Located on the banks of the Columbia River east of the city of Vancouver, WA the community of Washougal is known to both residents and visitors as the “Gateway to the Gorge”. With a population of about 13,000 the town is both a suburb in the Portland, OR metropolitan area and at the same time a semi-rural collection of historic buildings, fine shops and plenty of sightseeing opportunities. The nearby Washougal River, the hills and evergreen forests, and the Columbia Gorge itself provide outdoor adventure in nearly every category.
There are a total of 12 parks in and around Washougal and many are of historical note. Hamllick Park has a large number of BBQ areas, covered picnic sites and lots of open grassy play areas. Captain William Clark Park is named after the famous explorer and is the site where the Lewis and Clark expedition camped in 1806. Dick Beaver Park is a tiny area near the exit of the SR-14 pedestrian tunnel that is planted with a huge variety of shrubs including elderberry, bitter cherry, Indian plum and red-flowering currant. Campen Creek Park is largely undisturbed and contains a primitive trail system.
Kayaking on the Columbia River and its tributaries is one of the most popular activities in the area. The Washougal River affords kayakers the opportunity to experience whitewater, deep pools and incredible forest. Along the way are points of interest such as the Sandy Swimming Hole and the Washougal River Greenway.
Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Located 15 miles east of town this area provides a winter home to swans. The lake and its small feeder streams are the birthplace of several species of salmon and the wetlands themselves are in an undisturbed natural state.
Lacamas Lake Park
North of Washougal on State Route 500 is a favorite boating and fishing destination and there are numerous hiking trails that cover more than 300 acres. These trails lead to smaller ponds and the virtually undisturbed Round Lake, affording visitors the chance to see a number of wildlife species in their native habitat.
Columbia River Gorge
The gorge cuts through the Cascade Mountain Range and the river narrows and becomes swift. The winds shift regularly from east to west and for this reason the challenge is great for the multitude of windsurfers that frequent this area. Rubber raft trips are also popular and guided excursions can be arranged in Washougal or other nearby communities. Among the most visited attractions are Beacon Rock, Skamania Lodge, the Crown Point overlook and the impressive Bonneville Dam.
Geography And Climate
Washougal and vicinity is part of the Pacific Ocean marine environment and as such the weather is generally mild the year round. Summers are dry compared to the winter months and the Columbia Gorge is usually filled with moderate breezes that are welcome on sunny summer days. The Washougal River drains into the Columbia River from the north and is fed by lakes, underground springs and snowmelt. Most of the nearby terrain is flat near the river’s edge but high hills are present to the north and northeast.