|View from top of Horsethief Butte|
Our getaway down to the eastern Columbia River gorge was so much more than I expected. This trip made me very happy!
The Drive: We started by driving east from the Seattle area on Interstate 90 across Snoqualmie Pass past Ellensburg, south on Interstate 82 to Yakima, then south on Highway 97 to the Columbia River through Goldendale, and west on I-84 to The Dalles.
Where We Slept: We stayed at the Celilo Inn, which sits on a bluff with spectacular views of Mt. Hood, the Columbia River, and The Dalles. This inn is newly transformed from budget motel into a boutique hotel catering to the wine-touring crowd. I've never seen such a cool motel. [On October 16, Groupon offered a two-night package at the Celilo Inn! It might still be available today if it didn't sell out already.]
The view from our room was lovely, the bed was heavenly, and we enjoyed a swim on a warm fall day in their outdoor pool. In the evening, we were treated to wine and cheese on the patio as we relaxed by the fire and listened to a local musician while watching the sunset on the river.
|The recently renovated Celilo Inn in The Dalles, Oregon|
Dinner in The Dalles: We had dinner at the historic Baldwin Saloon, which originally opened in 1876. We enjoyed fresh, local halibut along with a Pheasant Valley organic Pinot Gris. Only Northwest wines are served at the Baldwin, with house pours from local wineries. For dessert we shared a generous piece of carrot cake. Just perfect.
Our Favorite Stretch of Road: After a light breakfast at Celilo Inn, we were ready to hit the road again. We crossed the Columbia River via The Dalles Bridge and then headed east on State Route 14, a wonderful road with so much to do and see along the way.
Our first stop was Columbia Hills State Park to view the petroglyphs on the Columbia River basalt along the river. This particular collection of over 40 petroglyphs and pictographs is bordered by a paved trail. While the carvings and paintings are sacred to the local Native Americans, they are open to the public.
|Petroglyph near Horsethief Butte|
And For Some Good Exercise: Horsethief Butte in the Columbia Hills State Park is just awesome. We noticed a hiking trail on the map near the butte, so decided to check it out. We started not really knowing what to expect. The trail is very short, so basically the hike is a climb or scramble over the rocks to the top of the butte.
|Yes, the view from atop Horsethief Butte is ahhhhhhh-some.|
|Rock climbers on Horsethief Butte|
I was so excited to arrive at the museum. The original mansion, the new modern addition, and the spectacular setting of the Columbia River and its banks was just so much beauty to behold. I was truly thrilled to be there and I hadn’t even stepped inside yet.
The new Mary and Bruce Stevenson Wing includes an education center, an outdoor plaza overlooking the river, a cafe and outdoor terrace, and the modern, all-glass Mt. Hood Gallery. The museum’s collection includes many sculptures and watercolors by Auguste Rodin, a large Native American collection, religious icons, a collection of chess sets from around the world, an outdoor sculpture garden, and much more.
|On the terrace, Maryhill Mary and Bruce Stevenson wing|
We had an excellent lunch at the museum’s cafe sitting outside on the terrace taking in another work of art, the Columbia River. Magnificent!
Another Must-See Stop: Maryhill Winery, on a bluff above the Columbia River and Gunkel Vineyard, is one of the oldest and most established vineyard sites in Washington. We stopped and did a little wine tasting, and since everything we sampled tasted fabulous, we ended up walking away with a few bottles to take home.
|View from Maryhill Winery|
|Stonehenge Memorial, Goldendale, Washington|
When You Go. A Washington highway map showing the areas we visited are sections 15 and 16 at this website. While this is a 3.5-hour drive from Seattle, it's less than a couple hours from Portland.