| THE LURE
If you’re looking for non-stop, world-class recreation, then the Gorge is a safe bet. For
intermediate to expert kiters, this place delivers with cranking winds that oppose the current of the mighty Columbia, creating large, smooth swells just right for ripping big turns and boosting huge air in places. If the wind ever stops blowing, take advantage of the other incredible mountain sports and activities that this area offers. This isn't some expensive, glitzy resort scene though, it's relatively cheap and just full of outdoor enthusiasts, all enjoying the 'Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area'.
The Gorge provides a wide range of kiting conditions that are best suited to intermediate riders and above. Although it's okay for beginners it's not ideal with the current that runs down the river, but if you have some skills the riding here is phenomenal. The Sandbar right in town dominates the Gorge kite scene. The huge sandbar is ideal for launching and from there take-off upwind for swell riding and huge jumps, or head downwind for the flat water wake scene. Besides Hood River itself there are many unreal kite spots up and down the river, offering a wide range of conditions. The overriding feature of all of these spots is wind – and lots of it!
WIND WATER AND WEATHER
Locals will kite primarily from April to October, in either westerly or easterly winds, but for out of town visitors, May to September is the primary season for reliable kitsurfing conditions. (Locals also enjoy insane snowboarding in the winter, and have been known to snowboard and kitesurf all in one day). If you like being powered up on little kites, this is your place. Leave the 15s at home; the guys here spend most of their time on sevens and nines while the girls are often hanging on to sixes and smaller! The water temperatures vary dramatically. The winters are cold and as the snow on the mountain melts in the spring, there's only one way it's going – into the river! In the early spring the water is 10°C / 50°F, warming to 21°C / 70°F in the summer. A shortie wetsuit is plenty, with some tough guys riding in just boardies. Summer days are spent in boardies, T-shirts and flip flops. In the evenings, you will occasionally need a hoodie.
The scenery and activity options here are incredible, so hiring a car is essential. If you stick to the main spot in Hood River, you are literally going to be kiting in the centre of town.
Hood River itself has all you could need, with loads of excellent hotels, B&Bs condos and houses available, most within walking distance of the shops and restaurants.
FOOD AND DRINK
This isn't just a tourist town, but has a vibrant local community, so all conveniences are onhand, from markets offering local, fresh organic fruits and vegetables to restaurants and bars serving fresh fish, organic meats and excellent local wines. There is also a lively bar scene with live bands playing regularly.
There are several award-winning brew-pubs in Hood River, where $3 will get you a pint of really good beer.
The only thing to be careful of as a tourist around here are the high winds!
If the wind ever stops blowing, you can take advantage of the incredible mountain and road biking, white-water kayaking, hiking, golf, wine-tasting, wonderful parkland and an excellent public pool for
families with kids.
Portland airport (PDX) is a beautiful hour's drive away.
BIG WINDS was established in 1987 and has grown into one of the largest kiteboarding and windsurfing shops in North America. Located right in the heart of downtown Hood River, they have a huge showroom packed with the latest highperformance kites and boards from Cabrinha, North and Naish, along with an incredible range of accessories. Shipping anywhere in the world, the 35 members of staff are all knowledgeable and friendly athletes.
+1 888 509 4210 /
541 386 6086