Hood River as Art Town

Flanked by Mount Adams to the north and Mount Hood to the south, with the mighty Columbia River in between, Hood River’s artistic vortex is the natural outcome of its majestic beauty. Pair this eye-popping scenic beauty with a land known for its abundance, and it’s no wonder that it is a mecca for artists and makers today.

Austin Smith

It’s easy to fold oneself into the artistic experience when visiting Hood River. While exploring downtown, stop by one of the two art collectives with their array of paintings, jewelry, pottery, metal works, sculptures, photography and textiles. Or you can visit the Columbia Center for the Arts, known for its curated exhibits displaying both local and regional art, and year-round art classes. Classes for both children and adults are available year round at various art studios, magically making masters out of novices.

Hood River itself is an artistic canvas, with several thought-provoking murals, plus the Big Art Walking Tour, a 2.65-mile self-guided tour that leads you to 18 eye-catching sculptures located along the waterfront and throughout downtown Hood River.

Hood River and the Columbia Gorge are host to several art-related happenings worth planning your trip around. Launching in June 2019 is Hood River Art & Vine, a day-long celebration showcasing the Columbia Gorge’s finest art, wine, and a sampling of its cuisine. Curated by Gorge Artists, this event is a wonderful way to see (and acquire!) the wide array of work being produced throughout the Gorge, in one convenient location. Hood River Valley Harvest Fest, a celebration of local bounty, features dozens of artists and artisans from around the region. Where else can you pick up a one-of-a-kind art piece and a crate of apples? Taking place in October, Harvest Fest is the perfect launch for the holiday shopping season. Spring visitors also can check out the annual Gorge Artists Open Studio Tour, a three-day event that gives people a rare glimpse into the private sanctums of more than 40 artists on both sides of the Columbia River.

Outside of Hood River are more opportunities for delving into the Gorge’s rich artistic culture. To the east of Hood River, the Maryhill Museum of Art is a destination unto itself. Close to the famed Stonehenge replica and housing an astonishing number of Rodin sculptures—along with an intriguing origin story—it draws people from far and wide each season (March 15-November 15).

Bookend your art explorations with visits to the area’s plentiful wineries, hikes and other adventures, and you’ll find that Hood River has something for everyone in your crew—along with artistic inspiration for yourself.