Through the Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

Our route 2016 - Through the Columbia River Gorge

Our route 2016 – Through the Columbia River Gorge

From Hoodsport, Washington, we made our way south to the Columbia River Gorge. Most of our route was on Interstate 5, so the drive went quickly. We did have rain, heavy at times, for most of the drive until just before we reached the gorge. We just drove a little slower than usual and had no problems along the route.

Once we reached the gorge, we turned east on Highway 14 and stayed on the north shore of the river. Our goal was the Lewis & Clark RV Park at North Bonneville, Washington. We planned to stay for a week at this park and ride out the busy Labor Day Holiday at a quiet place.

Upon arriving at the park, around 1 PM, we found the office closed, with instructions to pick a site that wasn’t marked reserved and return to the office after 4 PM to register. We found a nice pull through site with full hookups and 30 amp electrical and set up our rig. Later, we went to the office to register. To our consternation, the park had lost our reservation and indicated that our chosen site was reserved for the next month by another party.

We learned that the mix-up occurred when we made our reservations months before, just as the park was transitioning to new management. After a little back and forth discussion, we kept the spot and the other party was assigned another site. Whew!

As we had hoped, the park was a good place to sit out the busy travel days of the first week of September and Labor Day Holiday. The park was busy, mostly with sportsmen fishing the Columbia River, but quiet – except for the occasional passing freight train. At least there were no nearby crossings so the trains did not sound their horns. We enjoyed our stay at this forested park and used it as a base to explore along the Columbia River.

This area of the Columbia River Gorge was green and heavily forested, with dramatic hills and cliffs rising to the peaks of the Cascade Range. Further east, the rain forest gives way to sere grasslands in the rain shadow of the Cascades. There, the gorge passes through low cliffs of lava flows and volcanic tuff deposits – very different terrain from that in the heart of the Cascades.

We enjoyed taking day trips along the shores of the Columbia. One of our favorite spots was the overlook at Cape Horn with dramatic views of the Columbia. We enjoyed several nice dinners with micro-brews, nearby in Stevenson.

The second week of September we moved about 70 miles further east to Maryhill, Washington. We were somewhat nervous about taking Highway 14 due to the many tunnels with low side clearance along the route. We probably would have been fine since there is heavy semi-truck traffic using the route requiring even more clearance than us – we would be fine as long as we hugged the center-line and avoided getting too close to the tunnel sides. We opted for crossing the Bridge of the Gods Toll Bridge and taking Interstate 84 to Maryhill.

At Maryhill we stayed at the Peach Beach RV Park, a lovely private campground on the shores of the Columbia River. The park is bounded on one side by the river, by Maryhill State Park on another and by peach orchards on the other two. At Peach Beach, we had a pull-thru site with partial hookups – water and 50 amp electric.

We enjoyed drives along the Columbia River – dry grassland with rugged volcanic cliffs along the river – a very different scenery than just an hours drive to the west. We also took several trips into nearby Goldendale for groceries and laundry, as well as sight-seeing, including a visit to the small Goldendale Observatory. Jasmine & Pepper enjoyed swimming in the river at the park.

A highlight of our stay at Peach Beach was a visit from Kim’s long time friend, Carrie. Carrie drove out for the afternoon from Kennewick, Washington. We enjoyed catching up on life events from the last few years, as well as a nice lunch. (Carrie, we miss you & look forward to another visit, sometime soon.)

Just up the hill from the campground is the Maryhill Stonehenge World War I Memorial – an impressive and very photogenic reconstruction of Stonehenge. Kim & I visited the memorial one afternoon, but I returned several more times to photograph the monument, including at night. See below for a few daylight photos of the monument. The night photos are in a separate gallery, below.

One day we took a drive to Columbia Hills State Park, a park known for an impressive display of Native American Rock Art. I was hoping to view and photograph the rock art here and one petroglyph, in particular, “Tsagaglalal” or “She Who Watches”. The park features  rock art panels moved from along the Columbia River before that area flooded when the river was dammed. These panels are easy to get access to. (Sad to think how much more rock art was lost all along the Columbia due to the rising lake water.) Access to the other extant rock art, including “She Who Watches” is limited to guided tours only. The tours are only available two days a week, by appointment only. Guests without appointments are allowed, depending on tour size. We planned our trip for one of the tour days and were fortunate enough to join a tour with available space. Here are a few photos of Horsethief Lake and the rock art.

As noted above, I photographed the Maryhill Stonehenge WWI Memorial several times by night. The first – Friday night – coincided with a night photo field trip by a Portland-based photography group, as well as an astrophotographer and other visitors during the evening – quite the zoo. I enjoyed visiting with the other photographers, but did not get any serious work done that evening.

Saturday and Sunday evenings went better, although there were still a number of visitors each night – arriving with high-beam headlights and walking around with flashlights – mostly young couples out on dates, as well as a large fifth-wheel RV parking for the night. These evenings were much more productive. Here are some of the night photos:

That’s all for now. Take care and enjoy the journey!

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2 thoughts on “Through the Columbia River Gorge

  1. The Stonehenge memorial was very cool.

    Some of those photos would be great postcards, Jer! I wonder if you could sell them to the Visitor Center gift shop… if there is one?

    I am so happy for you guys – things are just things – these are memories that will last the rest of your lives! <3

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