Maryhill, WA, “the place where the sun of the east meets the rain of the west” (Samuel Maryhill, 1907) is 2.8 square miles of land along the Columbia River Gorge approximately 100 miles east of Vancouver, WA. Residing just east of the cascade mountain range, the dry landscape resembles more of a golden moonscape than its lush green neighbors just 20 miles west. Across the river are panoramic views of the Central Oregon Plateau that seem to stretch out endlessly. In addition to the golden landscape and views of central Oregon, Maryhill and the surrounding areas have some fun places to visit.
The Maryhill Museum
The Maryhill Museum is a “three-story European, beaux-arts style concrete mansion” situated high above the Columbia River offering picture perfect views of the surrounding gorge. The architecture alone is worth the visit, and with their newly opened, $10 million dollar Mary & Bruce Stevenson wing and 26 acres to explore, there is much to see.
The museum’s permanent exhibits include works from masters like Auguste Rodin to unique and beautiful collections such as the international chess sets displaying 100 or more sculpted chess pieces from various time periods and cultures.
The Maryhill Loops Road
The Maryhill Loops Road, just a short drive from the museum, is the first macadam asphalt-paved road in the Pacific NW. It climbs 850 feet at a 5% grade with 17 curves and 8 hairpins. Now closed to motor vehicles most days, visitors can walk or bike the road daily from 7am – 5pm.
Three miles east of Maryhill Museum, a full sized replica of Stonehendge towers over the Columbia River and gorge. Built in 1918 as war memorial, the monument offers a unique vista at, or just before, sunset when the sun is blazing through the eastern facing stone archways. While it was constructed as closely as possible to the original in size and design, a few differences do exist. The original, on Salisbury Plain, England, is aligned to the midsummer sunrise while the Maryhill replica is aligned to the astronomical horizon (three degrees off). In addition, the surrounding hills obscure the actual horizon and there is a five degree difference in latitude from the original location. In short, don’t expect to use this version as an astronomical calendar, but the view is probably better. See a video of it.
About 14 miles east of Maryhill, in Lyle, WA tucked away in the hills is Domaine Pouillon, a gem of a vineyard and worth a visit to their tasting room. On our stop we tasted four wines (Gewürztraminer, Deux, Katydid, Pierre) and were impressed with all four. After several wine tasting tours this year in both the Columbia River and Willamette Valleys, I thought Domain Pouillon’s were some of the best I’ve tasted.