Take in the Sights in Hood River
If you like taking scenic drives, Hood River, Oregon, is a stellar basecamp for exploring two spectacular Oregon scenic byways: the 105-mile Mount Hood Scenic Byway and the 70-mile Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway.
From Hood River, the Mount Hood Scenic Byway leads south on OR-35 toward Mount Hood, which, at 11,245 feet, is the fourth highest peak in the entire Cascade Range. The byway winds its way through the Hood River Valley on the route known locally as the Hood River County Fruit Loop. The valley’s fertile volcanic soils have made it one of Oregon’s top fruit-growing regions. Fill up on strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples, pears, vegetables and homemade goodies. Then, continue along this byway toward Mt. Hood Meadows, which opens in the summertime for scenic chairlift rides and special events. The iconic Timberline Lodge is also a must-see along this route.
The Historic Columbia River Highway celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 and continues to dazzle visitors who take the time to drive what’s long been known as the King of Roads. Weaving its way through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, this scenic byway winds past stunning viewpoints and rushing waterfalls as well as numerous charming towns with all the urban amenities you’ll need during your stay.
If driving the byway west to east, some popular stops include the 1918 Vista House, Crown Point, Bonneville Lock and Dam, the Bridge of the Gods and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum. No drive along this byway would be complete without a waterfall hike. Go here for some suggestions of trails to suit all fitness levels.
Visitors can rent bikes to explore the 4.5-mile car-free section of the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail between Hood River and Mosier. The Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail was abandoned in 1954 with the construction of Interstate 84 and then reopened in 2000 to walkers and cyclists only. Start at the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead West ($5 day-use fee). At the end of the trail, cyclists can drop into the town of Mosier for a bite to eat or a stop at the Mosier Famers Market (Sundays, 4-7 pm, June-September).
All three of these routes are very popular on weekends in the summertime. Consider going mid-week or early in the morning to avoid congestion.