The Hood River Valley
South of the town of Hood River, the river of the same name drains a wide valley filled with orchards. During the spring, nearly the entire region is filled with the scent and color of pink and white blossoms. Later on, fruit stands spring up along roadsides, selling apples, pears, cherries, berries, and vegetables. Watch for wineries, as wine grapes are the most recent crop to find a home in this famously fruitful valley.
Route 35, which traverses the The Hood River Valley, leads up the south and east flanks of Mount Hood, only 25 miles south. On a clear day, this is one of the most scenic drives in Oregon, and it is one leg of the popular Mount Hood Loop that is for many Portland visitors their first glimpse of rural Oregon.
Driving south on Route 35 to Parkdale, be sure to visit the Hutson Museum (4967 Baseline Rd., Parkdale, 541/352-6808, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Wed.–Fri., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat.–Sun., $1 adults, $0.50 children, children ages 6 and under free). Native American artifacts, pioneer hand tools, and one of the better rock collections in the Northwest make it worthwhile.
Also near Parkdale is a series of lava beds. From Route 35 south, turn right at the Mount Hood Country Store on Baseline Road en route to Parkdale, then right on Lava Bed Drive. The beds are located 1 mile west of town. Surprisingly, this lava did not emanate from the slopes of the mountain; it came from a vent more than three miles south and west of town. This flow is thought to be several thousand years old, a fraction of the 30-million-year volcanic legacy of the Columbia River Gorge.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel