The Columbia River Gorge is known for being a giant evergreen playground for hikers, and for scarcely being able to look any direction without seeing a majestic waterfall right in front of your face. It’s also known for being the birthplace of windsurfing which, if you happen to go out there without checking the weather first, will become apparent as soon as you step outside and start chasing your hat: the wind is pretty extraordinary!
But what a lot of people don’t realize is that just past Cascade Locks, Middle Earth makes a small appearance. When heading east on I-84, take exit 44 into Cascade Locks and take a right towards downtown. After continuing on Frontage Rd. and taking a left on Wyeth Rd. you will soon come to a stop where the road ends at a gate.
This place is called Government Cove. There are several paths that go up and around the short cliffs that make up the small peninsula. The rock formations are unlike anything else that can be seen in the area. The short, moss-like grass covering the tops of the cliffs and the small fields on the ground appear to be imported straight from New Zealand or Scotland. At times, it seems as if all that’s missing is Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli riding up to Rohan, or warg riders charging at men on horses.
All of this lies right in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge, with dramatic mountains that be seen on either side, just so you don’t forget completely that you are still in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the cliffs there are to explore, there is a jetty that extends out from here, allowing you to get an amazing view of the cove with the mountains in the background. It also give you an opportunity to experience the Gorge from the middle of the river, without having to take a ride on a boat.
A great way to cap off the day here is to build a fire in one of the many fire pits dispersed throughout the peninsula. This spot proves to be a great place to get a solid dose of exploration, without being tired after a hike or running into crowds taking selfies. Or running into orcs for that matter, most likely.