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Tour de Fred
June 15, 2019 @ 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
Only the curious need apply for the Tour de Fred
Ever been curious about what it is like to see the Columbia River Gorge from the other side of the river? Your chance to do just that is right around the corner.
On June 15th, the 2019 Tour de Fred will take you — and your ultimate driving machine — through sleepy hamlets, past an 850-foot-high volcanic plug, as well as a massive hydroelectric project, and onward, all while offering great views of Oregon from the Washington side of the Gorge, before turning inland along the Klickitat River toward Mount Adams, then looping back along the White Salmon River toward the Gorge. Along the way, you will pass breathtaking viewpoints, take on a series of tunnels, and lean into the curves of the road. In addition to the lovely Columbia River Gorge, canyons, wildflower-covered mountain meadows, and higher-elevation forests await. And there will be a couple of opportunities to catch your breath and take a selfie or two with your beloved vehicle (as well as take a bathroom break and purchase a snack) along the way.
The drive will begin at the Gateway to the Gorge: Washougal, Wash. To get there, take either the Interstate 5 or 205 bridge across the Columbia and head east along SR 14, also called the Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway. We will meet at 8:30am in the Starbucks parking lot at 291 C St. #102 in Washougal. There will be a MANDATORY Drivers’ Meeting before we head out on the Tour. (Please note: You will need to pre register to attend AND all drivers must be BMW CCA current members to participate).
From Washougal, the Tour will head east. About 10 miles into the drive is Cape Horn, a basalt cliff outcropping that is great for a small group to pull over for the gorgeous (pun intended) view. About 9 miles farther is Beacon Rock State Park, which is named for the famed 850-foot-high basalt volcanic plug. Then, it is onward past the Washington side of Bonneville Locks and Dam, a massive U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project, and the Bridge of the Gods, a toll bridge that spans the Columbia between Skamania County, Wash., and Cascade Locks, Ore. In another 20 miles, past a series of small lakes, where locals and visitors alike try their hand at hooking the big one, are a series of not one, not two, not three, but five tunnels carved into the mighty cliffs of the Gorge, before stopping at the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery for a bathroom break and to watch area windsurfers and kiteboarders catch a wave.
After about a 15-minute break, it’s back on the road for another 20 miles or so before the Tour turns inland along the Klickitat River along Highway 142. As the Tour continues inland, the center stripe in the road disappears, as the road opens up to canyons and higher-and-dryer mountain meadows. Cellphone service is spotty here, so be sure to your beloved Bavarian Motor Works machine is in top condition before taking this drive; this would be a bad place to break down.
About 80 miles into the Tour de Fred, the drive turns west toward Mount Adams. On a clear day, the mountain looms ahead on the road, occasionally ducking behind a stand of higher-elevation trees before coming once again into view. In 13 miles farther, there is a place to stop, take in the Klickitat River Valley, and take a selfie with Mount Adams before we get back on the road toward Glenwood, where there is a general store that offers a public restroom and a place to pick up a snack and something to drink.
Just outside Glenwood, the Tour turns southwest, running through forested areas and past farms and wetlands along the White Salmon River. At BZ Corner, the Tour turns south as it heads back toward the Gorge. At the fork in the road in Hasam, we’ll take the downhill turnoff to Highway 141 Alt to head back toward SR 14 to Underwood to end the approximately three-hour tour.
At this point, you can turn west, back toward Vancouver and Portland, or turn east, covering a little bit of familiar ground, to get to the Hood River (Oregon) toll bridge to get back to Interstate 84 — bring along $2 if you want to get across the river here — and have lunch in Hood River, or head back home along I-84. Either way, the drive and the views along the Tour are going to be spectacular.]
So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the Tour de Fred today!
Please note: You will need to pre register to attend AND all drivers must be BMW CCA current members to participate).
Here are the details:
* Time/date: June 15th at 8:30am for Mandatory Drivers’ Meeting & Route map handout
* Where: Starbucks parking lot, 291 C St. #102, Washougal, WA.
* Bring: Lunch, unless you’re going to stop in Hood River, OR, or in one of the many eateries on the way back home *after* the tour concludes. $2 if you plan to cross the Hood River toll bridge to come back to Oregon. If you choose to cross at the Bridge of the Gods near Cascade Locks, OR, the toll is also $2. If you want to skip tolls completely, take SR 14 back to Interstate 5 or 205 and cross the Columbia River there.
* Total driving time: about 3 hours.
- Fred Krieger