PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s the view often seen on Oregon postcards: Mt. Hood surrounded by the sprawling Hood River Valley and the Columbia River Gorge.
There are a lot of very popular sites in the region, but chances are you can find something new to turn into your next adventure when it’s safe to get back out there. Regional Coordinator for Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge Lizzie Keenan reminds people that while the Columbia River Gorge is currently closed, it may instead be a good time to start learning about new places around the region you can start to plan to visit.
“Now is not the time to visit. Right now we need to be supporting and looking out for our rural health care systems and ensure they do not get overwhelmed,” said Keenan.
When the state does fully reopen, here are some places to think about visiting.
“Help spread out and go to those more open places like Dufur and the Dalles. There’s a 10 mile trail that most people don’t know about along the Columbia River – The Riverfront Trail from the Discovery Center all the way out to the Dalles Dam Visitors Center,” she said. “A lot of folks also forget about Estacada, a really cute town at the base of Mt. Hood. They’ve got a really cool mural program, there’s over 20 different murals in this tiny downtown area, and from there you’re basically at the Clackamas River. You can paddle, hike… there’s Pup Creek Falls – which is a good alternative to a busy waterfall hike in the gorge.”
And with ski resorts now allowed to begin reopening certain programs – hitting the slopes could be on your list this summer.
“Even up at Timberline Lodge, it can get busy, but remember they have year-round skiing,” Keenan explains, “If your ski season was cut short you could ski a glacier this summer.”
Socially distant scenic drives are also a great way to see the area and support local business when communities begin to reopen.
“Consider the food trails in our region. We’ve got the Fruit Loop in the Hood River Valley – pick up food and have a picnic on one of the trails in that area. There’s also the East Gorge Food Trail, which really came to fruition a year ago. It covers farms, restaurants and breweries and wineries in Mosier and the Dalles and Dufur. You can create some really cool road trips out of those.”
Keenan also recommends checking out books like Wild, by Cheryl Strayed inspiring your next hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Or add a couple new podcasts to your listening queue. Territory Tales spotlights local businesses in the region, while Hear in the Gorge follows stories of the region’s history – like the Crag Rats – the oldest mountain SAR team in the country.
You can also get the kids involved with an Oregon Trail Activity book featuring educational games .
“It’s an awesome way to keep your kids entertained and teach them about a really cool piece of the history of Oregon,” said Keenan.
More than 5,000 jobs in the region are supported by tourism. When we can begin exploring again, those communities will need a little extra wanderlust to survive.
“Buy gift cards for some of your favorite places, or online merchandise,” Keenan suggests, “Support your favorite breweries and wineries and restaurants – that will support them now and then when things reopen, you have a prepaid trip ready to go and explore.”