Explore The State Parks Near The Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is known as the “Northwest’s Beloved Outdoor Playground.” While the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a highlight of the area, there are also several state parks to explore during your trip. Pack your bags, book your stay at a Hood River bed and breakfast, and put on your walking shoes for an amazing outdoor adventure. Here are some of the best state parks to explore in the Columbia River Gorge.

 Viento State Park

Located in Cascade Locks, Oregon, Viento is known for their water sports. You’ll see huge groups of people paddle boarding, kayaking, and participating in some of the best windsurfing on the Columbia River. It’s named after the former Viento Railroad Station that used to be on the property and translates to¬†wind in Spanish. It’s also a great place to pitch a tent, as their campsites are spacious and have water access nearby. A one-mile hiking trail from Viento takes you to Starvation Creek Waterfall.

Starvation Creek State Park

Starvation Creek is just a 30-minute walk via a hiking trail from Viento State Park in Cascade Locks. Two theories come from the name of Starvation Creek. One is that pioneers who passed through almost starved due to lack of food. Another legend says that a train broke down at the park during heavy snowfall and passengers avoided starvation thanks to two Hood River natives who brought them food. Either way, Starvation is a great place for hiking with several trails that spread to Starvation Creek Waterfall, Mt. Defiance, and The Mt. Hood National Forest.

Ainsworth State Park

Ainsworth State Park is very popular with the locals. They recommend making a reservation ahead of time if you plan on camping at their small campground. The state park is a great place to hike if you want to see Columbia River Gorge Water Falls or St. Peter’s Dome, a basalt monolith with an elevation of 2,000 feet above the gorge. Hikes include sights such as Oneonta Falls, Larch Mountain, and Horsetail Falls.

Bridal Veil Falls State Scenic Viewpoint

While there’s no camping at Bridal Veil Falls, it’s a great place for day hikes and picnics. The viewpoint was once the site of the Bridal Veil Company that used the waterfall as a flume to bring timber from the sawmill to the railroad. Take the upper trail to see the falls from the top where you’ll also be able to see the Pillars of Hercules basalt tower. The lower trail is a mile round-trip hike to the base of the falls.

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