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Columbia Gorge Hotel: A Historic Landmark with Stunning Views

Discover the history and beauty of the Columbia Gorge Hotel, a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique lodging and sightseeing experience in the Pacific Northwest.

History Of The Columbia Gorge Hotel

Early Beginnings

The Columbia Gorge Hotel is a historic hotel located in Hood River County, Oregon. It was built in 1921 by Portland businessman Simon Benson as a destination resort for tourists visiting the Columbia River Gorge. However, the history of this iconic landmark dates back to the early 1900s.

In 1904, a small hotel called the “Waucoma” was built on the site where the Columbia Gorge Hotel now stands. The Waucoma was a popular destination for tourists who came to admire the stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. Unfortunately, the hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1912, leaving only the stone retaining wall that can still be seen today.

After the fire, the property remained vacant for several years until Simon Benson purchased it in 1919. Benson was a prominent businessman and philanthropist who had made his fortune in the timber industry. He saw the potential of the site and decided to build a new hotel that would rival the best in the world.

Benson hired architect Albert E. Doyle to design the new hotel. Doyle was a well-known architect who had designed many notable buildings in Portland, including the Multnomah County Library and the Meier & Frank Building. Together, Benson and Doyle created a vision for a grand hotel that would reflect the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.

The Golden Age

The Columbia Gorge Hotel is a historic landmark located in Hood River, Oregon. The hotel was built in 1921 during the “Golden Age” of American architecture and design. During this period, grand hotels were constructed across the country, each with their unique style and charm.

The Columbia Gorge Hotel was no exception, and it quickly became one of the most popular destinations in the Pacific Northwest. The hotel’s stunning location on a cliff overlooking the Columbia River, combined with its luxurious amenities, made it a favorite among wealthy travelers and Hollywood celebrities.

During its heyday, the Columbia Gorge Hotel hosted many notable guests, including Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, as well as actors such as Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino. The hotel’s ballroom was also a popular spot for dancing, with live music provided by some of the best bands of the era.

Notable Guests Year Visited
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1934
Calvin Coolidge 1927
Clara Bow 1925
Rudolph Valentino 1926

The hotel’s popularity began to decline in the 1950s, and it eventually closed its doors in 1958. For several decades, the building sat empty and fell into disrepair. However, in the 1980s, a group of investors purchased the property and began an extensive renovation project to restore the hotel to its former glory.

Today, the Columbia Gorge Hotel is once again a popular destination for travelers from around the world. Visitors can enjoy the hotel’s stunning architecture and design, as well as its beautiful gardens and scenic views of the Columbia River Gorge.

To learn more about the history of the Columbia Gorge Hotel, visit

Restoration And Preservation

Restoration and preservation of the Columbia Gorge Hotel began in the early 1990s after it fell into disrepair and closed its doors in 1991. A group of investors purchased the property and invested millions of dollars to restore the hotel to its former glory.

The restoration process was a massive undertaking, and every effort was made to maintain the hotel’s historic charm while updating the amenities to modern standards. The exterior of the building was restored to its original appearance, including the iconic bell tower that had been removed in the 1960s. Inside, the lobby and public areas were refurbished with new furnishings and fixtures that matched the hotel’s original style.

The guest rooms were also completely renovated with new plumbing, electrical, and heating systems. The original clawfoot tubs were refurbished, and new tile and fixtures were installed in the bathrooms. The rooms were decorated with period-appropriate furnishings, and many of them feature stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge.

The hotel’s gardens were also restored to their former beauty, with new plantings and landscaping that reflect the original design. The waterfall that flows through the property was repaired and enhanced, and a new walking path was added to allow guests to explore the grounds more easily.

The restoration and preservation efforts at the Columbia Gorge Hotel have been widely acclaimed, and the hotel has received numerous awards for its historic preservation and sustainability practices. Today, the hotel stands as a testament to the beauty and grandeur of a bygone era, and continues to welcome guests from around the world who come to experience its unique blend of history and luxury.

Accommodations And Amenities

Rooms And Suites

The Columbia Gorge Hotel offers a variety of rooms and suites to cater to the diverse needs of guests. Each room is designed with elegance and comfort in mind, featuring comfortable beds, high-quality linens, and modern amenities.

The hotel has 40 guest rooms, each uniquely decorated with antique furnishings, artwork, and luxurious fabrics. The rooms are available in different sizes and configurations, including standard king or queen rooms, deluxe king or queen rooms, and suites.

