The Other Side of the Gorge
Although this travel guide focuses on the sights of Oregon, it’s clear that the Columbia River has two shores, and only one is in Oregon. Cross a bridge and you’re on the Washington side of the Gorge, which offers a number of excellent destinations.
Across the Columbia from Hood River, the White Salmon River cuts a narrow canyon down through the gorge walls as it rushes to meet the Columbia. A number of white-water rafting guides offer half-day trips on the White Salmon, which bounces down through near-constant Class IV rapids. It’s a short but exhilarating rafting trip and easily added to a Gorge itinerary. Guided trips are roughly $60 per person and are available from River Drifters (800/972-0430, www.riverdrifters.net) and All Star Rafting and Kayaking (800/909-7238, http://asrk.com).
The area around Lyle is transforming into a wine-producing mecca. The hot summer weather is perfect for growing Syrah, Grenache, Roussane, Viognier, and other wine grapes from France’s Rhone Valley. Two notable wineries here are Syncline Wine Cellars (111 Balch Rd., Lyle, 509/493-4705, tasting 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thurs.–Sun. Feb.–Nov.), and Cor Cellars (151 Old Hwy. 8, 509/365-2744, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sun. Apr.–Nov.).
Down the road a bit, there’s Maryhill Winery (9774 Hwy. 14, 877/627-9445, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), 25 miles east of Lyle and directly across the Columbia from Biggs, Oregon; this winery offers a summer series of outdoor concerts in a natural amphitheater.
The Maryhill Museum (509/773-3733, www.maryhillmuseum.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily Mar. 15–Nov. 15, $7 adults, $6 seniors, $2 ages 6–16) is an idiosyncratic collection of art and artifacts in a grand country estate. You’d be right to think that a 20,000-square-foot manor house is rather unusual in the Columbia Gorge. Maryhill was built by Sam Hill, an early-20th-century mogul whose family controlled the Great Northern Railroad and who was instrumental in the building of the Columbia River Highway in the 1910s. Atop an 800-foot cliff above the Columbia, Maryhill was designed to resemble a French chateau and to serve both as home for Hill and his wife and as the center of a utopian Quaker community.
Although construction began on Maryhill in 1913, it wasn’t completed until 1926, as Hill lost interest in the project after it became clear that his wife was unwilling to live in this godforsaken country and the imported Belgian Quakers found the arid cliffs unsuitable for agriculture. Maryhill opened as a museum in 1940 and has a very good collection of Native American artifacts, an impressive set of 19th-century landscape and portrait paintings, sculpture and drawings by Auguste Rodin, and French fashion mannequins from the early 20th century. The museum also offers classes, lectures, and concerts.
Just east of Maryhill is another of Hill’s eccentric constructions. Dedicated to the area’s fallen soldiers from World War I, a full-scale replica of Stonehenge looms above the Gorge.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel