The Classic Columbia River Gorge Tour

Columbia River Gorge Itineraries



4 hours

Classic Standard Tour - ½ day

5-6 hours

Classic Standard Tour with ¾ day options

7-8 hours

Classic Standard Tour with full-day options

View All Custom Gorge Tour Itinerary options on 1 page

* Latourell & Multnomah Falls (viewing bridges) hikes are typically automatically included in your tour itinerary.  Wahkeena (viewing bridge) & Bridal Veil Falls hikes are often included in the itinerary, and are recommended. These are short hikes (15-30 minutes RT max.). All other hikes ('extended hikes') are an option and must be pre-arranged before your tour; otherwise they are not an option. NOTE: All hikes are self-guided hikes and are optional; including the standard hikes, where your driver/guide will not be accompanying your group. To add the Bonneville Dam, please notify us or your tour guide ahead of time; the 5-6 hour tour option may apply. You do not have to participate in any hike as views of all of the standard falls (except Bridal Veil) are all had without hiking.

A Trailhead Release Agreement form is required from your group (see below *) to hike on any optional/extended hike.  This does not apply with the standard (viewing bridge) hikes. Be prepared for inclement weather (rain, snow, cold, ice, wind etc.) during winter time tours.  Be prepared for rainy weather during summer time tours, and dress appropriately.

* ALL HIKES ARE SOLO 'SELF-SERVICE' HIKES; your driver and/or tour guide WILL NOT be accompanying your group on your hike due to Forest Service regulations. While we consider our extended hikes to be completely safe; in wilderness areas, possible wilderness dangers are always present, including Falling—Please stay on the maintained trail. A Trailhead Release Agreement form exonerating My Chauffeur of any responsibility on the trails will be required for your tour.  Hikes are not recommended for children or pets. Trails are typically not near restrooms or running water, so you should plan on carrying your own water supply. Cliff sections (if applicable) are exposed, so anyone subject to vertigo should proceed carefully, and turn back if the first set of cliffs are uncomfortable...  If you have any apprehensions about nature hiking and/or nature areas, you should not do the extended hikes. The trail surfaces are often rocky and uneven, and anything less than a good pair of hiking shoes or boots is not adequate. Also keep in mind that the Columbia Gorge is home to poison oak, and it grows along some sections of the some trails. If you're susceptible to it, keep an eye out in sunny, open cliff-tops and open oak forests. Long pants are a good idea is you're particularly sensitive.

We are here to help plan your Gorge tour, answer questions and/or make suggestions.  Give us a call at 503-969-4370 (toll-free 1-877-692-4283) or EMAIL US.  If you have already made a reservation, contact your personal concierge.

** The options of Bonneville Dam and Upper Horsetail Falls require more time than our standard stops.  Please notify your guide ahead of time to be able to accommodate this in your schedule (we will drop out other stops) unless you want to extend your tour to the 5-6 hour option.

*** Mt. Hood tour option is between 8-10 hours long.

Columbia River Gorge Tour w/Bonneville Dam

Much more than a dam awaits visitors to this historic site

Columbia River & Bonneville Dam, Oregon. 1939A 'stones throw' from Multnomah Falls, this addition is convenient to add or substitute for other stops.  See salmon & sturgeon up close and view the inner workings of this magnificent dam.

Built in the 1930s during the Great Depression, the lock & dam is the oldest of about 14 federal dams built on the Columbia River.  Enjoy watching salmon and other fish swim up the ladders; take a tour and visit the powerhouse and the navigation lock.  The historic  Bonneville Fish Hatchery is located just below the dam and has pools of sturgeon (see below) and trout.  You may view young salmon in the rearing ponds and during the fall see them process the adults.

It was a FDR New Deal project aimed at providing hydropower production, fish and wildlife protection, recreation and navigation.  Inside the visitors center you may view the fish ladder, where fish return from the ocean to their birthplace to spawn. You may take a guided tour through the powerhouse, and watch the turbines at work.  We will also visit the neighboring historic  sturgeon pond & viewing center (see below). And if we see a tugboat or barge coming, we can hurry to the shipping canal to see them locked through to the upper level of the river.

The Dam spans the Columbia River and links the two states. From interpretive hiking trails, day-use picnic areas, hatchery and powerhouse tours, a full-fledged educational visitor's center and underwater fish-viewing windows, views of Table Mountain and wildlife viewing, a visit to Bonneville Dam will not disappoint.

You may combine this stop with a Wahclella Falls hike, if desired.

File:Kaplan turbine bonneville.jpg

Take a guided tour through the visitor's center & powerhouse, and watch the turbines at work. The Washington Shore Facility offers something extra special. You can walk on top of an operating generator and look inside the spinning shaft. 



White Sturgeon in the Viewing Center
- Photo by Kathy Munsel-

The facility features a fascinating array of historical exhibits, 2 educational theaters, the tour of the powerhouse, fish ladders and views of the spillway!  Picnic areas abound, even for groups of up to 100.  There are visitors' centers on both the Oregon and Washington sides of the dam, and we typically visit the Bradford Island Center on the Oregon side (see map below right).

The First Powerhouse Tour provides a view of the generators. If you are specifically interested in the production of electricity, you should consider visiting the Second Powerhouse on the Washington shore, where visitor areas have been created to allow you to safely walk on top of a running generator.

The fish hatchery and dam are open year-round from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is best to visit the dam in the months of April through September when the salmon are more abundant, but you can view fish at any time of the year.  During the fall, when the Chinook run is at its peak, thousands of these massive fish pass up the dam every day.  A highlight is where the underwater fish viewing windows give visitors a mesmerizing look inside the fish ladder.  Current fish count

We also can see the spectacular historic fish hatchery, sturgeon pond & sturgeon viewing center (view video).  The hatchery highlights include the Hatchery Operations Building where salmon are processed; rearing ponds for young salmon; and ponds where live sturgeon and trout may be viewed and fed. For hatchery tours call 541-374-8393. You'll see Herman the Sturgeon, the 11 foot long, 500 lb., 70 year old resident lurking among his huge pre-historic relatives in the Sturgeon pond. Sturgeon are 'dinosaurs with fins', the oldest fish on the planet, about 200 million years old.  The Columbia River has the largest population of white sturgeon on the planet, about 1,000,000 below Bonneville Dam.  Hatchery and dam are open year-round from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Sternwheeler Cruises.

During summer months, the Sternwheeler, operated by the Port of Cascade Locks may be boarded at the dock near the Bradford Island Visitor Center parking lot. For schedules and reservations contact the Port of Cascade Locks, Oregon at 541-374-8619

* Because of security concerns, visitors may be required to show ID, and it is not possible to cross the entire dam. During most of the year, more fish use the Washington shore fish ladders, so fish viewing may be better on the Washington side of the dam.  Guided powerhouse walks (free; 45 minutes) on the Oregon side are scheduled hourly or bi-hourly from 10-4 daily and on the Washington side they are scheduled at 10:30, 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. every day. Call 541-374-8820 on the morning of your tour to check on tour availability or schedule a private tour for large groups. Self-guided tours of the facilities (9-5pm) are available anytime.   For security reasons: Backpacks & purses are not allowed on the Powerhouse tour.  In addition, a COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF ALL ATTENDEES ON THE POWERHOUSE TOUR IS REQUIRED.  Give the list to your Bonneville Dam guide when you arrive at the Dam visitor center.

Bonneville Dam website

top photo courtesy of:

* Wikipedia GNU Free Documentation License applies.

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