We left Ketchum and were planning on driving straight to Mt. Rainer NP. At the last minute, however, we decided to swing by Hood River, Oregon for a couple of days because we’d had it recommended to us by several people. Along the way, we stopped in Boise, Idaho for two nights and happened to camp within walking distance to the Boise Hawks’ stadium. They were playing at home so we decided to check them out. The game was fun, but I’m still partial to the Montgomery Biscuits or the Asheville Tourists. The next day, after an early bike ride on Boise’s wonderful intown hike/bike trail and a trip to the Boise Children’s Museum, we continued on towards Hood River.
As we crossed the state line we spotted a sign for the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center located near Baker, Oregon and had to pull off. Having spent hours playing the Oregon Trail computer game as kids, Maggie and I both thought it warranted a stop. We laughed a lot reading some of the diary entries from the pioneers as we felt like we could sympathize with many of their experiences (minus the dysentery – fingers crossed). A prairie schooner is pretty much the same as a travel trailer right?
Hood River is an active, outdoorsy town located along the Columbia River near the Bonneville Dam. We secured a campsite at a state park located just outside of town along a railroad track. We decided to stay at the park despite the tracks since it was located on the Columbia River and offered access to several waterfalls and hikes. We were unpleasantly surprised though by the frequency with which the trains passed during the night. Liam got used to it, but CJ was pretty terrified every time it came through, which was 3 or 4 times a night.
After hiking to a few different waterfalls in the area, we decided to visit the Bonneville Dam. The Bonneville Dam was built in the 1930’s and is open to the public. In addition to information about the construction of the dam, it also allows visitors to view the fish ladder that the salmon and other fish use to swim upstream. The kids really enjoyed watching the fish through large viewing windows.
After the dam we headed a little further down the road to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, home of Herman the Sturgeon. Herman is a 79 years old and weighs a whopping 500 pounds! The kids got a kick out of seeing Herman and feeding the rainbow trout. Normally a fish hatchery wouldn’t be high on our list of tourist stops, but this one was actually pretty nice with beautifully manicured gardens and plenty for the kids to see and do.
Before we left, I was given leave to wake up at the crack of dawn to hike Mt. Defiance. The hike was only 12 miles long but gains 5,000 feet in less than 6 miles. While I enjoyed the challenge of hiking up the mountain, I did not enjoy the steep decent and had to practically run down whether I wanted to or not. While I’ve certainly done longer hikes, I can’t remember doing a tougher one than this and don’t believe I’d be doing this hike too frequently if I was a resident of Hood River.