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Viento State Park was named for three railroad tycoons who laid down tracks for the first railroad company. Viento is a mashup of the owners’ names: Villard, Endicott, and Tollman. Viento is also a Spanish word for wind, which is an apt coincidence. Due to a geographic quirk, the valleys and mountains around, as well as the Columbia River Gorge itself, channel winds into this area. Viento State Park, located in Oregon, is known for being the best spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing on the Columbia River. Although it can be quite blustery at times, the stretch of shoreline is relatively clear of rocky outcroppings and other obstacles.
To the south of the state park, the snow-clad Mt. Hood looms. Portland is a few scenic miles away, following the Columbia River for the entire trip. The largest town is Hood River, about eight miles east. Book an RV in Hood River County, OR, for an adventure of a lifetime.
Between a bounty of water recreational activities and lush green woods to explore, adventurers won’t be bored. Swim, sail, kayak, or tube at Viento State Park. In late spring and early summer, hit the rapids for pulse-pounding fun. A short hike on one of the ADA accessible trails terminates with a grand view of Starvation Creek Falls. This waterfall is underrated due to its location as it descends some 190 feet in a delicate, graceful veil into a pool that in turn tumbles over a jumble of moss-clad rocks on its way to the Columbia River. Starvation Creek Falls is just the closest of dozens of waterfalls in the area. Explore them all in a rental camper when you visit Viento State Park.
Twelve miles of Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail serpentine and twines along the Columbia River, at times, veering close to the cliffs overlooking the river, other times, retreating into deep verdant woods. In the lush woods, footfalls are cushioned by soft moss and wet leaves. The hum of the traffic on Highway 84 is dulled to a faint whisper, drowned out by babbling brooks and roaring waterfalls. The trail passes by several state park campgrounds, including Ainsworth State Park campground, which is close to the famous Upper Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls.
With so much to do and see around Viento State Park, it’s hard to think of a reason to leave the area when campgrounds are so plentiful. Camping at Viento State Park not only offers fantastic views of the river, it also has 56 sites with electric and water hookups, restrooms, and hot showers.
Downriver (to the west), the KOA at Cascade Locks, offers more luxurious amenities in comparison. They boast amenities like hot tubs, roomy 110-foot pull-thru sites, WiFi, which is a rarity in rural mountains, and a dog park area. Whether you prefer rustic camping at state parks or full-service campgrounds, you’ll have plenty to choose from near Viento State Park.
Under the shadow of Mt. Hood that looms large to the south and the wide river sweeping past, the world shrinks down to a few tiny towns along the Highway 84 corridor. There’s plenty of places to see, though, with some patience and a handy RV rental. Downriver, the Cascade Locks Historical Museum, which overlooks a series of locks used to raise and lower boats, is inside one of the three original lock tender 1905 houses. Inside the small home-turned-museum, hundreds of photographs, documents, and yellowed maps provide a glimpse into the river’s past. The town of Cascades Locks has attractions like art galleries, craft beer breweries, and an old-fashioned drive-in diner.
Upriver, small, quaint stores and cafes line the streets of the town of Hood River, OR, retailing goods like homemade bread, cider from a local apple orchard, custom kites, and works of art created by local artists. Several restaurants and pubs feature locally sourced wines, many of which can be found in the Hood Valley just south of the town. Hop into a rental motorhome and embark on a self-guided tour of the valley in search of the perfect wine. The award-winning Naked Winery’s tasting room is conveniently in town. True to form, the tasting room is laid back and casual. The staff holds regular workshops to guide novice wine tasters through the process of selecting their preferred wines.
Grocery store produce has nothing on fresh, sun-warmed fruits and berries. Several small “you-pick” farms share the valley with the local wineries. Juicy Blue U-Pick Farm south of Hood River features a range of berries, depending on the season, including blueberries, currants, gooseberries, and blackberries.
Further south, near the town of Mt. Hood the Draper Girls Country Farm is also a “you-pick” enterprise that features tree fruits. Orchards of peach, pear, cherry, plum, and apple trees sprawl across several rolling acres of farmland. The farm also has a cider mill that runs on a nearby creek. In a farm-to-table program with the local restaurants, the cider mill specializes in cider growlers that can be purchased at the farm.
Camp at Viento State Park, roam the lush Oregon mountains and wide-open valleys and make new memories that’ll last a lifetime.