They say the old fashioned Great American road trip is dead. With gas prices soaring, economy still in "recovery mode", and growing popularity of "staycations", it looks like a long summer road trip would be beyond the means of all but the most dedicated of today's vagabonders. But I believe that you can still make your road trip to be both inspiring and affordable if you plan it thoroughly.
The federal government has declared more than 100 roadways to be "Scenic Byways" because of their "outstanding archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic value."
Highway #14 is part of the Lewis and Clark Trail that travels along the north side of the stunning Columbia River Gorge and offers a wide variety of sights and scenes.
My main destination was Hood River, an official windsurfing capital of the world, which is located on Oregon side of the Columbia River. But to get there I decided to travel on HWY 14 to Maryhill, and then to jump on HWY 84 to admire the Gorge from both borders.
The official Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area begins two miles east from Washougal. The area is dotted with multiple sights and points of interests, but only two of them sounded interesting enough to me to make a stop.
A hike to the top of Beacon Rock was amazing. First of all, its right by the road which is very convenient. When I looked at it I wondered how I would get to the top.
Second, it's not your regular "trail" : paths, bridges, and stairs make up the trail that gains about 850 in under a mile. The mile-long trail to its summit provides outstanding panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge.
Beacon Rock is also a somewhat popular climbing destination ( mainly because the main climbing area is closed for half the season ). It is the scene of what must be one of the first technical rock climbs in the Pacific Northwest. It's sheer walls were unscaled until 1901-the date of the first recorded ascent of the rock. Routes range from 5.7 to easy 5.12, with a concentration in the 5.10-5.11 grades.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, and one of the most famous sites in the world. But you don't need to travel that far to see our own replica of it located in Maryhill, Washington. I know I am glad I didn't travel that far to spend 10 minutes and snap a few pictures, just to say " I've seen Stonehenge".
I have to be honest, the drive along HWY 14 was epic. It somewhat reminded me of Vantage/Chelan County : same dark evergreens cover the mountainsides, apple and cherry orchards, vineyards, wind farms, and The Mighty Columbia that flows through a valley with hills on either side. In both cases the views from the road/your car are amazing !