Nestled throughout the Columbia River Gorge, these small towns offer everything from outdoor recreation to quirky sightseeing.
Get to know some of the small cities and towns in each region, from hamlets of 100 to those with up to around 10,000 residents. These destinations offer visitors a more laid-back alternative to bustling cities. Read on to find out why these small towns are worth exploring.
Small Towns in Washington’s Gorge Region
This riverfront town in the heart of the Gorge Region is a perfect base for outdoor exploration. Drop by the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum to trace the history of the region and its First Peoples, or head out to hike Dog Mountain, a popular trail that offers a birds-eye view of the Columbia River and Mount Hood. Note that in the spring, a permit is required for each person hiking the trails on Augspurger or Dog Mountain on weekends and Memorial Day.
At Skamania Lodge, try your hand at axe throwing or get up close to nature during a zipline tour (reservations required). After a day of adventure, dig into Stevenson’s local dining and craft beverage scene, where visitors can find everything from wine to beer.
Bingen & White Salmon
Located only a few miles apart along Highway 14, Bingen and White Salmon both provide easy access to the Columbia River Gorge and Gifford Pinchot National Forest, making them a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Rafters can charge through the White Salmon River’s rapids, windsurfers and parasailers can catch a breeze, and hikers have plenty of trails to explore.
In town, antique shoppers should stop by Antiques & Oddities in Bingen in search of treasures. From mid-June through September, head to the White Salmon Farmers’ Market in the beautiful Rhinegarten Park. The market features live music and a variety of local food and fresh produce. Enjoy nearby wine tasting options as well as great local dining.
Situated on a plateau 13 miles north of the Columbia River, Goldendale was once a watering hole for Oregon Trail pioneers. Today, turkey and deer hunters survey the public lands along the Klickitat River, and fishermen cast their lines for king, coho, steelhead, and rainbow trout. Goldendale Observatory State Park, with one of the nation’s largest public telescopes, is a must for stargazers.
No need to do a double take. Tiny Maryhill — fewer than 100 Washingtonians call this place home — does indeed sport a life-size replica of Stonehenge at the Maryhill Museum of Art. Fashioned after the original Neolithic monument, the modern-day version is made from concrete, wood, and crumpled tin and was dedicated in 1918 as a World War I memorial. You can also make the about 30-minute drive to Columbia Hills Historical State Park, home to a serene lake, rock climbing, and a significant group of Native American pictographs and petroglyphs.
From 1976 to 1978, the entire town of North Bonneville — 400 residents at the time — relocated to make way for a new powerhouse. Today, this community is a popular stop on Highway 14 for windsurfing on the Columbia River and an abundance of hikes. North Bonneville is also conveniently located next to the Bonneville Lock & Dam, where two visitor centers offer travelers the chance to learn more about this historic dam.