Portland to Hood River Road Trip: Waterfalls, Beer, and Camping
By Emily Butterfield
As a lifelong Pacific Northwesterner, Oregon is one of my all-time favorite places for outdoor adventure. You can explore glaciated mountains, the rugged coastline, rushing rivers, and diverse high desert. But one of my favorite areas is the short drive from Portland to Hood River, just an hour’s drive from Escape’s camper van rental location in Portland. Part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, it’s chockfull of nature, craft beer, and outdoor recreation. Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or adventure-packed vacation, you won’t get bored on this road trip. Here are some of my favorite places on my Portland to Hood River road trip.
Eat at a food cart pod
Swing into one of Portland’s food cart pods (called this because they don’t move around like food trucks) – it won’t be hard to find a cuisine that suits your taste buds. There are several “pods” around Portland, including Cartopia in SE Portland and Alder Street – close to the famous Powell’s Books. Portland is one of the most food-allergen-friendly cities so there’s something to eat for everyone.
Grab a beer at Belmont Station in Portland
Although you’re never far from craft beer anywhere in Oregon, swing into the Belmont Station for craft beer growler fills and an expansive bottle selection. They opened in 1997, long before the craft beer boom, so it’s a great stop for beer buffs.
Take a dip in the soaking pool at McMenamins Edgefield Hotel
McMenamins is a family-owned chain of bars, restaurants, and hotels in Oregon and Washington. Each property has its own unique character and typically reflects the history of the building or neighborhood. Edgefield is one of the larger properties (74 acres) and features a brewery, distillery, winery, golf course and outdoor soaking pool. It’s a convenient location for a pit stop between Portland and Hood River.
Drive (and hike) along the Historic Columbia River Highway
I was amazed at how much beauty is packed into this small area when I first visited in 2008. The Historic Columbia River Highway leads to the 611-foot-tall Multnomah Falls and dozens of other waterfalls you can see on short or long hikes. Unfortunately, this area was devastated by the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017; check for trail and road closures before you head out.
Watch the kitesurfers in Hood River
Hood River is often referred to as the windsurfing capital of the world. Head down to the Hood River Waterfront Park to watch kitesurfers young and old brave the Columbia River winds. For the more adventurous, there are numerous outfitters in town that will teach you how to surf.
Where to Camp on your Portland to Hood River road trip.
The area is loved by locals and visitors, so you’ll want to make a camping reservation if traveling on a busy summer weekend.