The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most scenic areas in Oregon. From the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia River tumbles through many different geological regions, creating carved cliffs and cascading waterfalls along its route. The Dalles, where Memaloose State Park is located, is part of the drier and warmer area of the Gorge. Memaloose State Park sits in one of the warmest sections of the Gorge and can reach temperatures of over 100 degrees in the summer, but the park remains a cool and lush escape from the heat.
Memaloose State Park is a seasonally operating park and campground. The name Memaloose comes from a Chinook word associated with burial rituals. The park was named after an island in the Columbia River which was once a traditional Chinook Indian burial ground. The park’s original name was Memaloose Island Overlook, but when reconstruction on the highway added private land to the original park’s boundaries, the park changed ownership, and it was renamed Memaloose State Park.
Today, this 441.35-acre park is considered an oasis because of its grassy meadows and tall maples, willows, and cottonwood trees that provide a cooling effect amidst the surrounding Gorge. RV campers will enjoy this prime location and want to spend time outdoors enjoying the beautiful scenery.
This is not hard with the different activities available for visitors to enjoy. These include local activities like biking, birding, hiking, which you can do at the park, and other activities like paddleboarding and learning more about the history of the surrounding area, which you'll have to leave the park to do.
Visitors who decide to stay at the park for a couple of nights to fully enjoy being out in nature can expect exceptional RV and tent campsites. The park has over 100 sites for campers to choose from, some are suitable for RV and tent campers, while others are tent-only sites. You are sure to find a site to suit your needs. The park is less than 80 miles from Portland and is ideal for a weekend RV getaway.
Memaloose State Park is less than 80 miles west of Portland, Oregon. Visitors traveling from Portland should anticipate toll roads along the route. Its not hard to find and is just off of I-84. RVers traveling on I-84 from Portland can expect to come across a covered bridge along the way and this may hinder their rigs, depending on the rig's height. If the need arises for supplies or anything you forgot to bring with you on your RV camping trip, you can travel the 11.5 miles to the city of Mosier. You're sure to find whatever you need there, including gas and a bite to eat.
Once inside the park, the roads remain paved and are spacious and do not have too many curves. This means that you'll easily be able to maneuver your rig through the park to your site. Campers can go ahead and check into their sites, while day visitors make use of the available parking. The park is not too big, so you can get away with walking or biking to the different activities and facilities on offer.
Day visitors will find plenty of parking at the Memaloose rest area just off the highway. Once parked, its just a short walk into the park and major facilities.
The Memaloose Campground is a pet-friendly, seasonally operating campground. It features 43 RV sites and 66 tent-only sites. The 40 back-in RV sites are paved and feature water, 30-amp electrical service, and sewer hookups. Check for individual site dimensions when reserving your space. The largest site accommodates rigs up to 58 feet.
If you've decided to take a break from the RV and sleep under the stars, then the tent sites are for you. These spacious sites are equipped with a water hookup, and, depending on which site you book, feature a full or partial view of the Columbia River. However, it's not safe or legal to reach the river from your tent site because of the active railway line running near the campground. All of the campsites can sleep up to eight people a night and are furnished with tent pads, picnic tables, and fire rings with a grate.
For campers who aren't self-contained, the campground features two centrally-located toilets, hot showers, and a dump station nearby for its registered guests to use during their stay. One of the comfort stations with shower facilities is ADA-accessible.
Campers will also have access to a playground for children and vending machines close by. If you need firewood during your stay, you can purchase it here at the park. Please silence your generators and other noisy equipment between the hours of 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM.
Hiking and biking along the Columbia River are some of the more popular recreational activities in the area. The Historic Columbia River State Trail runs in segments along the Columbia River and offers varied scenery from tunnels to tree-lined trails. Pieces of the path are multi-use, and other parts are specified for hiking or biking. Visitors can find the trailheads and trail access from many locations along the Columbia River State Trail. Although the route doesn’t run through Memaloose State Park, it is still considered one of the park’s main attractions. The closest access point is The Mark O. Hatfield East Trailhead and Visitor Center. When you hike or bike along the multi-use trail segments, make sure to be considerate to other bikers and hikers you encounter.
People who love to camp and not run from one event to another will enjoy Memaloose State Park because the facility is more about the scenic areas and camping than anything else. The kids will love playing around your campsite or playing at the playground that is centrally located inside the campground. Parents, relax by pulling up a chair or sitting on a bench next to the playground and just let the kids do what kids do best: play.
Memaloose State Park doesn’t have any river access points for guests staying at the park. So if you are feeling like exploring the river on a hot summer day, you'll need to leave the park to find recreational activities along the Columbia River. If you want to try something new and challenging, rent paddleboards or take a stand-up paddleboard yoga lesson on the river. The Dalles, Oregon has more than one paddleboard rental facility. Contact one of the local outfitters for more information on an exciting activity that people of many ages genuinely enjoy.
Memaloose State Park offers campers many different scenic viewpoints of the Columbia River. Some of these views come directly from your camping spot! Since many of the RV sites back up to the river, finding something beautiful to look at is as easy as walking out of your side door! If you want to see more official scenic viewpoints, head to one of the official trailheads and visitor centers along the Columbia River State Trail. Park rangers at any of the locations will offer advice and provide you with the maps you need to spend a day exploring the area for things to see.
In the winter, Bald Eagles gather along the Columbia River Gorge. The ability to witness so many of these majestic birds in one location will be an unforgettable experience. From December until early March, eagles roost at night in the trees along the Columbia River. Park rangers, who track the migrating eagles, have counted up to sixty Bald Eagles along the Dalles Dam at one time. Visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center for information on becoming a Bald Eagle birdwatcher.
The city 'The Dalles" earned its name from French-Canadian fur trapper, James Birney when he set up a trading fort along the Columbia River in 1820. The area is also known as a location along the Oregon Trail, as well as a historic military complex. The Fort Dalles Museum, located in the Surgeon’s Quarters of the old military fort, now serves as one of Oregon’s original history museums and is an entertaining and informative place to visit while camping at Memaloose State Park.