About Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum
The mission of Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is to inspire stewardship of the Columbia River Gorge and Wasco County, encouraging active lifelong learning about our shared environment and the preservation, collection, and interpretation of the cultural and natural history of the region.
The building is a 48,200 sq. ft. facility, which won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award for its appealing design. The museum is family-friendly and wheelchair accessible. 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 on the east end of the Columbia River Gorge is an ecosystem transition zone, facilitating the interpretation of both the rainforest west of the Cascade Mountains and the arid region to the east.
PRESERVING, PROTECTING & INTERPRETING HISTORY
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, located at 5000 Discovery Drive in The Dalles, Oregon, is the official interpretive center for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
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 interactive multimedia 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 online), and local genealogical files available in the William G. Dick Library.
Live raptor education programs engage all ages in issues related to habitat preservation.
In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing films in the theater located on-site. Spend a little time in the Columbia River Trading Co. Our museum store offers a unique selection of art, jewelry, educational toys & games, books, DVDs, home decor, and more. Many items are created in the Pacific Northwest by area artisans.
The grounds have been painstakingly restored with native vegetation, promoting 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 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, cattails, and numerous varieties of grasses, wildflowers, and other plants native to the Gorge. Songbirds, waterfowl, 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, was a founding Board Member and steadfast supporter of the Discovery Center. To read his memoirs about the development of the Discovery Center project, click here.