The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most iconic locations in the Pacific Northwest, hosting some of the most awe inspiring views imaginable, endless opportunities to explore outdoor recreation in virtually every form, and history that can’t help but fascinate you. You’ve likely heard of Hood River and have perhaps even visited the Bonneville Dam or driven the scenic byway. Names like Multnomah Falls and Crown Point are revered as some of the can’t-miss sights, and the PNW wouldn’t be complete without a stop to the Full Sail Brew Pub.
These places hold a dear spot in our hearts, but the Gorge wouldn’t be what it is without the infinite opportunities to explore places that aren’t highlighted on every brochure, Instagram account, or popularity boasted in the number of vehicles in overflowing parking lots.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Mary Pellegrini from the Old Parkdale Inn, located halfway between Mt. Hood and the Gorge. Mary prides herself in her immense knowledge in the secrets of the area, from which hike has the best wildflowers at the specific moment in time to locations of well hidden geo-caches, history behind large rocks that dictated how land was initially distributed and how that affects us today, which cemeteries hold the most fascinating stories (although those will always come second to her own), and which cider farms you absolutely must visit.
The Old Parkdale Inn was built in the early 1900’s by Charles and Lillian Craven. The area still looks very much the same, driving through blooming orchards and gazing at Mt. Hood standing guard over the valley as you turn onto the road for the Inn. Mary and Steve’s lifelong dream of becoming innkeepers became a reality nearly a century after the home was originally completed. They’ve given the historic Craven house a new life while maintaining its historical qualities, and are happiest when sharing this little slice of heaven with others.
Their quaint home boasts three suites, each full of their own character. Mary has struck a perfect balance between remaining authentic to the era of the beautiful house, while offering modern day technologies and conveniences (vacation wouldn’t be the same without indulging in your wifi connection while lounging in a bathrobe!)
Mornings here are spent gathered around the long dining room table, being pampered by Mary’s culinary prowess. Dutch baby pancakes are her most recent obsession, and she’s been known to use her imagination creating a wide variety of delectable tarts and assortments of french toast. Her knowledge about the local vineyards is only paralleled by the fruits of those vineyard’s availability on the living room wine rack. Mary and Steve know the value of gather around a good bonfire at the day’s end to trade stories, sharing tales of your own adventures in the area to add to the home’s legend while roasting marshmellows and sipping your favorite beverage.
While Google may hold most of the answers to questions that we choose to seek out, Mary and Steve are bound to enrich your vacation with the few things that Google doesn’t know with their deep insight and love for the area, unparalleled home cooked meals, memorable conversations, and the comforts of home that you’ll want to take with you when you depart.
A day on the White Salmon River and a stay with Mary and Steve at the Old Parkdale Inn make a perfect combination to indulge in the less seen side of the Columbia River Gorge! Let us help plan your adventure off the beaten path!
For more information on the spectacular Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge region, we recommend visiting Travel Oregon and Columbia River Gorge Visitor Association. You can also visit Wet Planet’s regional activities and lodging options.