Located on the shores of the Columbia River, the Port of The Dalles is the eastern gateway to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. It is a small town with unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation that includes hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, hunting, skiing, and whitewater rafting. The Port of The Dalles is also home to the Maryhill Museum of Art (with a large collection of works by Auguste Rodin), The Museum at Warm Springs run by Native Americans, and the Columbia Hills State Park with ancient petroglyphs and pictographs. The Port of The Dalles hosts several annual events including the Northwest Cherry Festival in April, the Cruise the Gorge Classic Weekend and the Dufur Threshing Bee in August, and the Gorge EcoFest in September.
The Port of The Dalles has a cool semiarid climate dominated by the Cascade Mountains to the west. However, its geographic position in the eastern Columbia Gorge creates many microclimates in the Port of The Dalles area. Sumer lasts from the middle of June through early September in the Port of The Dalles and is relatively warm for the Pacific Northwest. From late September through early November, temperatures drop quickly and wet weather arrives. Winter is the rainy season in the Port of The Dalles, and snow comes every year. Spring, from late February through early June, is the windiest time of year. Temperatures in the Port of The Dalles range from an average high of 31°C (88°F) in July and August to an average low of -1°C (30°F) in December and January. Precipitation is greatest from November through January when it exceeds five centimeters (two inches). Humidity levels range from a low of about 78% in July to a high of about 88% in October and November. Snow comes to the Port of The Dalles from mid-October through early April, peaking in January at just under 12 centimeters (about 4.5 inches).
The Museum at Warm Springs is operated by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to share their history and culture with visitors to the Port of The Dalles. Visitors will enjoy hearing the ancient songs and languages of the people, and they can watch traditional crafts being created. The 10-thousand-hectare facility recalls encampments long Shitike Creek and demonstrates the integration of art into daily life and exhibits finely-detailed work in Native Stone, heavy timber, and brick. Admission to the museum is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4.50 for students and visitors with Tribal IDs, and $3 for children from five to twelve.
Located ten kilometers (six miles) northeast of the Port of The Dalles is Columbia Hills State Park, a 1.3-hectare camping park with 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) of freshwater shoreline and access to the 90-acre lake formed by The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. Open from 6:30am until dusk from April 1 to October 31, this Washington State park contains the Horsethief Lake National Historic Site where visitors can make reservations for guided tours of pictographs and petrographs. During the peak season from May 15 until September 15, campers will find primitive and water trail campsites and standard, partial-utility, and full-utility campsites available on a first-come first-served basis. Off-peak season campsites are also available. Visitors to the Port of The Dalles and the Columbia Hills State Park can take advantage of some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of hiking trails, two boat ramps, fishing, swimming, rock climbing, and birdwatching. Columbia Hills State Park is home to abundant wildlife, birds and waterfowl, and fish.
At the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge, the Port of The Dalles is home to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum. Exhibits at the museum include the equipment and supplies used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the geologic and cultural history of the Columbia River Gorge, the creatures and people of the Ice Age, and the history of Wasco County. Other exhibits cover the birds of prey of the region and a nature walk through five acres of indigenous plants. Visitors can stop for a bite at the Basalt Rock Café. The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum is open from 9am until 5pm every day but New Year's, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for children from six to 16. Special rates for groups are also available.