Five Great Attractions Within An Easy Drive Of The Dalles, Oregon

The Dalles Dam

When you visit The Dalles, Oregon you are heading to a very cool small town situated in a beautiful area. The Columbia River flows right by and there are a lot of ways to get out and enjoy the water both from the shore and out on the surface of it.

The Dalles also has a lot to offer within it too with some great museums, a fun 10 mile long trail, some unique shops, tasty places to eat, and more. One of the great parts about going to visit The Dalles though is that you are real close to some out of town attractions in all directions.

Here are five great attractions all within an easy drive of The Dalles, Oregon:

Deschutes River State Recreation Area

A wonderful place to head to for camping, theDeschutes River State Recreation Area is also great for a day trip or even a quick roadside stop for anyone wanting time in the outdoors. Some of the activities available there include hiking, rafting, fishing, kayaking, inner-tubing, horseback riding, and mountain biking. A quick hike up Atiyeh Deschutes River Trail can be a lot of fun and offers some nice views of the canyon there and even some opportunities to get your feet, or even more, wet which can feel real nice in the heat of summer. Keep your eyes open too as there are wide variety of birds and other animals to see there. A great time can be had at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area.

Maryhill Museum and Stonehenge

On the Washington side of the Columbia River there are two unique attractions worth driving to. The Maryhill Museum is located high on a bluff overlooking the river and the surrounding area. Inside this historic home turned museum is one of the nicest collections of art in the region. You’ll also be able to learn about the history of the house and what life was like during the early days of development there. You can even stroll the grounds outdoors and see impressive landscaping and more pieces of art. Near the Maryhill Museum is an interesting replica of Stonehenge that was built in 1918 as a World War I memorial to fallen soldiers. It’s pretty impressive, offers some great photography opportunities, and is definitely something you’ll remember seeing for a very long time based solely on the fact that it just seems so out of place on the sagebrush covered hillside.

Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway

Built between 1913 and 1922, the Historic Columbia River Highway was the first planned scenic roadway in the entire United States. It’s since been placed on several historic preservation lists and continues to be one of the most visited scenic byways in the country. The official route of the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway extends from The Dalles in the east to Troutdale in the west, a length of just over 75 miles. Along the way you’ll pass through several small communities, past some nice historical sites, and have the chance to see quite a few waterfalls. It really is something very special, especially to those who enjoy a good road trip.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is located on the western end of the Columbia River Gorge, opposite from The Dalles, but is well worth the drive. This waterfall is visible from the freeway, but pulling off in the parking lot and walking up to the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge is very impressive. There is a lower viewpoint that provides some great photo taking opportunities. Hike up to the bridge above though and get an amazing view up at the falls, out at the main basin the water tumbles into, and then down towards the lodge and the Columbia River beyond. The trail also continues on up to the top of the falls for those wanting a little more advanced hike.

Columbia River Dams

The dams of the Columbia River aid the people in a number of ways including everything from the shipping of agricultural crops to the production of electricity. Visiting several of these dams can be educational and interesting too. It can also be very easy when staying at The Dalles. The Dalles Dam is located right there in town, to the east are John Day Dam and McNary Dam, and to the west is Bonneville Dam. Different dams come with different things to do like fish viewing, guided tours, picnic areas, museum exhibits, and scenic viewpoints.

Spend the Night in The Dalles Area

If you’re looking for an awesome place to stay in The Dalles, check out this waterfront vacation rental located just outside of town:

Rowena Waterfront Vacation Rental

The Wildhorse Resort & Casino

Wildhorse Resort Casino

Heading down Interstate 84 from Washington into Idaho, I was looking for what might be a fun stop along the way. Then, there it was. Just five miles east of Pendleton sat the Wildhorse Resort & Casino.

I’m not a big gambler, but sometimes it’s fun to hang out in a casino and try your luck. We got a room for the night very easily and were immediately impressed by the quality of the surroundings, as well as the fact that there were three or four choices for eating out right there on the premisis.

I hit the casino floor, and I’ll be honest, I was not a big winner. I tried my hand at blackjack and poker, and came out about even. I’m not usually a fan of slot machines, but after just 45 minutes playing them, I found myself moderately ahead. I then took my meager winnings and entered a poker tournament and proceeded to lose it all. In the end though, I’d had about four hours of entertainment and was not significantly poorer for the process. In fact, it was a truly fun time.

We didn’t take advantage of the golf, movie theater, or live entertainment at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino as we were a little pressed for time. Just knowing that those kinds of options are available though makes me think that I could’ve even had a better time while there.

Another meal and a good night’s rest and I was ready to hit the road the next day. Headed down to Idaho to do some more exploring of the Pacific Northwest. Wildhorse Resort & Casino was in my rearview mirror, but the memories of a fun time will probably be more than enough to convince me to make a return trip.

If you’re heading that way, you should really give The Wildhorse Resort & Casino a try.

Let It Ride Electric Bicycles in Bend, Oregon

Bend - Let It Ride

The city of Bend, Oregon is a gorgeous little place just east of the Cascade Mountains in Eastern Oregon. Many people go there every year for all that the surrounding area has, from tall mountain peaks, to thick forests, both raging and lazy stretches of river, and more. If you find yourself in Bend though, don’t forget to take a look at the city itself. You don’t want to miss out on the special treats that are right under your feet or just down the block.

I got to experience Bend first hand in a totally unique way when I signed up to take a Electric Bike Tour through Let It Ride Electric Bicycles located right there in town. I hadn’t come to town with my own bike, so Let It Ride took care of the bike helmet and everything.

Our tour set off, included just seven of us, and we made our way easily around town. We were shown some historic buildings, parks, and other areas, all while only pedaling if we really wanted to. The electric bikes were comfortable and easy to operate. The information was top notch too. It really was a fun time.

Not only did I come away from my Let It Ride tour of Bend with some very cool information, but I also came away looking into converting my bike at home into an electric bike. This was that much fun.

If you find yourself in Bend, you should definitely check out Let It Ride Electric Bicycles. If you’re not interested in the tour, you can just rent the bikes to take out on your own time too.

The Dalles Dam

At the cross roads of Highway 197 and Interstate 84 is the Dalles Dam, just east of the beginning of the Columbia River Gorge that divides Washington and Oregon.

The Dalles Dam

The Columbia River being harnessed for hydroelectric power has been of great benefit to the Pacific Northwest. It has also come with some losses of scenic and cultural sites as well. When the Dalles Dam was completed, it backed up water and submerged Celilo Falls, an incredible series of waterfalls that was not only scenic but also culturally important to the natives who lived in the area.

The Dalles Dam is an engineering marvel too and viewing it from either side of the Columbia River can be very interesting. The Dalles Dam Visitor Center sits on the Oregon side of the structure and treats you to the history of the area, the concepts and accomplishments of hydroelectricity, and the details of the building and running of the dam itself. If you check the schedule, you can even time your visit so that you can take a guided tour of the dam’s fish passage facilities and power generation area. I took this tour of the dam and it is really an eye opener. I was raised taking day trips to the various dams in the region and thought I knew a lot about them. I picked up more than a few details I’d never known before.

You can also make use of the picnic facilities at the dam while you are there. A quick stop at the Dalles Dam can really add to the fun you have on a road trip along the border of Washington and Oregon.

Check out The Dalles Dam visitor center on your next trip through the area.