Cascade Locks is one of the oldest towns on the Columbia River. It’s nestled adjacent to a section of river that Lewis and Clark called the ‘great rapids of the Cascades.’ This stretch included more than two miles of dangerous rapids and made many pioneers stop here. A small settlement developed on the banks of the river in the early 1850’s and helped travelers portage the rapids. It evolved through the years, starting foot by foot, then mule-drawn rail cars, steam engines and finally river boats.
Cascade Locks was home to the first steam engine west of the Mississippi River, named the Oregon Pony. Built in 1862, it carried passengers and freight through the rapids. The U.S. Government created a navigation lock system to allow safer passage along this stretch of the river. The Locks were completed in 1896, creating Cascade Locks, or ‘the heart of the Gorge.’
Completion of the Bonneville Dam in 1938 further tamed the Columbia River and created a river at the foot of Cascade Locks. Rich in history, Cascade Locks has done an exceptional job preserving their gorgeous surroundings. A trip to the Gorge makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, no skyscrapers or huge parking lots, just its spectacular natural backdrop.
It’s an easy drive from PDX airport to Cascade Locks. Approximately 40.3 miles west from the airport, expect a 45 minute drive. Though it takes about 45 minutes to get there from Portland, it won’t feel like it with views of Multnomah Falls, Crown Vista House and the Columbia River, the drive goes fast.
From the airport to Marine Park
Get on I-205 South for 3.1 miles.
Follow I-84 to Cascade Locks for 36.4 miles and take Exit 44.
Continue on Cascade Locks Highway/US 30/Wa Na Pa St. for .7 miles
Turn left at SW Portage rd.
Arrive at Marine Park.
Click here for race start and finish location
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Historic Columbia River Highway
Bridge of the Gods