Visiting Stevenson, Washington

Stevenson, Washington; located riverside in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge is base camp to an endless amount of free sights and activities throughout the gorge. Stevenson is a jack of all trades when it comes to entertaining visitors; there is something for everyone, whether it be an outdoor adventure, romantic tryst, wine & culinary tour, golfing expedition, fishing trip, historic experience or family bonding.

Hiking in the area is available for all skill levels. The most popular hiking icon in the area is Beacon Rock. The giant monolith was once the core of an ancient volcano and acquired its name from Lewis and Clark during their expedition west. An average hiker can reach the top in less than thirty minutes, while enjoying spectacular views of the river and gorge. The trail consists of switchbacks built out from the face of the rock, thus is not suggested for those with a fear of heights. For all hikers there is the Hamilton Mountain trail. It offers a 7.5 mile loop for more experienced hikers, while families and beginners can walk a mere 1.25 mile up the trail to view Rodney Falls and the Pool of the Winds. For intermediate to experienced hikers, Dog Mountain is a very steep 6.5 mile roundtrip hike with great views of the Columbia River and a flourish of wildflowers.

After a long hike there is nothing better than a cold beer. Walking Man Brewery, Stevenson’s award-winning craft brewery, is located just a block off of the riverfront. There is a reason this brewery has fans around the world; it has an all-star selection of brews and a great northwest vibe. If you can’t make it to the brewery, their beers are offered in nearly every restaurant in town.

Whether you’ve worked up an appetite taking advantage of the great outdoors or just appreciate a good meal, Stevenson has an impressive dining list to choose from. On a sunny day sit on the patio with a fresh seafood dish at The Crab Shack and watch the windsurfers and kite boarders soar by on the Columbia. The restaurant’s owner was a seafood buyer for over 25 years and only serves fresh seafood to his customers. In the center of town is the Big River Grill which serves Northwest cuisine. Due to the restaurants selection and service, it is a bustling spot filled with locals. Try out their Smoked Sturgeon Spread as an appetizer. Across the street is Joe’s El Rio; a Mexican restaurant with all the classics; burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, as well as a delish Mahi Mahi fish taco and some vicious margaritas. Slightly out of the city center, and inside Skamania Lodge, is The Cascade Room, where patrons dine with the Columbia River Gorge as their backdrop. If you need to reenergize for the afternoon or just need a break, stop at Bahma Coffee Bar and take in the unique atmosphere. This is a great hang out with board games and books to keep you and your crowd entertained. For dessert, try out Granny’s Gedunk Ice Cream Parlor and satisfy your sweet tooth! Looking for a night cap? Enjoy a late night drink in the River Rock Lounge at Skamania Lodge.

Once you’ve filled your belly and are ready to see more of Stevenson, try out the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum. Entrance starts at $5 and there are interesting exhibits for everyone to see including replica of a 19th century fish wheel (which is now banned due to how efficient it was) and a short movie that explains how the Columbia River Gorge came to be.

Five minutes down the road from the Interpretive Center is the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center. Driving up to the dam you’ll likely spot one of the many sea lions that have nestled nearby. These large creatures are causing problems for the fish population but are nonetheless impressive to see hunting in their wild habitat. Inside the visitor’s center, you can take a tour of the dam and view various fish making their journey up the fish ladders. If you cross the Bridge of the Gods to the Oregon side of the dam check out the Bonneville Fish Hatchery; home to Herman, the 70 year old, 11 foot long, 500 pound sturgeon. He is quite a sight. Continuing on the Oregon side of the Columbia, about 15 minutes from Stevenson, is Multnomah Falls, the second tallest year-round waterfall in the nation (stretching 620 feet from top to bottom).

After a long day of outdoor activities and Gorge sights, check into Skamania Lodge, a relaxing escape for any traveler. Upgrading to a river view room with a fireplace makes leaving the room a difficult feat. Fortunately, the hotel has many amenities to lure guests back out; there are two hot tubs, a health center, spa, golf course, tennis court, basketball court, hiking trails along the grounds, a dining room and lounge. If the Gorge winds are what pulled you to Stevenson, try out the Columbia Gorge Riverside Lodge conveniently located on Bob’s Beach. It’s a popular launch point for any windsurfer or kite boarder (and it beats paying fees to launch on the Oregon side). If you have your gear, the only effort needed to get out on the river is to open your front door. The Columbia Gorge Riverside Lodge offers very competitive room rates and several rooms are equipped with hot tubs built-in to their font decks –not too shabby! The EconoLodge is another location with competitive pricing.

If one spa treatment is not enough, take a trip one town over to the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa. Listed as one of the Top 30 Spas by Spas of America, it is an incredible resort secluded within the forest of the Gorge. Choose from a long list of treatments including massage, facials and mineral baths and pamper yourself with high-end skin treatment by Sundãri. You will leave rejuvenated. On the other side of Stevenson is the historic Carson Mineral Hot Springs Spa & Golf Resort, offering a mineral bath, wrap and massage treatment.

Looking for an event? During the summer, Stevenson hosts the Blues, Brews, and BBQs event and the Bluegrass Festival. Skamania Lodge throws concerts on Friday afternoons including the famous Janis Ian this August!

Late August adventurers can go huckleberry hunting in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Mushroom hunting is also a big draw in the area (but huckleberry and mushroom fanatics alike will keep their hunting grounds on the down low). For extended stays, taste the 27 wineries in the area, Maryhill Winery (2009 Washington Winery of the Year – Winepress NW) is a good spot to start the tour. To properly take in the beauty of the area, take a drive along the famous Highway 14 or do a tour of Gorge waterfalls and viewpoints. Winters in Stevenson are just as beautiful and activity-filled as the rest of the seasons. The city is a short drive from the Mt. Hood ski and snowboard area. Even closer to the city are scenic snowshoeing and cross country ski trails. The Columbia River Gorge is famous for its beauty and natural wonders all year round!

Stevenson, WA is 45 minutes outside of Portland, OR and 3 ½ hours from Seattle, WA. To visit, fly into Portland International Airport and hop onto I-84 East if you fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport take I-5 South to Highway 14.

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