The Columbia River Gorge

The view eastward from Cape Horn.
Photo ©J. Holloway

The Columbia River Gorge is like no place on earth.

The Gorge is a spectacular river canyon 85 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep. Carved by volcanic eruptions and Ice Age floods over millions of years, the Gorge is the only sea-level route through the Cascade Mountains. The cataclysmic floods also transformed flowing river tributaries into hanging waterfalls creating the largest concentration of waterfalls in North America.

This wild and beautiful place has also served as a human corridor for tens of thousands of years, and was explored by Lewis and Clark and traversed by thousands of Oregon Trail pioneers.

In 2009, National Geographic Traveler magazine rated the Columbia Gorge the world's sixth-best sustainable tourism destination, a reflection of not only the Gorge's natural beauty and numerous recreation options, but also how it has weathered the pressures of development, mass tourism, and other threats.

The Gorge is also host to a unique diversity of plant and animal life, including over 800 species of wildflowers, 15 of which exist nowhere else on earth.

No matter your interest, there is something for everyone in the Columbia Gorge. Today's visitors and inhabitants revel in the recreation opportunities that abound in the Gorge. Known as the windsurfing capital of the world, the Gorge is also great for hiking, biking, sailing, fishing and boating.

Hike the Gorge!
Explore the hundreds of hiking trails in the Gorge. Join Friends on guided hikes through our annual hiking program, or plan your own hike.

Help protect the Gorge for future generations by volunteering with Friends. Help maintain trails and parks, clear invasive species, lead hikes or just help us in the Portland office. Your help makes a huge difference.