Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Cascade Locks, OR

  • Published 2023/04/24

Cascade Locks is a riverside city on the Columbia River Highway in Oregon.

Starting from its name, Cascade Locks would surely fascinate anyone who has not visited this city before.

This small Oregon City in Hood River County is a haven for outdoor adventurers.

Cascade Locks is home to some of the most breathtaking natural areas of Oregon and exciting activities you won’t find anywhere else.

Whether you’re visiting Cascade Locks for a quick trip or you want to explore the entire Hood River County, you will surely fall in love with Cascade Locks.

Admire its magical beauty, fantastic activities, and attractions.

Maybe you’ll even consider moving there permanently.

Read this post about the best things to do in Cascade Locks, OR, if you want to know more about this city.

Check Out the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Welcome sign of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Ory Gonian /

There’s no better way to start your Cascade Locks travel adventure than visiting the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Visiting this natural area 26 minutes east of Cascade Locks takes you to a front-row seat for the magical landscape of the Cascade Mountains.

This attraction in Cascade Locks is famous for its awe-inspiring basalt cliffs, waterfalls, and rolling mountains.

Emerald falls in Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

JPL Designs /

As you stroll along the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area trails, the entire landscape grows bigger and grander, giving you a mesmerizing experience.

There are many ways to explore the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

You can either hike along the waterfront to discover its hidden waterfalls.

Otherwise, trek up to Dog Mountain for more scenic views of the canyon and the river itself.

Two people admiring the views from Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Bob Pool /

Cross the Bridge of the Gods

Aerial view of Bridge of the Gods

James Nesterwitz /

From the name itself, the Bridge of the Gods would surely pique any tourist’s curiosity.

You should also visit this famous bridge in Cascade Locks that crosses the famous Columbia River.

This famous bridge in Cascade Locks is famous for its beautiful architecture, size, and location.

The bridge instantly captivates anyone who would visit it.

The Bridge of the Gods earned its name through its structure and design.

It is a suspended steel truss cantilever bridge above the massive gorge.

Structure of Bridge of the Gods

ESB Professional /

In addition, its name also comes from Native American lore, making this bridge more fascinating to explore.

The Port of Cascade Locks runs the famous infrastructure, spanning 1,127 feet in length and 44 feet high.

Finished in 1926, the bridge is still operational.

Crossing the famous Bridge of the Gods is a one-of-a-kind experience in Cascade Locks you shouldn’t miss.

Don’t forget to take lots of photos there for a souvenir.

The road of Bridge of the Gods

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Hike the Dry Creek Falls Trail

Cascades of Dry Creek Falls Trail

JPL Designs /

Hiking through this scenic natural area in Cascade Locks takes you to a towering waterfall.

The Dry Creek Falls Trail is a famous hiking destination in Cascade Locks that is worth visiting.

The Dry Creek Falls Trail is part of a more extensive trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, which spans from Mexico to Canada, meandering the Colombia River Gorge.

Downstream of Dry Creek Falls Trail

Thye-Wee Gn /

After you’ve conquered its 4.4-mile out-and-back nature trail within the Columbia River Gorge, you’ll see the 74-foot-high waterfall.

In addition, hiking the Dry Creek Falls will surely test your mettle.

Its trail has an 885-feet elevation gain, which is challenging enough for hikers of all levels.

Hiking the Dry Creek Falls Trail is an excellent outdoor activity for your family or travel crew.

While hiking, you’ll also see many scenic natural areas featuring Columbia River Gorge’s flora and fauna.

Sip Excellent Craft Beer at the Thunder Island Brewing Co.

Cascade Locks’ locals love to hang out and unwind, so you’ll likely come across many breweries and wineries while exploring the city.

Take a break from exploring Cascade Locks’ attractions and sip a mug of the finest beer from the Thunder Island Brewing Company.

Thunder Island Brewing is a local brewery dedicated to its city’s renown in outdoor adventure.

Founded in 2013, this local brewery in Cascade Locks has grown, serving locals and visitors top-notch craft beer.

Visit its welcoming taproom for an afternoon of quality leisure time with your loved ones or travel buddies.

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Cascade Locks Marine Park

The grounds of Cascade Locks Marine Park

tusharkoley /

For a quality outdoor activity in Cascade Locks, head to the Cascade Locks Marine Park.

This famous outdoor destination in Cascade Locks is a premier camping, fishing, picnicking, fishing, and sailing area in the city.

The Cascade Locks Marine Park is the best place to set up your camp and enjoy the breathtaking view of the city’s natural scenery, especially the Columbia River Gorge.

The waters of Cascade Locks Marine Park

tusharkoley /

This marine park has a top-notch children’s playground, camping grounds, boat ramps, marina, open lawns, and picnic areas.

At the same time, Cascade Locks Marine Park is a stone’s throw away from the city’s famous attractions, making your stay or visit there extra convenient.

