Best Day Trip Near Portland Itinerary

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area with its towering basalt cliffs, countless waterfalls, and lush green forests, is one of the most stunning natural areas in the Pacific Northwest. The Gorge hosts an abundance of outdoor activities, including whitewater rafting, which we believe makes it the best day trip near Portland! With numerous breweries, wineries, and farm-to-table restaurants, it is no wonder this place is a must-stop-and-explore destination for locals and visitors alike. We highly recommend a day trip even if you’ve only got a short stay in the Portland, Oregon area since this single-day itinerary is only 1-hour drive away from downtown Portland.

Best Day Trip Near Portland Oregon

Photo: Vista House | Travel Portland

The Gorge is also home to the White Salmon River, which flows from the glaciers of Mt. Adams through the dense forests of the Cascade Range to its union with the Columbia River. With continuous class III-IV whitewater and Husum Falls, a 10-foot-high raftable waterfall, the White Salmon River offers one of the most beautiful and adventurous river day trips in the West! Whitewater rafting, spectacular scenery, and great dining in the Columbia River Gorge is easily accessible from Portland in just one gratifying day. River Drifters offers morning and afternoon half-day trips on the White Salmon River, leaving plenty of time to explore other parts of the Columbia River Gorge either before or after rafting.

Best Day Trip Near Portland Oregon

Photo: Husum Falls, River Drifters

Start your best day trip from Portland with a full to-go mug of your favorite morning beverage, a packed picnic, and an adventurous spirit, and head east on Interstate 84. Spend a sunny summer Gorge morning hiking to one of the area’s many hidden waterfalls, like the Wahclella Falls Trail, a 2.5-mile out-and-back trail following Tanner Creek to the 350-foot tiered Wahclella Falls, or Dry Creek Falls Hike, a 4.5-mile out-and-back trail (including a section of the PCT) to the 75-foot Dry Creek Falls and its columnar basalt amphitheater.

Best Day Trip Near Portland Oregon

Photo: Wahclella Falls | Abby Joffe

Live like a local and turn your day in the Gorge into a multi-sport day. Cyclists can ride for miles on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, a paved, non-motorized vehicle path divided into three sections and accessible by multiple entry points along I-84. The path parallels the Columbia River, climbs and descends the basalt walls of The Gorge, passes by countless waterfalls, and leads to breathtaking viewpoints only seen by those who have arrived under human power. Mountain bikers of all skill sets can access over 60 miles of trails by heading to Post Canyon, one of the area’s premiere mountain biking trail systems.

Best Day Trip Near Portland Oregon

Photo: The Old Highway | Gorge Guide

Check-in at the River Drifters Outpost in Husum, Washington for your best day trip from Portland rafting reservation on the White Salmon River. River Drifters provides all the necessary rafting equipment for your trip including wetsuits and splash jackets, as well as experienced and skilled whitewater guides. Whitewater rafting on the White Salmon River is truly a thrill. The crystal-clear blue river runs through a basalt canyon covered with vibrant green vegetation and holds non-stop adrenaline-pumping whitewater.

Best Day Trip Near Portland Oregon

Photo: White Salmon River, River Drifters

After a full-day trip of whitewater rafting and outdoor recreation, enjoy a fresh, delicious meal and hand-crafted brew at one or both of these local favorites, Solstice Wood Fire Pizza, in Hood River, Oregon, and Everybody’s Brewery, in White Salmon, Washington. Delicious and hearty food is sure win when it comes wrapping up your best day trip near Portland!

Best Day Trip Near Portland Oregon

Photo: Everybody’s Brewing | White Salmon, WA

What do say–ready to book your best day trip near Portland and all that awaits in the Columbia River Gorge? Click here to learn more about our White Salmon River whitewater rafting trips.