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The Gorge, USA

The Gorge, USA
Region: North America
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If you do not have the time or the money to travel abroad, go to Maui for example, there’s a great windsurfing/kiteboarding destination stateside. The destination I am talking about is 'The Gorge', or the Columbia River Gorge, situated in the Pacific Northwest, between Washington and Oregon. The Gorge is a 4,000 feet (1,200 m) deep canyon that stretches for 80 miles (130km); it is protected and managed by the US Forest Service because it holds a protected status of a National Scenic Area.

Nature lovers go to The Gorge to admire the great outdoors. Windsurfers and kiteboarders go to The Gorge because this location has the following to offer:

In the summer the average temperature is of  77°F (25°C) while the water temperature is of about 63° to 72°F (17° to 22°C). Wearing a summer water suit is a must. The Gorge is consistently warm and windy during the summer.

The best months to go to The Gorge for wind are May, June, July, August and September. It must be mentioned here that the wind blows from the west, against the flow of the water, which means you can carve with great ease. The average wind speed is of about 20 knots.

This is a very localized, thermal wind that comes up the river from the coast. The wind starts around Stevenson and stops as the river meets the desert. In the winter the wind blows the other way around because the desert cools down and is colder than the Pacific. The wind can pick up some considerable speed in the winter – which is nice. But the temperature is very low in the winter – which is definitely not nice.

Keep this in mind: ideally you will want to ride in westerly winds, when the wind blows from left to right as you stand looking out to the river from Hood River Town. The worst riding conditions are in light easterly winds, when the wind blows from right to left, with the water flow.

The water state varies according to two factors:
1. The river’s speed – which in turn depends on how much water the local damn released.
2. The wind speed.

Usually you get flat water near the edges of the river and plenty of chop as you go near the middle of the river.

At the water’s edge you will find sand, pebbles and slippery rocks 

A word of warning: watch out for other vessels on the water and for debris in the water. A big barge will not stop for you if you get in its way. A log will not care if you hit it and damage your gear or hurt yourself (logs occasionally drift down the river).

A second word of warning: riding near the dams is a good way to get arrested or even killed. Stay away from the dams!

On the Washington side, you can try these spots:  Stevenson, Swell City, The Hatchery, Doug’s Beach, Mary Hill, The Wall, 3 Mile Canyon.
One the Oregon side, you can try these spots: Hood River Event Site, Rowena, the coast.

Accommodation, food, nightlife
There are plenty of hotels, guest houses and rentals to choose from – just don’t expect them to be cheap. They’re not cheap because they have facilities like TV, DVD player, washing machine and even wireless broadband. These accommodations are meant for families who want to enjoy Gorge activities in the summer.
There are also plenty of places to find food, from pizza and fast food joints to high end restaurants. Eating out is generally cheaper than eating in.
There are plenty of bars to go to when the sun goes down.

Other outdoor activities
If you get tired of windsurfing/kiteboarding, you can try out a few other outdoor activities, such as white water rafting, snowboarding (on Mount Hood Glacier), hiking, mountain biking, golf, and sightseeing.

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