Visit the Bonneville Dam

Daytime view of Bonneville Dam

JBC Geomatics /

Many people frequently visit the Bonneville Dam west of Cascade Locks for its exciting outdoor activities.

Bonneville Dam serves as a scenic outdoor destination in Hood River County.

Its massive wall of concrete cuts through the Columbia River Gorge.

This place is famous for its outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing at the Robins and Bradford Islands.

These small islands connect the entire Bonneville Dam.

Water spills through Bonneville Dam

steve estvanik /

Still, they’re more famous as outdoor destinations for locals and visitors to Columbia River Gorge.

Exploring these islands provides visitors a 360-degree view of the Columbia River Gorge through one of its observation decks.

Likewise, you can enjoy hiking, boating, and picnicking at Bonneville Dam.

At the same time, you’ll come across local wildlife roaming the area while many visitors cast their lines beside the dam to catch some fish.

Bonneville Dam abounds in steelhead, coho, and sockeye salmon, which swim upstream during fall.

Water spilling through Bonneville Dam

steve estvanik /

Take Another Hike at the Wahclella Falls

Scenic view of Wahclella Falls

Ethan Daniels /

You’re likely to find yourself hiking through Cascade Locks’s picturesque trails.

So, you’ll need to pack your hiking gear and boots when visiting Cascade Locks.

It has many trails to explore, taking you through various natural areas.

Close view of Wahclella Falls

Wasim Muklashy /

One of them is the Wachclella Falls‘ 3.1-kilometer trail, which is an easy route, perfect for beginners.

Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts will have fun hiking through Wachclella Falls’ trails because of its abundance of local wildlife such as birds and small mammals.

At the same time, you’ll also see two beautiful waterfalls upon reaching the end of the Wachclella Falls’ trail.

Downstream of Wahclella Falls

Bob Pool /

Step inside the Cascade Locks Historical Museum

Exterior of Cascade Locks Historical Museum

Steven Pavlov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A visit to the Cascade Locks Historical Museum is a fascinating experience, exploring the area’s rich past.

This local museum in Cascade Locks Marine Park sits inside a 1905 house.

It opened in 1969 and remains a relevant place in history to this day.

The museum features Cascade Locks’ historical artifacts, documents, photographs, artworks, and memorabilia from its past residents.

A few of the must-see historical artifacts inside the Cascade Locks Historical Museum are the River Locks, Columbia Gorge Native American History exhibit, and the Oregon Pony Locomotive.

The Oregon Pony steam locomotive is the most distinctive attraction in this museum, dating to the mid-1800s.

Get up close and take photos of this fantastic machine which transported products and passengers back in the day.

See Giant Sturgeons at Bonneville Hatchery

Daytime view of Bonneville Hatchery

Tada Images /

The Bonneville Hatchery adjacent to the Bonneville Dam is a must-visit place near Cascade Locks for its main attraction: the giant sturgeons.

Meet and greet the hatchery’s “Herman the Sturgeon,” a 400-pound, 60-year-old sturgeon that all guests love.

The Bonneville Hatchery has a dedicated sturgeon center that aims to improve the reproduction and repopulation of this magnificent fish in the region’s waterways.

Rainbow trout in Bonneville Hatchery

Danita Delimont /

In addition, the Bonneville Hatchery has numerous exhibits featuring other fish species, making your visit there worthwhile.

Aside from sturgeons, you’ll also see trouts, salmon, and catfish bred for repopulation.

Moreover, the Bonneville Hatchery is like a mini zoo, featuring other animals like birds of prey, wading birds, songbirds, and waterfowl.

Fish on the waters of Bonneville Hatchery

steve estvanik /

Play at the Locks Approach Disc Golf Course

Head to the Locks Approach Disc Golf Course for a relaxing but fun activity while in Cascade Locks.

Locks Approach Disc Golf Course features 18-holes, enough for a fun-filled morning activity.

On top of that, the Locks Approach Disc Golf Course in Cascade Locks offers free admission.

You’ll have more reasons to try this unique sport while enjoying the idyllic view of the gorge.

This disc golf course is a popular place for locals to play this emerging sport, using the same mechanics as a conventional golf course.

However, you’ll need a frisbee instead of the club and golf ball to play.

Take Gorgeous Photos at the Scenic Government Cove

Scenic view of Government Cove

Corrie Mick /

Go northeast of Cascade Locks to reach the scenic Government Cove.

The Columbia River Gorge surrounds this natural area, famous for visitors taking gorgeous photos of its natural scenery.

Government Cove features breathtaking views of the river, the craggy cliff sides, and rolling hills, making it an excellent location for photoshoots.

Mossy cliff of Government Cove

Corrie Mick /

Likewise, you can enjoy hiking, biking, and fishing are popular activities at the Government Cove.

For more outdoor adventure in Cascade Locks, the Government Cove is an excellent location that’s not too far from the city.

