As a motorcyclist, there are several
things to keep in mind when you ride here.
The Legal Stuff
Washington and Oregon both require you
have a current endorsement on your driver's license to operate a motorcycle.
They also require you wear a helmet when you ride. In addition, Oregon requires
you carry proof of insurance specific to your motorcycle.
Being that this area lies smack dab in the
middle of the Cascades and comes with several climate types, the Gorge is always
whipping up it's own weather brew. Even in the summer a beautiful warm day can
turn into a wind guster complete with rain and hail in a short amount of time.
Always pack several layers of clothing and always bring rain gear.
There are two notorious grated bridges in
the Gorge – the Bridge of the Gods and the Hood River bridge. Keep at or below
the posted speed limit as you cross and you'll greatly reduce your chances of an
incident. If the wind is up, ride with extra caution and don't cross if you're
not comfortable doing so. My own experience has shown that Avon Tyres Azaro
Sport Touring treads are the least squirrelly on grated bridges in comparison to
other brands such as Michelin and Dunlop.
The grated bridges also carry a toll in
either direction. While small, it's a pain in the butt reaching into your pocket
for a few coins each time you cross. Plan to place a few in easier-to-reach
places like your tank bag.
The bridges at The Dalles (US-197) and
Goldendale (US-97) are paved.
Motorcycle camping isn't nearly as popular
in the Northwest as it is with our Canadian neighbors to the north. However, if
you're on a budget and don't mind sleeping in the great outdoors it's a fine
alternative to a spendy hotel or cheap motel.
But there's one thing that must be
remembered about the Gorge before laying your body down at the end of the day –
there are trains here that run 24 hours a day!
Pretty much anywhere you camp in
the Gorge you will hear trains. Bring ear plugs (I hope you're wearing them
whenever you ride already) and use them at bedtime.
The other alternative is to camp up yonder
at a myriad of campgrounds that can be accessed in both Washington and Oregon.
Areas such as the Wind River, Hood River and Trout Lake area all sport several
campgrounds each away from the roar of the trains.
There are motels in the key cities
throughout the Gorge including Stevenson, Hood River, Cascade Locks and The
Dalles. Getting into one on a weekday or non-summer weekend is never too tough.
However, in the summer the region hosts a plethora of activities and rooms go
fast, so it's best to plan ahead and make advance reservations.
Hotels and Resorts
There are several hotels and resorts in
the area if you're looking to pamper yourself when you're not in the saddle. For
a bit of historical charm, consider the Hood River Hotel in Hood River or The
Edgefield in Troutdale. For a spa sensation check out the Bonneville Hot Springs
Resort in North Bonneville, or the Carson Hot Springs Resort in Carson. If you
like Yosemite's Awahnee Hotel, check out Skamania Lodge in Stevenson for a
modern day version.
There's no shortage of good food in the
Gorge. Each major population center comes complete with its share of
inexpensive, mid-priced and expensive eateries. Restaurants come and go so it's
almost pointless to list them in a guide such as this. Consult the local Gorge
guides you can find at most gas stations and visitor centers for what's
available at the moment.
Biking & Hiking
There are quite a few places to go hiking
in the Gorge. A cable lock and some hiking shoes are the ingredients you need to
lock down your riding gear and climb a wonder such as Beacon Rock or Dog
Mountain. PacSafe makes a high-quality cable lock that's eight feet long and can
be strung through your pants, jacket and helmet to insure it's there when you
This story has been excerpted from the just released book,
The Sound RIDER! Guide to Motorcycling in the Columbia River Gorge
. To order your copy CLICK HERE.