When to Go
- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
When to Go
Winter weather in the Columbia Gorge and the Mt. Hood area is much more severe than in Portland and western Oregon. At times I-84 may be closed because of snow and ice. If you're planning a winter visit, be sure to carry plenty of warm clothes. High winds and single-digit temps are par for the course around 6,000 feet in January. Note that chains are a requirement for traveling over mountain passes.
Temperatures in the gorge are mild year-round, rarely dipping below 30 degrees in winter and hovering in the high 70s in mid-summer. As throughout Oregon, however, elevation is often a more significant factor than season, and an hour-long drive to Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge can reduce those mid-summer temps by 20-30 degrees. Don't forget that the higher reaches of Mt. Hood retain snow as late as August.
In early fall, look for maple, tamarack, and aspen trees around the gorge, bursting with brilliant red and gold color. No matter the season, the basalt cliffs, the acres of lush forest, and that glorious expanse of water make the gorge worth visiting time and again.
Columbia Gorge Bluegrass Festival. One of the premier bluegrass fests in the West takes place in Stevenson, Washington every fourth weekend in July. www.columbiagorgebluegrass.net.
Maryhill Winery Concert Series. Twenty minutes from The Dalles on the Washington side of the Gorge, Maryhill Winery hosts late summer concerts in a cozy, 4,000-person amphitheater. www.maryhillwinery.com.
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