The view from Government Cove

Corrie Mick /

Complete Your Hiking Experience at the Herman Creek Trailhead

If you have extra energy for one last hiking trip in Cascade Locks, head to the Herman Creek Trailhead.

The Herman Creek Trailhead is an excellent location for hiking in Cascade Locks that you must not miss.

This short hiking trail is famous for its massive basalt cliffs, which offer dramatic scenery while traversing the path.

In addition, you can also see several eroded remnants of the thick forest nearby, along with scenic vistas and waterfalls.

Sip a Glass of Fine Wine at the Landmass Wines

Reward yourself with a glass of wine at the Landmass Wines for completing your Cascade Locks travel adventure.

Landmass Wines is renowned for its top-notch sparkling, rose, and white wines from fruits harvested in Roge Valley and Underwood Mountain.

This winery in Cascade Locks produces over 1,800 cases of wine annually, with distribution throughout Oregon and Washington State.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or an average tourist, you deserve to open a bottle of wine at this charming winery in Cascade Locks.

Experience the Pacific Crest Trail

Signage of Pacific Crest Trail

EWY Media /

The Pacific Crest Trail is one of the greatest natural attractions in Oregon, and you can access bits of it through Cascade Locks.

In fact, the Pacific Crest Trail is where the Sierra mountain ranges meet with the Cascade mountain ranges—it’s truly breathtaking to see.

Cascade Locks acts as the Pacific Crest Trail’s lowest point, and from there you can do all sorts of amazing outdoor activities.

Some of the most notable ones are hiking, going on horseback, and doing wildlife photography along the way.

You can access the trailhead in Cascade Locks via Dry Creek Road that’s just a few minutes away from Bridge of the Gods.

Splurge on Seafood Delights at Brigham Fish Market

Brigham Fish Market is a rustic restaurant that specializes in a lot of seafood American favorites.

They’ve got a great selection here highlighted by their fish n’ chips, clam chowder, smoked salmon, and the deep fried Cajun sturgeon that’s locally sourced.

Brigham Fish Market has a great ambiance as well, their outdoor seating overlooks the Columbia River and gives you sweeping views of the mountain ranges.

With a scenic spot and amazing food, this is a can’t-miss for the seafood lovers.

Find Brigham Fish Market along Wa Na Pa Street.

Grab a Snack at Eastwind Drive In

People at Eastwind Drive In

Kingofthedead, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Eastwind Drive In is just walking distance from Brigham Fish Market and it offers a much different experience.

A retro drive in diner, Eastwind Drive In is a straightforward place to get your typical diner food at the comfort of your own car.

They have the typical burgers, fries, and wraps here, but they’re more famous for their softserve and shakes.

A great combo to try is their bacon cheeseburger and their chocolate ice cream cone.

Because of its business model and location, Eastwind Drive In is a perfect stopover to recharge or begin your day before hiking at the many areas in Cascade Locks.

Go Kiting at Kite Launch Beach

Whether you love kiting, windsurfing, or even just swimming, Kite Launch Beach is a great addition to your itinerary.

It’s situated right at the tip of Cascade Locks facing the Columbia River, giving you access to all sorts of riverfront activities.

The winds here are strong which is why it got classified as a kite launch area, but you can also do other activities such as wildlife observation and trekking.

The place has a rustic charm to it, so it’s a perfect way to explore on foot or on bike, especially since it’s a few miles from Blackberry Beach which is another riverfront attraction.

To access Kite Launch Beach, drive through the end of Industrial Park Way.

Spend an Afternoon at Thirsty Coffee Bar

Another culinary favorite along Wa Na Pa Street is Thirsty Coffee Bar.

Famous for its pastries, coffee, and general vibe, this is a great place to be during a laid-back afternoon as you await the scenic sunset.

Thirsty Coffee Bar also offers gluten-free and vegan pastries on top of its usual ones, so there’s something for everyone here.

One great thing about this place is you can simply walk up to the window and order a drink if you’re in a rush, or you can dine indoors and experience their chic aesthetic.

Overall, Thirsty Coffee Bar is a must-visit for coffee lovers and vegans.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Browse the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum

This charming museum is in Stevenson, Washington, six minutes across Cascade Locks.

The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum is a fascinating place to explore, especially for those curious about the area’s rich history.

The museum features exhibits, galleries, and artifacts that detail the natural history and human stories of the Columbia River Gorge.

Currently, the Skamania County Historical Society manages the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum.

It collects and preserves all relevant historical artifacts and memorabilia from locals.

Check out the famous time prints of the millennia and wall carvings found on Columbia Gorge dating back thousands of years.

Final Thoughts

Consider visiting Cascade Locks if you’re looking for a memorable outdoor adventure.

You won’t regret exploring this unassuming city’s attractions because of its unspoiled natural beauty and fascinating backstories.

Cascade Locks is an excellent weekend destination for those coming in from Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle.

No matter where you come from, though, Cascade Locks is still a top-notch destination.

Book your trip today!

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