DescriptionLying on a great crescent bend of the Columbia River, The Dalles was an outgrowth of its location. The river narrows and once spilled over a series of rapids, which the French voyageurs christened les dalles, or “the trough.”
Native Americans and later fur traders found this natural break in navigation a convenient place for trade, a fact Lewis and Clark mentioned when describing it as “the great Indian mart of all this country.”
Until 1845, when a wagon road was built, emigrants on the Oregon Trail could continue their journey only by floating their wagons down the treacherous Columbia. The rapids have since been submerged by the backwater of The Dalles Dam. A marker in City Park at 6th and Union streets commemorates the area where the overland route of the Oregon Trail ended 1843-46.
Much of The Dalles' past lingers in its many 19th-century homes and churches and in its museums. Scenic drives include a section of Historic Highway 30 between Mosier and The Dalles, and scenic I-84 bordering the Columbia from Troutdale to Boardman.
The Dalles' dry, sunny weather lends to it being a popular destination for cycling, geocaching, hiking and mountain biking. These and other recreational activities are available at nearby Deschutes River State Recreation Area, where white-water rafting and fishing also are popular. The Columbia at The Dalles is a favorite area for sailboarding and fishing.
Visitor InfoThe Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce 404 W. 2nd St. THE DALLES, OR 97058. Phone:(541)296-2231 or (800)255-3385
Self-guiding toursMaps detailing a 45- to 60-minute self-guiding walking tour through historic downtown and residential areas are available from the chamber of commerce. The chamber also offers information about the talking murals that are located throughout the downtown area and provide a narrated glimpse into the area's history.
Things to SeeColumbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum