Summer Fun in the Columbia River Gorge

Some friends came out to visit here in the Columbia River Gorge so we spent some time out and about to show them what summertime in the Gorge is all about. Fortunately, the weather was really nice so we were able to get out and do something every day. There is a lot to do around here, but we tried to do the stuff that was most fun!

If you know anything about the Columbia River Gorge or follow this blog, you know that it is windy much of the time. We got lucky and had a couple calm, sunny days so we packed up the SUP and kayak and headed down to the Columbia River. The weather was fantastic; sunny and hot, perfect for splashing around on the Columbia. Even on calm days, the currents in the Columbia River can be treacherous, so we headed to The Hook in Hood River, Oregon. The Hook is just west of the main event site in the Hood River waterfront area that is popular with beginner sailboarders and SUPers. There is a protected inlet that empties into the Columbia River, allowing people to ease their way into the big water. It is also a good place to launch a kayak. We started off the day launching the fishing kayak and trying for smallmouth bass along the waterfront rocks. Unfortunately, the fish were not biting. The calm winds made it an easy paddle upstream to the Hood River Bridge.

Kayaking up the Columbia River towards the Hood River Bridge

With the kayak in the water, we got the Vinaka inflatable SUP pumped up and on the water. It wasn’t long before the crew was paddling around The Hook and out into the Columbia River.

SUPing in the Columbia River Gorge

With perfect paddling conditions, getting out to Wells Island from The Hook was no problem.

SUP paddling out to Wells Island in the Columbia River

Even if it was the first time on an SUP, the conditions were perfect for learning how to get the hang of standup paddleboards.

Getting the hang of standup paddling on the Columbia River

After a long day on the water you get pretty hungry. Nothing a few burgers on the back porch won’t fix up.

Tasty burgers after a long day on the river

We had fun on the river, but we were hoping to catch a few fish so we headed east, over The Dalles Bridge into Washington and over to Horsethief Lake State Park. Usually, the fishing here is pretty good, not a lot of big fish but it’s usually good for smallmouth bass, perch and walleye in the summer, but today the fish just didn’t want to bite.

Fishing on Horsethief Lake in southwest Washington

Even though the fishing wasn’t very good, we spent another hot, sunny day playing around with the kayak and SUP.

SUP and kayaking on Horsethief Lake

After a couple days on the water, we headed out into the mountains to do a little exploring. As is usually the case, there are always a few surprises along the way!

A little problem on the Cascade Mountain backroads

We got up to one of our favorite Mt. Hood viewpoints, but as luck would have it, the mountain was mostly covered with clouds. Nina got a pretty good photo anyway.

Cloudy Mt. Hood

We got pretty far up Mt. Hood and found some “middle of the summer” snow still on the ground.

Summer snow on Mt. Hood

All the water around here comes from the melting snow up on Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. Even in the summer, there are still a few waterfalls around.

A waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge

We finally found those trophy fish we were looking for. These giant rainbow trout would make any fisherman’s day.

Trophy rainbow trout

Unfortunately for the fishermen in the group, these trout were in the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. This is a large fish hatchery that raises chinook salmon, but they have pools with large rainbow trout and really big white sturgeon where you can get a real close look at these large fish.

Bonneville Fish Hatchery

The Bonneville Hatchery is a great place to visit while you are in the Columbia River Gorge. There is lots to see and the admission and parking are free. It was a great place to wind up our little vacation in the Gorge and are looking forward to the next visit.

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