About The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County
Historical Museum

The Mission of the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of the Columbia River Gorge and Wasco County through collection, preservation, and interpretation of cultural and natural history resources.

    board of directors   •  annual report  •  press inquiries
The Discovery Center
The Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum

The 48,200 sq. ft. facility won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for its appealing design. The Center is situated on a 54-acre point of land adjacent to the Columbia River and the Historic Columbia River Highway. The site provides walking trails, a pond, and scenic overlooks. Its location in The Dalles, Oregon is an ecosystem transition zone, facilitating the interpretation of both the rain forest west of the Cascade Mountains and the arid region to the east. Live raptor education programs engage all ages in issues related to habitat preservation.

The area includes one of the oldest continuously occupied areas in North America (over 11,000 years), immediate proximity to one of the largest rivers on the continent, and access to the Lewis and Clark and Oregon Trails.


The multimedia, interactive museum inspires appreciation and stewardship of the natural and cultural treasures of the Gorge and Wasco County. Exhibits focus on the volcanic upheaval and raging floods that created the Gorge, the unique flora and fauna of the region, and eleven thousand years of cultural history. Collections include hundreds of American Indian baskets from throughout the Pacific Northwest, photo archives (partially available on-line), and local genealogical files available in the William G. Dick Library. In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing films in the theater located on site. If you plan to spend the day at the Discovery Center and Museum, you can relax during a lunch or coffee break at the Basalt Rock Cafe.

The grounds have been painstakingly restored with native vegetation, serving to promote soil and water conservation, and appreciation for the natural landscape.  From early spring to late fall, they are graced with ninety blooming native plant species that are adapted to the dry, windblown environment of the eastern end of the gorge. A wildflower database helps visitors identify plants and the interpretive trail focuses on the variety of vegetation and wildlife supported by the habitat along the banks of the Columbia River. You will see willows, cottonwoods, sedges and cattails, as well as numerous varieties of grasses, wildflowers, and other plants native to the Gorge. Songbirds, water fowl, reptiles, amphibians, foxes, and raccoons are some examples of the wildlife that lives here. The handicap accessible trails offer incredible views of the Columbia River and Klickitat Hills.


About the Discovery Center Project Bill Hulse, retired Wasco County Judge, is a founding Board Member and steadfast supporter of the Discovery Center. Read his memoirs about the development of the Discovery Center project here.

The Stunning Entry to the Discovery Center
The Stunning Entry to the Discovery Center

Press Inquiries

Media and Press Inquiries

For media and press inquires:

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum  •  5000 Discovery Drive  •  The Dalles, OR 97058
Phone: 541-296-8600, ext 215  •   Fax: 541-298-8660  •  email: marketing@gorgediscovery.org