Steamboat dock in Stevenson, WA
If you haven’t been to the waterfront steamboat dock in Stevenson, WA, you are missing out on one of the true hidden gems in the Columbia River Gorge. Between 1850 and 1920, the height of steamboat use, Stevenson was a vital stop for more wood to power these ships. Today it is a quiet dock jutting out into the Columbia River allowing visitors a unique view of the gorge without getting wet or needing a boat.
The area from Stevenson east towards Hood River is often referred to as the windsurfing capital of the country, and the moment you step out onto this dock you’ll understand why. (Warning – hold onto your hats!) Expect a blast of wind as you leave the protected shoreline and head up the dock where you might even delight in seeing windsurfers and kite surfers dotting both sides of the river riding the high winds and often throwing in a cool trick or two. The day I went (9/15/2012) the winds were fierce and kite and windsurfers crowed the area.
One kite surfer took great pleasure in entertaining viewers on the dock. For about 30 minutes he zoomed in close to the dock only to leap from the water, dancing and flipping in the air, before landing back in the water and often posing mid air for photos.
Even the rare calm day, or a day when you don’t encounter daring kite surfers, the views from the the dock are stunning, particularly at sunset. It gives an air of being in Austria or Switzerland. It’s a real hidden gem that I have yet to see written about in the tourist books.
There are two nice options to grab a bite or quench your thirst as well. The CXXX Bar and Grill is the little building (as you are looking back onshore) to the right of the dock. You can see the outdoor patio surrounded in plexiglass to protect patrons from the constant winds, allowing them to relax with drink or food and enjoy the beautiful views. CXXX Bar and Grill serves Walking Man beer and the staff is super friendly. The house salad and fries were great for a pub; I didn’t expect baby greens in my house salad, and the homemade vinaigrette was tasty. It is not an upscale experience, but it was fun and the view was great.
For a more upscale experience, Skamania Lodge is only a couple of miles from the dock. They have a much larger outdoor patio overlooking the Columbia Gorge and surrounding peaks where you can get just a beer, or go all out and get a beautiful meal. Expect to bit more than you would at CXXX; it all depends on what you are looking for.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the ever elusive Bigfoot! Skamania is Bigfoot country after all. I think we may have even seem him kite boarding, but don’t take my word for it. Go check out Stevenson, WA for yourself. And if you have time, make sure to drive over the Bridge of The Gods at least once ($1 toll each way).
Downtown Stevenson, WA is located right on Rt 14 45 miles (an hour) east Vancouver by way of Rt14 E, and it’s 47 miles (an hour) east of Portland OR by way of I-84 to the Bridge of The Gods (go right when you come off the bride). To get to the steamboat dock, from downtown Skamania go right on Russel Street and follow 2 blocks to the dock. Parking is free, and there is also a picnic area with a mesmerizing wind sculpture.
No matter which way you arrive at Stevenson your drive will be easy and beautiful, as will your visit.