The Ultimate 48-Hour Guide to the Columbia River Gorge

It is Friday! The weekend couldn’t have come any sooner and you are on your way to the Columbia River Gorge, ready to de-stress, explore the woods, and soak in the beauty, but you don’t know where to go. Luckily for you, we’ve laid out the perfect 48 hours in The Gorge so you can spend less time planning and more time living. 

Friday Night

Bags are packed, the car is fueled up, and you are on your way when you realize you don’t know where you’re staying. You are going to want somewhere centrally located in the Gorge that allows for you to relax after a long day of explorations. There are plenty of big-box hotels, but why not stay somewhere that elevates your weekend? The Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins in Carson, Washington are the perfect homebase for a weekend of explorations. Indulge in your own private cabin, backed against the dense evergreen woods. Bringing Fido along for the trip? They have two pet-welcoming cabins that you and your pup will love. Arrive, unload the car, and unwind. Your weekend is about to get epic. 


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Wake up with natural light flooding your warm cabin and step outside for panoramic views. Take a walk around the property or head over to the dining area for your gourmet breakfast. Eggs Benedict, Lemon ricotta waffles, and fresh fruit are frequent offerings. Sit back and enjoy your breakfast with incredible nature views and a cup of fresh brewed coffee. 

Get on the Water

Now that you’re fueled up, it is time to get going. During the warmer months you can get in the water and splash around. Head to East Point Kite Beach to dip your toes in the water or soak up the sun. If you are looking for a little more adventure, hop on a paddleboard in the protected Waucoma Basin at the base of Hood River or take a kiteboarding class from Cascade Kiteboarding


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Head back to your cabins for a quick rinse off and get ready to chow down on some of the best food in The Gorge. If you are starving and want something quick and delicious, walk over to Backwoods Brewing Company across the street from Carson Ridge Cabins. You’ll find refreshing craft brews and classic pub food like soft and chewy pretzels, mouthwatering burgers, and incredible grilled sandwiches. If you are over by Cascade Locks, stop by Thunder Island Brewing  In the summer months you’ll find they have their Bar-B-Que fired up. If you’ve found yourself hovering around Hood River for the day, stop by Solstice Wood Fired Pizza for locally sourced handcrafted pizza made with farm fresh ingredients. 

Afternoon Shopping

Stroll along historic Hood River and fall in love with this outdoorsy mountain town. Historic buildings are filled with fabulous outdoor gear shops, trendy boutiques, and home decor stores. Arome is a fun little shop specializing in spices, oils & vinegars, and specialty teas. A couple small ingredients from this shop is all you need to elevate your weeknight dinner into a culinary masterpiece. Parts + Labor is a women’s boutique with fashion-forward designs that are perfect for business casual to weekend wear. Hood River Distillers has a tasting room downtown so you can sample their spirits and grab a specialty craft cocktail. 


For dinner, treat yourself to an upscale meal from one of The Gorge’s acclaimed eateries. Stonehedge Gardens in West Hood River is a rustic woodsy restaurant serving farm-to-table fare in a romantic and intimate setting. Sushi Okalani offers some of the freshest fish around and tasty unique rolls with Pan-Pacific flavors. Clark & Lewie’s in Stevenson is a waterfront eatery serving up steaks and northwest seafood. 


After the sun sets over the horizon, make your way back to your luxurious cabin and gather around the bonfire. As the cabins are nestled in a valley and separated from major towns, the stars are magnificently bright. Unwind and take in the peaceful surroundings of the property before falling asleep in your plush private cabin. 


Wake up refreshed and ready for the day. Spend some time exploring the trails around the property before sitting down for a breakfast spread that is entirely different, yet just as satisfying as the day before. 

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Take a Hike

Strap on your boots, pack a backpack with snacks and water, and head towards one of the hundreds of trailheads along the gorge. From short, gradual trails to intense mountain climbing expeditions there is a hike for everyone. If you want a short but rewarding hike, head towards Wahkeena Falls Trailhead off the Historic Columbia River Highway. You can walk the short trek to Wahkeena Falls or complete the 4.7-mile loop to see several other falls and end at Multnomah Falls before returning to the trailhead. Angels Rest is another popular hike that comes with a view. This 4.8-mile round trip hike near takes you high up to the top of Angels Rest Mountain on the Oregon side of the river to deliver panoramic views of the river and Washington mountains.

If you are an experienced hiker and looking for a challenge, take on Mount Defiance, a 12.4-mile loop that takes you deep into the wilderness and guides you through lakes, rivers, fields, and rocky terrain until you arrive at the top of Mount Defiance over 5,000 feet above where you started. Pack a picnic and eat lunch with an unparalleled view. 

Hit The Landmarks on the Way Out

Take the scenic route home. The Historic Columbia River Highway is filled with roadside stops that are perfect for pulling over and getting out to sightsee. From gigantic waterfalls to iconic bridges to historical buildings, these are the perfect after-hike stops that you can see on your way out of The Gorge. Check out our blog post Must See Roadside Stops on the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway to see where you should pull off and take in the surroundings. 

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Follow our 48-hour guide to hit all of the best aspects of the Columbia River Gorge in one epic weekend. From waterfalls to PNW-inspired breweries and eateries to scenic views throughout your trip, you’ll fall in love with The Gorge and start planning your next trip before you even leave. 

 Planning a trip to the Columbia River Gorge? Book a stay at the Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins, our upscale B&B in Carson, Washington offering romantic cabins and gorgeous mountain views to make your getaway an unforgettable experience.

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