Explore the Small Towns of the Columbia Gorge

There's much to see in the small towns along the Columbia River Gorge.


The marquee at the historic Liberty Theatre fronts just one of the town’s architectural highlights. Boutiques and galleries fill other 1920s buildings, and dining options range from Russian crêpes at Natalia’s Cafe (437 NE Fourth Ave) to the American burgers and RC Cola at K&M Drive-In (kmdrivein.com).


Naturalists lead walks through the wetlands of Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, while in town Our Bar dishes farm-fresh brunches and Amnesia Brewing (amnesiabrews.com) pours the town’s best-known beers. Washougal MX Park hosts motocross races on natural terrain from spring to fall.

North Bonneville

It’s impossible to miss the imposing Bonneville Dam, built to produce electricity in the 1930s as part of FDR’s New Deal. Find the best powerhouse views and fish spotting at the dam’s Washington Shore Visitor Complex.


When famed explorers Lewis and Clark floated past this spot, they were centuries too early for elk meat poppers at their namesake Clark & Lewie’s Travelers Rest Saloon and Grill or ales and live music at Walking Man Brewing. Bet they would’ve loved playing golf at Skamania Lodge, though.


Ascend to the higher reaches of the gorge for a four-mile round-trip hike to the 100-foot Falls Creek Falls, then return to town for beers at Backwoods Brewing Company. For a relaxing massage or mineral soak, stay at the Carson Hot Springs Resort.

White Salmon

Though the town itself has quaint small-town blocks to stroll, the real draw is rafting down the frothing White Salmon River with the family of guides at Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys. Another major draw: exploring the chilly lava-carved Ice Caves.


Quaker Samuel Hill named his bluff-top mansion after his daughter, a name it retained when it became the Maryhill Museum of Art. After art gazing, enjoy some of the region’s best produce at the Gunkel Orchards Fruit Stand

--Allison Williams