Friday, October 4, 2019
The 1800′ Bridge of the Gods located at Cascade Locks ties the states of Oregon and Washington together. This steel truss bridge was completed in 1929.The Pacific Crest Trail crosses over the bridge. Foot traffic crossing the bridge must share the traffic lanes.
The bridge’s toll is $2.00 for autos. We are in the area long enough to warrant the purchase of a toll ticket book which reduces the cost by half. The distance between bridges over the Columbia ranges between 25 and 40 miles so traffic is steady on all of them.
We crossed the Bridge of the Gods and hooked a right onto the Lewis and Clark Highway, Washington 14, the main two lane highway that parallels the Columbia. A few miles later we arrive at Stevenson, WA (1450 souls) the seat of Skamania County.
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church
The town has a nice community grocery store and that’s where we do most of our shopping. We also attend Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church. The church doesn’t have it’s own priests so they travel from Portland.
Downtown Stevenson has much more to offer than Cascade Locks. More variety in restaurants, a pharmacy, a well stocked hardware store, a nice grocery store, fairgrounds, and a dock large enough for ships, including the big stern wheeler tour ships American Pride and Queen of the West.
Queen of the West on left; American Pride on right
The drive east past Stevenson on Washington Highway 14 is very scenic. It parallels the Columbia giving one a different perspective of the high peaks and steep volcanic bluffs across the river as well as a close up look at the Washington side.
Several miles east of Stevenson the rock outcroppings extend clear to the river making tunnels for the roadway and railway a necessity. Visually the tunnels are outstanding. None are very long but going through narrow, relatively low tunnels one after the other is pretty cool!
Two hatcheries lie between Stevenson and White Salmon. Little White Salmon is tucked in a narrows at the confluence of the Little White Salmon River and Drano Lake while Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery is on the Columbia and is closer to the town of White Salmon. We visited both and the two don’t seem to have an abundance of salmon returning from the ocean.
The city of White Salmon (2500 souls) is in Klickitat County. It sits on a very high bluff overlooking the Columbia River. The town is a mecca for outdoorsmen.
Hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, exploring water falls, kite boarding, windsurfing and rafting are all attractions. Husum Falls on the White Salmon River is the tallest commercially rafted waterfall in the country. And the views of Mt. Hood are to die for.
From White Salmon one can cross the Columbia via the 4418′ Hood River Draw Bridge. The two lane bridge opened in 1924 and currently handles over 7000 crossings a day. Many of the vehicles crossing are trucks, 8.5 foot wide trucks with side view mirrors that stick out farther- the lanes are 9 feet wide. You do the math….. it’s too narrow for the modern trucking industry but trucks still cross that bridge managing to squeeze by one another.
We enjoy visiting the Washington side of the Gorge as it is a little more accessible to the marvels of nature. Quite a few less traveled country roads follow river canyons that lead lead to beautiful sites such as Panther Falls, the Mt. St. Helen’s Overlook, Goose Lake, etc.
The Oregon side is dominated by high basalt cliffs without intersecting river valleys/canyons so it doesn’t have as many roads to explore. That doesn’t mean there isn’t much to see on the south side of the Columbia as there certainly is.
Next time we’ll do more exploring and fill you in on what’s been going on here at the hatchery.