A Sunday Drive Around the ‘Hood

After a busy summer last year, a very busy fall, and too much winter to think about, we finally took a day out of the house.

We needed this long overdue escape from the city and our usual routine.

Drive around Mt Hood

The Zip Jar is sending us around Mt Hood today! The plan? Hop in the car and go for a long Sunday drive around Mt Hood, dinner at our favorite restaurant in Hood River, and a drive home on the scenic Washington side of The Gorge.

Dave attached the GoPro to the windshield, while I grabbed some drinks and snacks, and we were off for a day of glorious sunshine, incredible views of three snow-covered mountains, and a deep breath of fresh air.

I love getting on the highway near our neighborhood because there is absolutely no doubt when the mountain is out. This is our on-ramp.

Just an ordinary freeway on-ramp in Portland
Just an ordinary freeway on-ramp in Portland

Would you like to join us on the drive? (Of course you would, right?) Dave’s video takes you all the way around Mt Hood. (The snow-covered mountain near the end is Mt Adams.)

Watch: A Drive Around The ‘Hood

An ordinary view of Mt Hood from I-84 near Wood Village, OR
An ordinary view of Mt Hood from I-84 near Wood Village, OR

After living in Oregon for more than 15 years, I still never tire of seeing the mountain on the horizon. Just an ordinary day.
It never gets old.Jonsrud Viewpoint in Sandy, OR

Jonsrud Viewpoint in Sandy, ORI had always wanted to visit Jonsrud Viewpoint just outside of the town of Sandy, Oregon, so that was our first stop.

At first glance, it didn’t look like much, but as we approached the viewpoint, I recognized that whoever built this foursquare a hundred years ago must have had first dibs on the land.

house with view of Mt Hood
Dibs!

Here is the view across the street from their living room window:

Mt Hood
Mt Hood

Amazing.

Mt Hood
Mt Hood

Simply stunning.

Dave & Pam
Dave & I being photobombed by Mt Hood

After a brief stop for some photos, we hit the road again, enjoying a beautiful drive around the mountain. No, we didn’t stop in any of the towns or sno parks and didn’t venture off the beaten path. We just wanted a scenic alternative to lounging on the couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. This was perfect.

Hwy 26 near Mt Hood
Hwy 26 heading up to the mountain
Snow Zone
Snow Zone
Mt Hood
The south face of Mt Hood

I love driving down the east side of the mountain into Hood River. At one point in the middle of the Hood River Valley, Mt Adams (in Washington) becomes visible up ahead while Mt Hood is still visible in the rear.

Mt Adams
Mt Adams in Washington State
Mt Hood
Mt Hood in the rear view mirror

(Can’t wait for the fruit season to start!)

Fruit Stand
One of dozens of fruit stands along the Hood River Valley “Fruit Loop” drive

Several visits to the area earlier, we discovered the 6th Street Bistro & Pub in downtown Hood River, and it has been our favorite stop every time we’re in the area. (We keep hoping the soup special will be the coconut curry chicken soup again, but so far no luck.)

6th Street Bistro in Hood River
6th Street Bistro and Pub in Hood River

After a quick burger, we hopped on the road again and crossed the Columbia River and entered Washington.

The bridge always makes us giggle. I holler “Draw, Bridge!” in my fakest western accent, and Dave makes a dad joke about bridges being unable to draw because they have no opposable thumbs with which to hold the crayons.

Hood River Bridge
Hood River Bridge

Most people who have explored the Columbia River Gorge have done so from I-84, on the Oregon side. It’s mysterious, mossy, beautiful and Hobbit-like on that side, with views of the Washington hills covered with fuzzy brown velvet. The Washington side of the Gorge, however, has completely different scenery. You’d think that traveling on either side of the river would yield similar scenery, but because of the geology and microclimates of the area, they are more like fraternal twins.

Scenic SR14 in Washington
Scenic SR14 in Washington

Born together, but two very different individuals.

Rock formations along SR14 in Washington
Rock formations along SR14 in Washington

Views from SR-14 on the Washington side give you close-up views of towering rock formations, five tunnels, and fascinating geologic formations like columnar basalt – earth science nerds like myself would agree that it’s like driving through a million year old history book.

Tunnel #2 on SR14
Tunnel #2 on SR14
“The Nostrils”
“The Nostrils”

The five sets of tunnels all have similar bores for both rail and road, and they always make me think of gorilla nostrils. There’s a Ford truck ad on tv right now that we swear shows a truck driving into the nostrils. This was our first drive out through the Gorge after the devastatingly heartbreaking Eagle Creek Fire last summer. It was a somber moment, realizing just how vast the burned area is. I wasn’t able to get many pictures due to the angle of the sun, but we’ll be back. The entire hillside in the picture below should be covered with a thick forest of green, but the ridges are burnt. The ridges look like they’re covered with thinning hair styled into a stand-up crew cut, not lush green wonderland.
So sad.
This picture is only a fraction of a fraction of what was burnt.

View of the Oregon Cascades from the Washington side of the Gorge
View of the Oregon Cascades from the Washington side of the Gorge

Driving along the Oregon side, the highway is either too close to see some of the scenery the area is most famous for, including a stunning view of Mt Hood. I try to see if I can name each of the Oregon waterfalls and landmarks as we drive past them from the Washington side:

Bridal Veil Falls, Multnomah Falls, Rooster Rock, Crown Point, Vista House…

Unfortunately for photography purposes, the sun lowered in the sky as we drove home, so I wasn’t able to catch many pictures of Oregon from the Washington side of the Gorge.

I guess we’ll have to go back.

Soon.

Meanwhile, we’ve got one more tunnel to enter on our way home.

Portland's Vista Ridge Tunnel
Portland’s Vista Ridge Tunnel

(See the graffiti over our tunnel? Apparently it’s a sore nostril.)

If this inspires you to take a drive around Mt Hood, here’s an image to pin so you can find it when you’re ready. We’d love to hear all about your trip!

Sunday Drive Around The Hood

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