The standard rooms are perfect for solo travelers or couples looking for an intimate setting. The deluxe rooms offer more space and additional amenities such as a fireplace or balcony. The suites are ideal for families or groups of friends, with separate living areas and multiple bedrooms.

Guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge from their rooms, with some rooms offering private balconies or patios. All rooms come equipped with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, coffee makers, and mini-fridges. The bathrooms feature luxurious toiletries, plush towels, and bathrobes.

Room Type Features Price Range
Standard King/Queen Room Antique Furnishings, Flat-Screen TV, Free Wi-Fi, Coffee Maker, Mini-Fridge $200-$300 per night
Deluxe King/Queen Room Fireplace or Balcony, Antique Furnishings, Flat-Screen TV, Free Wi-Fi, Coffee Maker, Mini-Fridge $300-$400 per night
Suite Separate Living Area, Multiple Bedrooms, Antique Furnishings, Flat-Screen TV, Free Wi-Fi, Coffee Maker, Mini-Fridge $500-$600 per night

The Columbia Gorge Hotel also offers rare and unique accommodations for those looking for an unforgettable experience. The Bridal Suite, located in the historic 1921 wing of the hotel, features a four-poster king bed, a fireplace, a whirlpool tub, and a private balcony with stunning views of the gorge.

Rare Accommodations Description Auction Price (if applicable)
Bridal Suite Four-Poster King Bed, Fireplace, Whirlpool Tub, Private Balcony with Gorge Views $1000-$2000 per night (depending on season)

Dining Options

The Columbia Gorge Hotel offers a variety of dining options to cater for different tastes and preferences. Guests can choose between the award-winning Simon’s Cliffhouse Restaurant, Valentino Lounge, or the outdoor Terrace.

Simon’s Cliffhouse Restaurant is a fine-dining experience that offers a seasonal menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant has won several awards for its exceptional cuisine and wine selection.

The Valentino Lounge is a cozy spot where guests can enjoy cocktails, beer, and wine while taking in the breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge. The lounge also serves light bites, such as charcuterie boards and artisanal cheese plates.

The Terrace is an outdoor dining option that provides stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. The menu features casual fare, including burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Guests can also enjoy a drink from the full bar while taking in the scenic surroundings.

The hotel also offers room service for guests who prefer to dine in the comfort of their rooms. Room service is available during regular restaurant hours.

Note: For more information on Simon’s Cliffhouse Restaurant, visit

Spa Services

The Columbia Gorge Hotel offers a range of spa services to help guests unwind and relax during their stay. The hotel’s spa is located on the lower level of the hotel, offering a tranquil and serene environment for guests to escape to.

Some of the spa services offered at the Columbia Gorge Hotel include massages, facials, body treatments, and nail care. Guests can choose from a variety of massage styles, such as Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, and aromatherapy. Facials are customized to each guest’s individual needs and may include cleansing, exfoliation, and hydration. Body treatments range from body wraps to salt scrubs, and aim to rejuvenate and refresh the skin. Nail care services include manicures and pedicures, with options for both traditional and gel polish.

The Columbia Gorge Hotel also offers packages that combine multiple spa services for a complete relaxation experience. For example, guests can book a “Relaxation Package” which includes a 60-minute massage, a 30-minute facial, and a 30-minute foot soak. The hotel’s spa staff are trained professionals who use high-quality products to ensure each guest receives the best possible treatment.

For more information on the Columbia Gorge Hotel’s spa services, guests can visit

Meeting And Event Spaces

The Columbia Gorge Hotel offers beautiful and versatile meeting and event spaces that are perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re planning a corporate conference, a wedding reception, or a family reunion, the hotel has a variety of options to suit your needs.

One of the most popular event spaces at the hotel is the Cascade Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 250 guests. The ballroom features stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge and is equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, making it ideal for presentations and speeches. The adjacent outdoor terrace provides a picturesque setting for cocktail receptions and other outdoor events.

In addition to the Cascade Ballroom, the hotel also offers several smaller meeting rooms that are perfect for more intimate gatherings. The Hood River Room, for example, can accommodate up to 50 guests and features large windows that provide plenty of natural light and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

For those looking for a truly unique experience, the hotel also offers the option to rent out the entire property for private events. This includes all guest rooms, meeting spaces, and amenities, ensuring complete privacy and exclusivity for your event.

