This Winter Find Yourself in Hood River
This winter, find yourself in Hood River, Oregon, a picturesque town in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Stay in Hood River and go skiing or boarding on nearby Mt. Hood, hike to dozens of waterfalls, visit local wineries, cideries and craft breweries, or kick back with a good book. No matter what winter means to you, Hood River is an ideal place to recharge and reconnect — with yourself, family and friends.
Get your turns.
In less than an hour you can be hopping on a chairlift at Mt. Hood Meadows or Cooper Spur Mountain Resort. Mt. Hood Meadows has 1,700 vertical feet of terrain for skiers and boarders of all levels, as well as groomed Nordic trails, while family-friendly Cooper Spur Resort offers tubing and beginner-friendly lift-accessed slopes. Additional nearby sledding options include Little John Sno Park and White River Sno Park.
Through April 2016, Mt. Hood Meadows, Hood River County Chamber of Commerce and local lodging partners are offering the Ski Hood deal. Stay with a participating Hood River lodging partner and access deep discounts of lift tickets and lesson packages — plus, there are no blackout or restricted dates. Learn more.
Or, read a page-turner.
Whether planning a personal retreat, a girls’ getaway or a family vacation, Hood River is a great place to unwind. From bookstores to galleries to museums, it offers an eclectic mix of indoor as well as outdoor wintertime activities.
Historic downtown Hood River is rich in unique boutiques like Melika and Silverado Jewelry Gallery to a classic independent bookstore, Waucoma Bookstore, to the kid-heaven that is G. Williker’s Toy Shoppe. Linger over a cappuccino at Doppio Coffee or Ground Coffee, check out local art at numerous galleries and shops, and check out live music at Naked Winery.
Explore some of the area’s culturally diverse local museums:
- Kids and grown-ups alike will love the fantastic Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) – one of the largest collections of still-flying antique airplanes and still-driving antique automobiles in the country.
- For a look into Hood River’s interesting backstory, stop by the Hood River County History Museum.
- The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum in nearby The Dalles tells the story of the Gorge’s natural and cultural history through vivid, interactive displays.
- Check out the Columbia Center for the Arts to see the latest local art installation, play, lecture or film.
Head to Hood River’s latest attraction: its thriving waterfront area. A favorite with both locals and visitors alike, Waterfront Park has a modern playground, beach and newly expanded trail. It’s also home to Solstice Wood Fire Café and Pfriem Family Brewers, where you can relax and enjoy the scenery.
The Mt. Hood Railroad, which leaves from downtown Hood River, is a scenic train ride and fine dining experience featuring the bounty of the Columbia River Valley. Book early for spring Blossom Time excursions (April).
May through October, go for a ride on the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, an authentic triple-deck paddle wheeler that leaves from Cascade Locks.
Not to be missed, the Big ART Walking Tour is a 2.65-mile art walk featuring 15 public art installations. Pick up a map at the Columbia Center for the Arts or the Hood River Chamber of Commerce.
Spin your wheels.
With numerous coffee shops, breakfast spots and take-and-go lunch offerings, Hood River is an excellent basecamp for avid cyclists any time of year. During the winter months, it’s the ideal launching point for some of the dryer, sunnier routes in the eastern Gorge. Plus, there are plenty of indoor activities – from spin classes to swimming to shopping to settling in with a good book and cup of tea.
Distance: 9 miles out-and-back
Bike Recommendation: Road or cyclocross bike in dry or wet conditions, mountain bike in snow.
Part of the Columbia River Highway State Trail, this section of the highway was abandoned in 1954 with the construction of Interstate 84 and then reopened in 2000 to walkers and cyclists only. The 4.5-mile segment between Mosier and Hood River features numerous lookouts, spectacular basalt cliffs, and two tunnels that were created during the construction of the original highway. It passes through two climate zones — temperate on the west and semi-arid on the east, creating a diverse landscape.
The west end of the trail starts less than one mile — but about 400 vertical feet — from downtown Hood River. Unless you want a steep hill climb, drive yourself and your bikes to the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead, where there’s a $5 day use fee. The trail can get icy in the winter, so before you go check weather conditions before you go and choose the right bike – or hiking shoes.
Avid cyclists turn this into a longer 26-mile ride by continuing along the Historic Columbia River highway to the scenic overlook at Rowena Crest before turning around and heading back to Hood River.
Distance: 22 miles out-and-back to Harris Ranch (can shorten by turning around earlier).
Bike Recommendation: Road, cyclocross or mountain bike
This trail is often referred to as one of the best year-round rides in Oregon. The rails-to-trails route is a low-grade hard-packed gravel trail that’s steeped in history. You’ll pass an abandon home, railroad car, and barn while enjoying breathtaking scenery along the Deschutes River. Around mile 11.5, you’ll come to the abandoned Harris Ranch, which is a good lunch and turn-around spot. Mountain bikes aren’t necessary, but they provide a more comfortable ride along this gravel trail. The trail starts at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area, located just east of The Dalles off Interstate 84.
Distance: 31 miles, one-way
Bike Recommendation: Cyclocross or mountain bike
Another rails-to-trail gem, this route connects the towns of Lyle and Goldendale, Washington. The trail is a mix of hard-packed gravel and small rocks, creating a non-technical ride in a remote and breathtaking location along a wild and scenic river. Swale Canyon is popular among birders and naturalist, especially in April and May when the wildflowers are in full bloom. Because the trail passes alongside private property, respect the trail’s leash law. The lower trailhead starts in the town of Lyle, directly off of Washington Highway 14.
Find more local bike ride recommendations at RideOregonRide.com.
Or, kick up your heels.
If the weather’s not cooperating with your outdoor cycling plans, work up a sweat at Flow Yoga and Day Spa, which offers a mix of spin, yoga and TRT classes, as well as massage treatments.
Just want to relax with a good book? Stop by Waucoma Bookstore in downtown Hood River to find their latest picks for good reads. Then head to the Good Medicine Tea Lounge for a freshly brewed cup of tea, decadent treats, comfortable reading chairs and a warm fire.
Come evening, catch a play or film at the Columbia Center for the Arts. Stop by one of the local wine tasting rooms or pubs for live music. Or, catch a flick — and enjoy a slice of pizza and local microbrew at the same time — at the Skylight Theater (Andrew’s Pizza).
Planning a personal retreat or a getaway with friends?
Hood River has all you need for a rejuvenating reprieve. Take a yoga class, eat healthy meals, go for a soulful waterfall hike, shop at specialty boutiques, take in a museum or a play, or get a facial or massage.
Bringing the whole family?
Take a walk along the Hood River waterfront trail, stop and play at Waterfront Park, then warm up at one of many nearby restaurants. Catch a movie, swim in the town’s indoor heated pool, or take a ski or boarding lessons at Mt. Hood Meadows.