BY: JOSIAH DEAN
Often when you check in you have a harried, glazed look on your face. Happy to arrive, yet road weary even after the short, breathtaking drive through the Columbia River Gorge.
We understand, it took a lot to get here. Not everybody gets to come to Dufur. But you might wonder “What we can Dufur you?”, now that you’ve gotten here.
Naturally, you can lounge around in a hammock out back. We’ve got books, magazines and games you can borrow. That’s a favorite past time. And speaking of Pastime, there’s visiting the cowboy bar across the street, (now the Dufur Roadhouse). Friendly local charm, for real.
There’s a lovely walk down around the City Park, along the creek and then meander back through town. (don’t forget to peek in the windows, there are surprises for you!) And the Dufur Living History Museum is now open!! You can wander through displays of old pioneer stuff. Pretty enlightening. (Wow, that’s 4 things already, whew!)
Waterfalls, Hikes and Vistas!
If you’re more adventurous, you might want to get out and hike or bike to explore waterfalls, and scenic vistas. (First, fill your water bottle and grab a lunch at the Balch, Kramer’s or We3. You’ll be glad you did, as options are few where you’re headed.) Then drive or cycle to one of our 3 faves:
Just 20 minutes south, outside of the sleepy burgh of Tygh Valley is White River Falls, a multi-level waterfall you can practically drive or bike right up to. This state park has a flat paved walkway and picnic area. Amazing views abound. For the adventuresome we encourage the scrambly hike down to the power station and river. History buffs will want to know that it’s the original power generation from back in the day when the Balch and Sunshine Mill in the Dalles (now a fab winery) shared power 50/50. The only electricity in the county, one line for 12 hours each. On your way to the bottom of this windy, rocky trail, you’ll pass numerous lower falls. The trail continues miles, all the way to the Deschutes, but it’s pretty perilous and not advised. Lots of swimming and wading spots along the way though. (No pass or fee!)
If you didn’t catch lunch before, Molly B’s Diner back in Tygh Valley is a café/luncheonette out of another era. And check out the old school General Store for snacks or gas. From the falls, continue down Hwy 216 to Sherar’s Falls, a native fishing site on the Deschutes River. You might even want to bike this, as it’s part of a 33 mile scenic bikeway loop! Cross the bridge and take a right on the Deschutes River access Road to wind along the river up to Maupin. (Maybe pop in for a snack or cool drink at the Riverside—the deck overlooks the river—unless you’re saving yourself for dinner at the Balch.) Expect high desert beauty with spectacular broad vistas revealing Mts. Hood and Adams, as you wind from Maupin back to the Balch on Hwy 197.
If seeing waterfalls are your thing, the next day go to Tamanawas Falls. Drive or bike up FS 44 towards Mt Hood. (It’s paved all the way.) At Highway 35, head north (right) a few miles. There’s a big parking area, and midday weekends, lots of cars. Don’t be deterred, though, this is totally worth it. Picture a cool shaded walk along a babbling creek, great wooded spots for breaks and selfies. The waterfall is spectacular. It’s about 3 ½ miles of hiking round trip after about an hour driving through dense forest. It’s lovely. (There’s a $5 day fee or a NW Forest Pass. You can buy it in the parking lot or get a yearly pass here.)
Another Adventurous Option
In that same direction is Lookout Mountain. Drive or bike up FS 44 from Dufur towards Mt Hood. (It’s paved all the way to Hwy 35 on the other end.) Take a left on 4410, following a map to Lookout Mountain Trail. Elevation is gaining, so it’s cooler here on hot days. (Secret side trip: drive a few miles, then take the first right and drive a bit more to an expansive pullout/overlook with a full frontal of Mount Hood and the whole valley. It’s a great spot for a picnic.) Continue further up FS 4410 to the parking lot and High Prairie Trailhead. It may have a few cars, but hikers/bikers are few. It’s a fairly flat easy hike (3 miles round trip?) with luscious sights, to a peak with 360 views of Three Sisters, Washington and Jefferson to the South and Mt St Helens and Rainier to the North. It’s a big wow spot that’s more driving than walking. (You’ll need a NW Forest Pass. You may be able to buy it at Kramer’s or the Forest Service in Dufur, or get a yearly pass here) Check trail conditions, as there is still snow there now.
For more detailed information (especially if mountain biking is your thing,) check out 44Trails.org, a non-profit group that maintains trails accessed from FS 44. You can get a ton of information here.
Regardless of which escapade you chose, after that big day of adventure, head on back to the Balch, and finally have a spa treatment! (See below for a Secret Insider Offer.) Or perhaps chillax on the warm yet breezy patio, the umbrellas shading you just right, and your beer/wine chilled to perfection. For dinner, the specials the ladies are cooking up are enticing. We’ve been upleveling the restaurant, and now take reservations, so you can plan to have dinner here.
That’s at least 7 Things That We Can Dufur You. Which will be your pleasure? Let us know your favorite activities around here. With Summer starting…what are your plans for Independence Day? If you’re looking for a quiet spot to explore from (no fireworks to speak of) consider staying a few days with us. Call for reservations: 541.467.2277.
If you’re looking for something a little more structured to recharge and replenish, see what adventures and retreats might suit you later this Fall, HERE.
We’d be remiss in sharing our news! We converted 2 private rooms into guestrooms. We now have 20 cozy rooms with views of the patio, garden or mountain. And locally sourced dinner, wine, beer and a spa/wellness sessions waiting for you.
See you here soon,
Claire & Josiah for Team Balch