When it comes to planning your event at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, their experienced event staff is on hand to help with every detail. From catering and menu planning to audiovisual setup and decor, they will work closely with you to ensure that your event is a success.

To learn more about the meeting and event spaces available at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, visit their website at

Things To Do And See Nearby

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a breathtakingly beautiful 80-mile canyon that stretches from the eastern edge of Portland, Oregon to the border with Washington state. The area is home to numerous waterfalls, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

One of the most popular activities in the Columbia River Gorge is hiking. There are numerous trails throughout the area that range in difficulty from easy to challenging. Some of the most popular hikes include the Multnomah Falls Trail, which leads to one of the tallest waterfalls in the country, and the Eagle Creek Trail, which offers stunning views of the gorge.

In addition to hiking, visitors to the Columbia River Gorge can also enjoy a variety of other outdoor activities, such as fishing, kayaking, and windsurfing. The area is known for its strong winds, which make it an ideal location for windsurfing and kiteboarding.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed way to enjoy the scenery, consider taking a drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway. This scenic route offers stunning views of the gorge and takes you past several of the area’s most popular waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

For those interested in learning more about the history and geology of the area, there are several visitor centers located throughout the scenic area. One of the most popular is the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum, which features exhibits on the region’s natural and cultural history.


Multnomah Falls

The Columbia Gorge Hotel is located near several popular attractions, including the famous Multnomah Falls. This breathtaking waterfall is the tallest in Oregon and one of the most visited natural attractions in the state. It stands at 611 feet tall and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Visitors can take a short hike to the Benson Bridge, which spans the lower part of the falls and provides an up-close view of the cascading water. The hike is relatively easy and takes about 15 minutes each way. For those who want a more challenging hike, there are several trails that lead to the top of the falls, offering panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge.

In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy picnicking, fishing, and wildlife watching in the area around Multnomah Falls. There is also a visitor center on site, where guests can learn more about the history and geology of the falls, as well as pick up souvenirs and snacks.

To plan your visit to Multnomah Falls, be sure to check the website for current hours and information. Parking can be limited during peak season, so arrive early or consider taking public transportation.

Fact Details
Height 611 feet (186 meters)
Location Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Hiking Trails Benson Bridge Trail, Larch Mountain Trail, Wahkeena Falls Trail
Visitor Center Offers information, souvenirs, and snacks

If you’re interested in purchasing rare items related to Multnomah Falls, keep an eye out for auctions featuring vintage postcards, photographs, and other memorabilia. These items can sell for high prices among collectors and history enthusiasts.

For more information on Multnomah Falls and other nearby attractions, check out the official website of the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association:

Hood River Valley

Hood River Valley is a great place to visit while staying at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Located just a short drive away, the valley boasts beautiful scenery and a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.

One popular activity in Hood River Valley is fruit picking. The area is known for its orchards, which produce a variety of fruits including apples, pears, cherries, and peaches. Visitors can pick their own fruit or purchase pre-picked fruit from local stands and markets.

In addition to fruit picking, Hood River Valley is also a great destination for wine lovers. The area is home to several wineries that offer tastings and tours. Some popular wineries in the area include Mt. Hood Winery, Cathedral Ridge Winery, and Naked Winery.

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Hood River Valley has plenty to offer. The area is popular for hiking, biking, and fishing. There are also several parks in the area, including Lost Lake and Panther Creek Falls, which offer scenic views and opportunities for picnicking and camping.

Activity Location Price
Fruit Picking Various Orchards in Hood River Valley $5-$10 per person (depending on fruit)
Wine Tasting Various Wineries in Hood River Valley $10-$20 per person (depending on winery)
Hiking/Biking Various Trails in Hood River Valley Free

Wineries And Breweries

The Columbia Gorge Hotel is located in a region known for its world-class wineries and breweries. There are several vineyards that offer wine tasting tours, including the Maryhill Winery, which is situated just 20 minutes away from the hotel. The winery boasts of over 50 different wines, all made from grapes grown on their estate. Visitors can take a guided tour of the winery, learn about the wine-making process, taste different wines, and even buy a bottle or two to take home.

Another popular winery in the area is the Cathedral Ridge Winery, which is situated just a short drive away from the Columbia Gorge Hotel. The winery offers an array of award-winning wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Visitors can sample the wines, enjoy a picnic on the grounds, or take a guided tour of the winery.

