Day 11: Joseph to Hood River
(Driving time: 268 miles/4.5 hours)
Goodbye, Wallowas; hello, Columbia River Gorge! Get ready for your sixth Wonder. The drive down I-84 takes you into the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which stretches from the Deschutes River in the east to the Sandy River in the west. With the twin ridgelines on either side of the river, the dramatic basalt cliffs and outcroppings stand as a history lesson to how this gorge was formed more than 10,000 years ago by floodwaters from what is now Montana.
On the way, stop for breakfast or lunch in Pendleton at the Rainbow Cafe, which has been serving the public for more than 125 years. Take a detour off the interstate on U.S. 395 to the town of Echo for some wine tasting at Sno Road Winery.
In The Dalles, browse the shelves at Klindt’s Booksellers — the oldest bookstore in Oregon and a great source of Pacific Northwest history, geology and fiction. The Dalles has a growing number of great wineries, too, including Sunshine Mill and Maison de Glace wineries downtown and Dry Hollow Vineyards to the south.
Take the Historic Columbia River Highway west toward the town of Mosier, where you can find more good wineries (like Analemma Wines and Garnier Vineyards at Mayerdale), as well as a cidery/mercantile and cherry and apricot orchards. Mosier is also the eastern end of the Twin Tunnels Trail, a 4.5-mile section of the Historic Columbia River Highway that is closed to automobile traffic,but great fun for walking or biking.
From Mosier, head west on I-84 for five miles to the town of Hood River. Here you can explore the bursting craft-beer and cider scene (at this writing, Hood River had five breweries and nine cideries in operation).