COLUMBIA HILLS STATE PARK
Columbia Hills Historical State Park puts the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area at your fingertips. This 3,637-acre park is composed of four different sites which offer a range of experiences. Rock climbing, swimming and spring hikes through vast fields of balsamroot flowers make for an action-packed stay, not to mention the nearby attractions of Goldendale Observatory and Maryhill Museum.
Crawford Oaks Trailhead
To the north of Highway 14, the Crawford Oaks Trailhead offers access to miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails that crisscross the Columbia Hills with astounding views of Mount Adams, Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. In the springtime, the hills are covered in places with colorful wild flowers, especially arrowleaf balsamroot and lupine.
The Dalles Mountain Ranch
To the north of Highway 14, the Dalles Mountain Ranch Area, a historic homestead ranch, features several historic buildings and farm equipment display. The Dalles Mountain Ranch trailhead allows visitors access to the same trails as the Crawford Oaks Trailhead and is also popular during wildflower season.
Horsethief Lake caters to campers and water-lovers; amenities include tent and RV campsites, a watercraft launch and pedal boat and kayak rentals. A group of significant Native American pictographs and petroglyphs are located in this area of the park. The Temani Pesh-Wa exhibit is open daily for self-guided viewing. The world-famous Tsagaglalal, (She Who Watches) and other pictographs and petroglyphs can be viewed by making a reservation to participate in a regularly scheduled ranger-led tour.
Columbia Hills Historical State Park is layered in natural and cultural history. The end of the last Ice Age saw catastrophic floods sweep through the region, carving and scouring features that still can be seen in the basalt formations and walls of the Columbia River Gorge. Prolific salmon runs provided sustenance for the Native American tribes who lived along the shores of the Columbia and for others who traveled hundreds of miles each season, passing through Columbia Hills on their way to fish at Celilo Falls. In October 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped by Horsethief Lake on their way to the Pacific Ocean. In the mid-1800s, Euro-American settlers began establishing homesteads in the hills above the river. Their land claims were eventually combined into the Dalles Mountain Ranch, which became a state park in 1993.