Everything You Wanted to Know about The Dalles (But Were Afraid to Ask)
Come September, The Dalles is going to roll out the red carpet for Cycle Oregon, at which point everyone will understand why we’ve selected it as the place to kick off the 2014 Week Ride. If you live in the Portland area and haven’t yet explored The Dalles, why wait? This place is a bona fide cycling destination for mountain bikers and roadies alike. And with 300 days of sun per year, it’s a very good place to get in some early-season training miles for those of us who’d rather become soggied by perspiration than rain and road grime when aboard our bikes.
According to Jim Moore, author of 75 Classic Rides: Oregon, the Dalles-Mosier loop, which includes sections of the Historic Columbia River Highway and the infamous 7-Mile Hill, is a must-ride Oregon classic. He also recommends the shorter Cherry Heights Loop as well as the trek to Hood River from The Dalles, which can be added to the Mosier loop or done as an out-and-back on the HCRH. You can read more about these in his book or at www.rideoregonride.com, where a quick search for “The Dalles-Mosier” and “Cherry Heights” will provide you with everything you need to know. This is also a good website to find out about the area’s many mountain bike trails. Keep in mind you ARE allowed to show up in camp as early as Friday night for the Week Ride, so if you want to have yourself a little prologue…
The saner among us who think a week of back-to-back riding is plenty may still want to arrive early just to hang around and explore one of True West Magazine’s “Top 10 True Western Towns of 2014.”
History buffs will be extra-excited about this area, which is argued to be the “real” end of the Oregon Trail – a topic that the former mayor of The Dalles, Jim Wilcox, will argue at length with anyone who has the courage to suggest otherwise.
Lewis and Clark called The Dalles “Rock Fort” when they visited in 1805, and their campsite is marked on the town’s scenic Riverfront Trail (which is appropriately located over by the river). After the Whitman Massacre of 1847, the U.S. military built Fort Dalles. The fort’s surgeon’s quarters are now the Fort Dalles Museum, which is one of the oldest museums in the state. You can also check out the Wasco County Courthouse, which was built in 1859 and still contains some of the original prisoner restraints.
Bookstore history buffs will be jazzed to learn that Klindt’s Books, the oldest continuously running bookstore west of the mighty Mississippi, is also in The Dalles.
Speaking of museums, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is a great place to learn about the cultural and natural history of the region. Bird lovers will be particularly excited to see the various raptors that call this place home.
Other points of interest include the Rivertap brewpub, which has a mighty nice beer and cocktail menu; The Sunshine Mill, which used to be – wait for it – a mill, but is now a winery and restaurant; and the historic Baldwin Saloon, which is now more restaurant than saloon, but does have a very cool old hand-carved wooden bar that is worth seeing if you’re into very cool old hand-carved wooden bars (and who isn’t?).
Finally, if you want to mix it up with the tourists coming off the riverboats (as well as the “Floozies” who hang around to great them), put on your socks and sandals, strap your camera around your neck and head on down to the boat dock in Riverfront Park. Of course there are some things best left to one’s imagination, and it’s possible the Floozies could fall into this category, but that’s something we’ll just have to find out for ourselves in a few months.
To learn EVEN MORE about the general awesomeness of The Dalles, mosey on over to the website for the town’s Chamber of Commerce.
See you there.