Hood River, Oregon

Hood River, located in the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, is a lively small town with a robust recreational scene. The beauty of the surrounding environment is the biggest attraction. The gorge is lined with magnificent waterfalls, basalt cliffs rise high above the Columbia River's blue water, and Mt. Hood looms in the background.

Geography Of Hood River

Hood River, Oregon
Water sports near Hood River.

Hood River is located in the Columbia River Gorge, at the confluence of the Hood River and the Columbia River. Mount Hood, the state's tallest peak, is about 30 miles north of the city. It is located on the other side of the Columbia River from White Salmon, Washington. The Hood River Valley, situated south of the city, is noted for growing apples, pears, and cherries. As per the US Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.35 square miles, of which 2.55 square miles is land and 0.80 square miles is water.

History Of Hood River

When the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through on October 29, 1805, the area was inhabited by Native Americans. They discovered a camp location known as "Waucoma," meaning "place of large trees." The camp was near the junction of what became known as the Dog River and the Columbia River. Mrs. Nathaniel Coe, a well-known valley pioneer, later objected to the name Dog River and was successful in having it changed to Hood River. Hood River was first mentioned on a map in 1856. Hood River County, which was once a part of Wasco County, obtained formal independence on June 23, 1908, and its boundaries have remained intact to this day. Nathaniel and Mary Coe were the rightful owners of a 319-acre government land grant that was bounded on the east by Front Street, the north by the Columbia River, the west by Thirteenth Street, and the south by May Street. The Nathaniel Coe family filed a land claim on farmlands that are now part of the City of Hood River in 1854. They were quickly followed by the families of William Jenkins and Benson.

Ripe Red Bartlett Pears on the tree in a grove in Hood River, Oregon, United States.

Coe was one of the first people in the Hood River Valley to plant fruit trees. From 1890 to 1920, apple orchards prospered in this fertile valley, and Hood River became famous for its apples. A killing freeze struck many apple trees in 1919. To overcome the loss, farmers replaced the apple trees with pear trees and hence, the Hood River County now ranks first in the world for Anjou Pear production.

Climate Of Hood River

Hood River, located at the transition zone between wet temperate rainforest to the west and dry shrub-steppe desert to the east, has a moderate climate with rainy winters and warm summers, though rainfall is slightly lower than in Portland and other nearby Willamette Valley areas. Hood River generally receives 30 inches of rain per year, and the area is known for its consistently high winds that channel down the Columbia River Gorge. Temperatures are slightly cooler throughout the year than in most other low-elevation towns in the region, especially at night, due to air drainage from the surrounding mountains.

Population And Economy Of Hood River

Hood river
Hood River farms, homes, and highway.

According to the most recent US Census estimates, the current population of Hood River, Oregon, is 8,011. Hood River is expanding at a 0.88 % annual rate, and its population has grown by 10.27 % since the 2010 census, which indicated a population of 7,265. The city has an average household income of $80,742 and a poverty rate of 6.17 %. White (93.13 %), Two or more races (3.01 %), Black or African American (1.37 %), Asian (1.26 %), and Other races (1.23%) are the most common ethnic groups in Hood River. 

Hood River's economy has traditionally been based on three sectors: agriculture, tourism, and sports recreation, although high-tech businesses such as aerospace engineering have emerged as key employment since the late 1990s. Hood River, a long-time agricultural center of the Pacific Northwest, was formerly a nexus of logging exports and fruit tree orchards. While lumber was Hood River's primary export for most of its historical record, the emergence of measures to protect the forest such as the establishment of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, has shifted Hood River's agricultural focus from tree cutting to apple and pear orchards, as well as many wineries.

Attractions In And Around Hood River

Multnomah Falls

hood river multnomah falls
The famous Multnomah Falls near Hood River.

Multnomah Falls, located west of Hood River along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, is one of Oregon's most spectacular waterfalls in Oregon and one of the most attractive sites in the Hood River area. The site is easily accessible from the highway and do not require any hiking to observe. Visitors can take the trail up to the Benson Bridge and upper observation point for a breathtaking view of the falls and the Columbia Valley. The historic Multnomah Falls Lodge has a restaurant, gift store, espresso stand, and snack bar at the base of the falls.

Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway

Visitors can take a nice long drive down the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway and stop over at some of the stunning spots along the way to truly experience the grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge. This two-lane National Historic Landmark extends along 70 miles along the Columbia River from Troutdale to The Dalles, and was built between 1916 and 1923. Numerous hiking routes, as well as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, are located just off the highway for pedestrians and cyclists. Some of the sites along this stretch of the river have access to the river, allowing people to walk straight down to the water's edge and see the high banks on the opposite shore.

Vista House

The 1918 octagonal shaped Vista House and accompanying grounds, perched atop a basalt clifftop, offers spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge in both directions. This is one of the best and most approachable overlooks in the area, located along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Mount Hood

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Mount Hood in the distance.

Mount Hood, with its snowcapped peak looming large on the horizon, not only enhances the beauty of the area, but it also serves as a winter and summer playground for outdoor adventures. Depending on the level of activity desired, visitors can find a variety of activities around Mount Hood, ranging from scenic drives to multi-day hikes.

Columbia River

Hood River is one of the top sites in the United States to go kiteboarding and windsurfing. Winds howl up the Columbia River Gorge from May to September, creating ideal conditions for wind sports.

Hiking Trails

Hiking in the Hood River area provides access to a diverse range of landscapes, including hikes along the Columbia River Gorge that leads to waterfalls or high vantage sites, as well as mountain views around Mount Hood. The wildflowers bring brilliant color to the meadows in the spring, and the golden and orange leaves transform the landscape in the fall.

Fruit Loop

This 35-mile route takes visitors through rolling hills of orchards and forests, stopping in small villages to purchase locally made goods such as fruits and vegetables, jams, syrups, and crafts. The Fruit Loop, after the Historic Columbia River Highway, is one of the most popular tourist drives in the area.

Western Antique Aeroplane And Automobile Museum 

The museum houses a large variety of antique airplanes and automobiles, many of which are still in working order. For its displays, the facility has more than 3.5 acres of indoor hangar space. The majority of the planes are small craft that were originally used for recreational purposes. The museum has over 130 automobiles on display, ranging from 1900 to 1960.

Visitors to Hood River can take a train ride through the countryside, hike along the Columbia River Gorge, kiteboard or windsurf on the river, drive along a scenic route, and visit Mt. Hood in the winter for skiing and other snow sports. They can never run out of things to do in the city.

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