building is a 48,200 sq. ft. facility, which won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for its appealing design. The museum is family-friendly and wheelchair accessible. The Center is situated on a 54-acre point of land adjacent to the Columbia River and the Historic Columbia River Highway. The site provides walking trails, a pond, and scenic overlooks. Its location on the east end of the Columbia River Gorge is an ecosystem transition zone, facilitating the interpretation of both the rain forest west of the Cascade Mountains and the arid region to the east.
The area includes one of the oldest continuously occupied areas in North America (over 11,000 years), immediate proximity to one of the largest rivers on the continent, and access to the Lewis and Clark and Oregon Trails.
In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing films in the theater located on-site. Spend a little time in the Columbia River Trading Co. Our museum store offers a unique selection of art, jewelry, educational toys & games, books, DVDs, home decor and more. Many items are created in the Pacific Northwest by area artisans.
The grounds have been painstakingly restored with native vegetation, serving to promote soil and water conservation, and appreciation for the natural landscape. From early spring to late fall, they are graced with ninety blooming native plant species that are adapted to the dry, windblown environment of the eastern end of the gorge. A wildflower database helps visitors identify plants and the interpretive trail focuses on the variety of vegetation and wildlife supported by the habitat along the banks of the Columbia River. You will see willows, cottonwoods, sedges and cattails, as well as numerous varieties of grasses, wildflowers, and other plants native to the Gorge. Songbirds, water fowl, reptiles, amphibians, foxes, and raccoons are some examples of the wildlife that lives here. The handicap accessible trails offer incredible views of the Columbia River and Klickitat Hills.