Travel + Leisure (USA)
OREGON ON LOCK
For a true taste of the Pacific Northwest, Naomi Tomky heads to the Columbia River town of Cascade Locks.
ONE OF THE first things you see driving along Wa Na Pa Street into Cascade Locks, Oregon, is a row of locals standing along the road, all with big coolers at their sides. Hand-painted signs advertise smoked sturgeon, salmon, and cherries for sale. If you can’t stop in time, rest assured—there are more vendors just a few minutes away under the Bridge of the Gods, nearly 2,000 feet of white steel that spans the Columbia River to Washington State. What those signs don’t tell you is that the region’s crystal-clear streams and bountiful orchards yield some of the tastiest fish and produce in the country. Much of each day’s catch is sourced from Cascade Locks Marine Park (portof cascadelocks.org). There, crowds gather to watch fishermen from the Umatilla Reservation cast their nets using the same methods as their ancestors. The family-run Brigham Fish Market (brigham fish.com) sells steelhead trout and prepares hot meals like fish-and-chips and chowder, as well as smoked fish that makes a great snack for hikers tackling the local trails. Just a few yards from the Oregon end of the bridge, a slew of paths crisscross the sweeping Columbia River Gorge, many leading to the secluded waterfalls that line the canyon. Across the river in Washington, Carson Hot Springs (carsonhotspringswashington.com) offers supposedly healing—but certainly relaxing—soaks in a 1930s bathhouse fed by a natural mineral spring. Although Cascade Locks is less than an hour’s drive east of Portland, spending the night there feels like a full immersion into Oregon’s natural beauty. There are a few B&Bs that dot either side of the river, including the Artbliss Hotel (art blisshotel.com; doubles from $275), a collection of cottages in Stevenson, on the Washington side, some with private back patios and others with views of the Columbia. Before turning in, grab a drink in Cascade Locks at Gorges Beer Co. (gorgesbeer.com), which opened a three-story flagship taproom in 2021 that has stunning mountain views from its rooftop deck. The brews have names like Stout of the Gods and Oneonta Falls Hazy IPA, paying homage to the trails nearby. For a burger craving, head across the street from the taproom to Eastwind Drive-In (395 Wa Na Pa St.; entrées $4–$11), a stand that has been serving crispy french fries and colorful, foot-tall ice cream cones to the locals for more than eight decades.