Hood River (originally called Dog River) post office was established (named by Mary Coe) at the site of the present city on September 30, 1858, and the city itself was incorporated in 1895. Originally, the city was part of Wasco County, but it became the seat of Hood River County when the county was first established in 1908.
Hood River is at the confluence of the Hood River and the Columbia River in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. The city is about 30 miles (48 km) north of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in the state. It is across the Columbia River from White Salmon, Washington. South of the city is the Hood River Valley, known for its production of apples, pears, and cherries.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.35 square miles (8.68 km2), of which, 2.55 square miles (6.60 km2) is land and 0.80 square miles (2.07 km2) is water.
Located at the transition zone between wet temperate rainforest to the west, and dry shrub-steppe desert to the east, Hood River has a moderate climate with rainy winters and warm summers, although rainfall there is somewhat less than Portland and other nearby areas in the Willamette Valley. Hood River averages around 30 inches (760 mm) of precipitation a year, while Cascade Locks, 20 miles (32 km) west, receives over 75 inches (1,900 mm), and The Dalles, 20 miles (32 km) east, less than 15 inches (380 mm). The area is known for its consistently high winds channeling down the Columbia River Gorge.
Temperatures for the year as a whole are slightly cooler than most other low-elevation towns in the region, especially at night due to air drainage off the surrounding mountains. As a rule of thumb, Hood River temperatures are similar to those of Portland in the summer, but more like The Dalles in the winter.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,167 people, 2,972 households, and 1,728 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,810.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,085.2/km2). There were 3,473 housing units at an average density of 1,362.0 per square mile (525.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was:
There were 2,972 households of which 33.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.9% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.12.
The median age in the city was 36.3 years. 25.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 30.6% were from 25 to 44; 23.5% were from 45 to 64; and 12.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.9% male and 52.1% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,831 people, 2,429 households, and 1,442 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,839.4 people per square mile (1,098.2 per km²). There were 2,645 housing units at an average density of 1,288.0 per square mile (498.2 per km²). The racial makeup of the city was:
There were 2,429 households out of which 32.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city, the population was spread out with:
The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,580, and the median income for a family was $35,568. Males had a median income of $31,583 versus $24,764 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,609. About 12.1% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.7% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.
Hood River's economy has traditionally been based on three industries: agriculture, tourism, and sports recreation, but since the late 1990s, high-tech industries, such as aerospace engineering (e.g. Insitu and Hood Technologies), have become some of the largest employers. Long an agricultural center of the Pacific Northwest, Hood River historically was a hub of logging exports and fruit tree orchards. While lumber was the primary export for Hood River throughout most of its history, with the advent of forest protection measures such as the establishment of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Hood River has exchanged most of its former tree cutting agricultural ways to focus more heavily on its apple and pear orchards as well as many wineries. Many of these local orchards and wineries, including Hood River-based The Fruit Company, are featured on Hood River's renowned "Fruit Loop".
Hood River first experienced a boom in tourism after being discovered as a site for world-class windsurfing, and more recently kiteboarding. Hood River County also has some of the best kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, and hiking areas in the United States.
Situated in the Columbia Gorge, and surrounded by fields, orchards, vineyards, and at the foot of Mount Hood, Hood River is a popular tourist destination.
All of these factors have led to positive news coverage in publications such as National Geographic Adventure, Sunset, Outside, Backpacker, Smithsonian, the New York Times travel section, and others. Hood River has received numerous awards from national magazines, such as "coolest small town" to "fifth best ski-town in America". Most recently, Hood River was featured on CNN as one of "11 great riverfront towns" in the United States.
Other industries in the city include Hood River Distillers, the Encore Consumer Capital owned Full Sail Brewing Company, a major Oregon microbrewery, the clothing and sports equipment manufacturer DaKine, and vegetarian food manufacturer Turtle Island Foods, producer of Tofurky. The Hood River Valley is also home to more than a dozen wineries.
Annual cultural events include the Hood River Valley Blossom Festival, which takes place in April, the Hood River Hops Fest, and the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest, both in October. FoodandWine.com identified the Harvest Fest as one of the Best Harvest Festivals in 2012. The annual Gorge Games, aired on Fox Sports in August, feature professional competitions in ten sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, outrigger canoeing, and rock climbing. Hood River hosted the US Windsurfing National Championships in 2009 and the Mount Hood Cycling Classic from 2002 to 2013.
Hood River is home to the History Museum of Hood River County, the International Museum of Carousel Art, and the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM). Hood River has over two dozen sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Columbia Gorge Hotel, built in 1920 by Portland timber baron and Columbia Gorge booster Simon Benson. The oldest house in the city is the Ezra L. Smith home, which he built in 1886 for his family. Smith was influential in state politics, in Oregon agricultural development, in Hood River city administration, and in banking. Many farmers and businessmen came to his home seeking advice. The house later served as a funeral home for over 40 years and is now the site of wine production and tastings for Stoltz Vineyards.
Hood River is the western gateway to the Mount Hood Scenic Byway and to a major section of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Hood River is considered a "sports mecca" and offers some of the best spots for windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, skiing and mountain biking—all for which it draws considerable national attention from many media outlets, such as National Geographic Adventure. The Port Commission has built a protected harbor for learning windsurfing called "The Hook". The city also features the family and wind-sport friendly Waterfront Park, a public pool, skate park, biking trails, and several small public parks and ball fields. The valley is also home to two 18-hole golf courses.
Public primary and secondary schools in Hood River are part of the Hood River County School District. The city is also served by an extension campus of Columbia Gorge Community College, based in The Dalles. Horizon Christian School is a private school serving grades kindergarten through twelfth grade (K–12). Horizon competes at the 1A level of the Oregon School Activities Association, while the public Hood River Valley High School competes at the 5A level. The city also is home to the small Mid-Columbia Adventist School.
The Hood River News is a semi-weekly paper published by Eagle Newspapers on Wednesday and Saturday.
Two locally published magazines serve the area, Columbia Gorge Magazine and The Gorge Magazine are both monthly magazines featuring recreation, dining, shopping, weddings, architecture, arts and entertainment taking place in the Columbia Gorge area (primarily Hood River, The Dalles, and Troutdale).
Hood River has one airport, the Ken Jernstedt Airfield: it has no scheduled airlines and light general aviation use. However, Portland International Airport is a one-hour drive west of Hood River.
Interstate 84 and Oregon Route 35 pass through Hood River.
Hood River is the northern terminus of the Mount Hood Railroad, a heritage railway that offers passenger excursions as well as shipping a small amount of freight. Union Pacific Railroad provides freight service to the city.
Hood River receives national bus service from Greyhound Lines. Columbia Area Transit provides three buses to The Dalles every weekday, and a round trip service to Portland on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Port of Hood River, founded in 1933, manages a public marina and waterfront economic development projects. The port commission also manages the airport and the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge.
Water and wastewater treatment are supplied by the City of Hood River. Natural gas is provided by NW Natural and electricity comes from PacifiCorp.
Hood River has one hospital, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.