Regional Hub-and-Spoke Tour
On this multi-day tour, experience the breathtaking natural beauty of the region's only National Scenic Area, the Columbia River Gorge, and visit historic places such as the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. In addition, explore the awesome landscapes of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and tour the famous Pendleton Woolen Mill while making Vancouver USA your hub for the week!
Hub: Vancouver USA
Go to where it all began and take a step back in time at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site with guided tours from knowledgeable park rangers, re-enactors portraying the daily life at the Hudson’s Bay Company, and annual events including Campfires and Candlelight and Lantern Tours of the Vancouver Barracks. Next door, you'll find one of the oldest operating airfields in the United States. Pearson Air Museum features an extensive display of pre-WWII planes, a flight simulator and rotating exhibits that promise to take you back to the “Golden Age of Aviation” (for free!).
There aren’t many more picturesque places for a leisurely stroll than along Officers Row, with historical houses built in the style of Queen Anne Victorian architecture lining the road. Two must-see’s on this stretch are the Grant House, the oldest of these homes, and the General George C. Marshall House, which is open for tours.
Find mouth-watering restaurants, craft breweries, and urban wineries in downtown Vancouver—just a half mile walk from the Historic Reserve. The newly developed waterfront delights with upscale dining, unbeatable views, and a riverside paved trail.
North Spoke: Ridgefield
Just north of Vancouver, the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is home to various species of spring and fall migrating birds and year-round activity. It is also the area where the Lewis and Clark expedition stopped in November 1805 and again in March 1806. While there, they traded with the Native Americans, who resided at one of the largest Chinookan villages in the region. It also contains the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, a full scale Chinookan Plankhouse reconstructed based on archaeological evidence found at the site to commemorate the natives.
Ready for a night out of gaming, dining, and dancing? The Cowlitz Tribe’s ilani Casino Resort (right off of I-5) offers entertainment options guaranteed to impress everyone from dining denizens and gaming pros to concert-goers and craft drink enthusiasts. Check out other area wineries, like Stavalaura Vineyards, Gouger Cellars, and Windy Hills Winery, that call Ridgefield home.
East Spoke: The Columbia River Gorge
Head east toward Washougal, where you'll find the Pendleton Woolen Mill. At this world-famous destination, see first-hand the state-of-the-art dye house, the spinning, weaving, and finishing of the distinctive quality Native American blankets. Be sure to stop at the mill store, stocked with a full array of men’s and women’s clothing and the world famous blankets.
Less than 20 miles down WA-14, you'll find Beacon Rock. At the core of an extinct volcano, Beacon Rock offers a moderate hike for those looking for one of the best views of the Columbia River Gorge you can possibly find! Less than 10 more miles east, the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center features exhibits highlighting Native American life, 19th century fishing and transportation, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and also includes one of the world’s largest rosary collections.
Backtrack to the Bonneville Dam—located on the mighty Columbia River and built in 1937, this 2,690-feet long and 197-feet high dam is a sight to behold. While you’re there, make sure to explore the historical exhibits and the underwater fish viewing station, where you can see salmon and sturgeon swim upriver.
Northeast Spoke: Mount St. Helens
On May 19, 1980, the eyes of the country were on Mount St. Helens as it erupted and left us all in awe of the powerful act of nature. Now, decades later, the volcano is a must-see for all visitors who can take advantage of the various programs, exhibits, and viewpoints offered. The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, Forest Learning Center, and Johnston Ridge Observatory all offer unique views of the volcano, as well as educational exhibits.
Plus, don’t forget about all the hiking trails just waiting to be explored in the surrounding Gifford Pinchot National Forest! Exploring Ape Cave is an experience like none other, and Lava Canyon offers close-up views of the mountain with wildflowers surrounding. Head to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park to kick-off any winter activities, like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Northwest Spoke: Long Beach
Here in the Pacific Northwest, experiencing the coast in true local style means packing a fleece, lighting a bonfire, clam digging at dawn, and driving your rig along the cold surf. The Long Beach Peninsula offers beach adventures just two hours from downtown Vancouver. Go lighthouse hunting to find the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse overlooking the confluence of the mighty Columbia River and the ocean, and the North Head Lighthouse in Ilwaco.
The Long Beach city strip offers a quirky display of storefronts, including Marsh's Museum, home to famed "Jake the Alligator Man," and the World Kite Museum. While the arch entrance to the sand boasts it's "longest beach" status, you can also find the world's largest frying pan for a photo op.