Windsurfing Overview: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Windsurfing in Columbia River Gorge.
Windsurfing in Columbia River Gorge. (Wikimedia)

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Highlights

  • Ride winds blowing from the Columbia River Gorge that pump giant swells.
  • Eat a long, leisurely breakfast—the best gusts don't pick up before midday.
  • Trek to the Oregon side of the river, where windsurfing sites are intermediate to advanced.
  • Spend the night in nearby Stevenson—the gateway to fantastic windsurfing on the River.


The Columbia River Gorge, and Hood River, the town at the narrowest point of the Gorge, are internationally famous destinations for windsurfers. Surfers who launch from sites on both the Oregon and Washington sides of the river all the way from from Rooster Rock to Rufus find that wind conditions can vary greatly at different locations due to the complex relationship between the cool marine weather found on the west side of the Cascades and dryer weather from the inland basin. The wind speeds often vary from 15 miles per hour at one location to 35 mph at another spot 30 miles east or west. Launch sites as little as one mile apart can have huge swells at one, and small chop at the other.

The windsurfing community at Columbia Gorge is another plus. Windsurfers can quickly hook into a full array of clubs, publications, gear shops, and even lodging facilities dedicated to their sport. The Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association is the political arm, working to improve access to the Gorge, and is a good place to hook into the windsurfing scene.

Even if you don't windsurf, you'll probably enjoy sitting on a bench or rock and watching their antics. It's almost as much fun as watching otters.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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