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Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 5000 Discovery Dr, The Dalles, OR 97058-9755
Phone Number:
+1 541-296-8600
09:00 - 17:00
Closed now
See all hours
Sun - Sat 09:00 - 17:00

The 48,200 sq. ft. facility won an American Institute of Architects Honor...

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.

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US$ 211.11*
and up
Private Tour: Columbia River Gorge Day Trip from Portland
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 292 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 187
  • 86
    Very good
  • 15
  • 3
  • 1
A gem of a history museum, actually two

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is actually a two-fer, with a Columbia Gorge wing covering the natural and cultural history of the Columbia Gorge, and the Wasco Co... read more

Reviewed 3 days ago
Lloyd D
White Salmon, Washington, United States
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292 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveller rating
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Showing 292: English reviews
White Salmon, Washington, United States
Level Contributor
28 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is actually a two-fer, with a Columbia Gorge wing covering the natural and cultural history of the Columbia Gorge, and the Wasco Co. Museum in the opposite wing. Dioramas and tableaus galore tell those stories while regular special exhibits grace the expansive central hall. The hall features a long, polished rock map of... More 

Thank Lloyd D
Vancouver, Washington
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW via mobile

The Discovery Center offers a thorough history of the Columbia River Gorge for The Dalles area. I was surprised at the be facts learned dispute living in the Pacific Northwest for 26 years.

Thank lauradoingitright
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

I took my special needs students there to explore. We had such a fun time. It seemed like our visit was too short. We spent hours inside and ran out of time to explore the outside of the center. Next time I plan on bringing sack lunches and giving the kids more time to explore.

Thank Tracey C
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 1 week ago NEW via mobile

This beautiful centered amazingly informative. It presents so much information on so many levels that the whole family will enjoy it. You pick how much you want to know. The kids will love it! There are many interactive exhibits and lots of things designed with families in mind. The architecture of the building alone is worth the visit. Also there... More 

Thank A TripAdvisor Member
Level Contributor
71 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

This museum is much larger than it looks and has a ton of historical artifacts to learn about. We did not plan to visit this museum but noticed the signage on the freeway as we were passing through. We arrived 30 min before closing and were allowed to check it out free of charge as the crew was getting ready... More 

Thank Stephanie S
Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Level Contributor
29 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 weeks ago

This attraction is tucked just off of I84 in The Dalles. Once you find how to access it from the Interstate, you get to explore two museums in one building. The Discovery Center comprises most of the exhibits. They have a hands on area for those who like to get their hands on items while they explore; mostly old clothing... More 

Thank Michael T
Silver Spring, Maryland
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 16 April 2017 via mobile

Excellent presentations on the geology, culture, and history of this area. The movie/video presentations on river geology, and making acorn mush were excellent. History of Dalles Chinatown was fascinating.

Thank Rbrt_J
Vancouver, Washington
Level Contributor
172 reviews
55 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 April 2017

This is a relatively small museum depicting the geologic history of the Columbia River Gorge and the evolution of human inhabitants in the area over the centuries from the ice-age to permanent Euro-American settlement. The Dalles was a critical area for cross-cultural trade East-West and North-South.

Thank kumtux
Saskatoon, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviewed 21 March 2017

A beautiful spot, great buildings, exhibits very well done. It was a rainy day and we were too wet to walk around more waterfalls. So we opted for the Discovery Centre and we were surprised and pleased.

Thank Liamsnanna
The Dalles, Oregon
Level Contributor
3 reviews
Reviewed 23 February 2017 via mobile

Interesting tour of local history of the gorge. Enough hands on displays for kids. Worth the stop if going through The Dalles.

Thank mltippett

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