For beer lovers, there are several breweries in the area that offer a variety of craft beers. One such brewery is the Full Sail Brewing Company, which is located in Hood River. The brewery was founded in 1987 and has since won several awards for its beers. Visitors can take a tour of the brewery, learn about the brewing process, and sample some of the beers.

Winery/Brewery Name Location Specialty
Maryhill Winery Goldendale, WA Over 50 different wines made from estate-grown grapes
Cathedral Ridge Winery Hood River, OR Award-winning wines including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon
Full Sail Brewing Company Hood River, OR Craft beers

It’s worth noting that some of the wineries in the area produce rare and expensive wines that are sold at auctions. For instance, a bottle of Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla Valley was sold for $1,005 at an auction in 2019. Similarly, a bottle of Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley was sold for $1,250 at an auction in 2018.

Travel Tips And Recommendations

Best Time To Visit

When planning a trip to the Columbia Gorge Hotel, it is important to consider the best time to visit. The Columbia Gorge Hotel experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year, each offering unique experiences for visitors.

The summer months, from June to August, are the most popular time to visit due to the warm weather and long days. This is the ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and water sports. However, this is also the busiest time of year, so be prepared for crowds and higher prices.

Fall, from September to November, is a beautiful time to visit the Columbia Gorge Hotel, as the leaves change color and the temperatures cool down. This is a great time for scenic drives, wine tastings, and exploring local farmers markets.

Winter, from December to February, can be cold and rainy, but it also offers a unique experience for visitors. The Columbia Gorge Hotel is decorated for the holidays, and there are many winter activities such as skiing and snowshoeing in the nearby mountains.

Spring, from March to May, is another beautiful time to visit the Columbia Gorge Hotel. The wildflowers are in bloom, and the waterfalls are at their peak flow. This is a great time for hiking and exploring the outdoors.

Ultimately, the best time to visit the Columbia Gorge Hotel depends on your interests and preferences. Consider what activities you want to do and what kind of weather you prefer, and plan accordingly.

Getting There

Getting to the Columbia Gorge Hotel is an easy and enjoyable experience. Visitors can choose to drive or fly into the nearest airport.

The closest major airport is Portland International Airport, which is located about 50 miles west of the hotel. From there, visitors can rent a car or take public transportation to get to the hotel. The drive from the airport takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and it is a scenic route that showcases the natural beauty of the area.

For those who prefer to drive, the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway is a popular route that offers stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. This historic highway was built in the early 1900s and is now a National Historic Landmark. The drive takes about 45 minutes from Portland.

Visitors who are already in the Pacific Northwest can also choose to drive to the hotel. The Columbia Gorge Hotel is located off of Interstate 84, which runs from Portland to Boise, Idaho. The drive from Seattle takes about 4 hours, while the drive from Boise takes about 6 hours.

Local Weather

When planning a trip to the Columbia Gorge Hotel, it is important to take into consideration the local weather. The region experiences a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and dry with temperatures averaging around 80°F (27°C), making it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking and sightseeing.

However, visitors should also be aware that the area can experience occasional heat waves, so it is recommended to bring sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Winters in the Columbia Gorge are cold and wet, with temperatures averaging around 40°F (4°C). Rainfall is common during this time, so it is best to pack waterproof clothing and shoes.

Spring and fall offer mild temperatures with occasional rain showers, so it is recommended to bring layers of clothing to accommodate changing weather conditions.

For up-to-date information on local weather conditions, visitors can check the National Weather Service website at

What To Pack

When preparing for a trip to the Columbia Gorge Hotel, it is important to pack accordingly. The weather in this region can be unpredictable, so it is best to pack layers that can easily be added or removed as needed. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as there are many hiking trails and scenic walks to explore.

In addition to clothing and footwear, it is also recommended to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect from the sun. The hotel provides complimentary water bottles, but bringing a reusable water bottle may also be useful for longer hikes.

For those planning on using the hotel’s pool or hot tub, don’t forget to pack swimwear and a cover-up. And for those who plan on dining at the hotel’s restaurant or attending any formal events, it is recommended to bring dressier attire.

Lastly, it is always helpful to bring a small backpack or daypack to carry essentials while exploring the surrounding area. This can include snacks, a camera, binoculars, and any necessary medications.


Experience the charm and hospitality of the Columbia Gorge Hotel, where history meets luxury and breathtaking views abound. Book your stay now and create unforgettable memories in one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic destinations.

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