Although the actual town of Goldendale lies about 12 miles north of the Columbia River, this easygoing community is a good base for exploring the eastern end of the Gorge. It’s home to one of the few notable restaurants in this vast but sparsely populated section of the Columbia River Valley, and it also has a couple of basic motels, a small downtown with a few funky cafés and shops, and the small but excellent Goldendale Observatory State Park. Views on the drive to Goldendale and in town itself are some of the most dramatic in the drier, eastern reaches of the Gorge—you’ll see soaring white wind turbines lining the grassy bluffs and cliffs on both sides of the river, and along U.S. 97 as it leads into Goldendale, you can see the snowcapped summit of Washington’s 12,281-foot Mt. Adams, which receives a little less attention than its southerly twin, Mt. Hood, but is actually taller and every bit as dramatic.

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