GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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The mighty Columbia River flows west through the Cascade Range, past the Mount Hood Wilderness Area, to Astoria. It's a natural border between Oregon and Washington to the north, and bridges link roads on both sides at Biggs Junction, the Dalles, Hood River, and Cascade Locks. The watery recreation corridor stretches from the Dalles in the east to the east Portland 'burbs. For most of that drive, snowcapped Mt. Hood looms to the southwest. Hood River drains the mountain's north side, emptying into the Columbia at its namesake town. Follow it upstream and you'll trade the warm, low-elevation climes of the gorge for the high country's tall pines and late-season snows. While it feels remote, the massive peak is just outside Portland. Look up from almost any neighborhood in town to see its white dome, just 60 miles east and accessible via U.S. 26 through Gresham.