(Image borrowed from the Hood River Kiteboarding Guide Hood River Gorge & Lyle Kiteboarding Guide)
The Gorge is arguably one of the most consistently windy inland features in the US… And Hood River Sandbar is considered the epicentre of kiteboarding in the Gorge.
The season runs May through October here with the peak months being June - September. Prevailing wind direction is from the West but kiting works on east winds as well.
Kiting on the Columbia river has its merits and challenges. The river level fluctuates depending on the time of year - the sandbar is completely submerged in early spring and kiters are required to launch from a smaller field on shore instead. The West flowing river creates a conveyor effect for kiting in West winds when the wind is light, however losing gear and body-dragging may be more complicated for beginner and intermediate kiters due to wind currents. When wind and river current are opposing, a pretty sweet swell can be produced. The washington side of the river - north of the sandbar is navigable waters so you need to look out for shipping and navigation buoys. The river temperature warms up mid-summer.
There’s defined user rules for this site posted on billboards when you get there - make sure you read them before you set-up. A general familiarization of the site can be seen here. Watch out for current and wind shadows - otherwise you’ll learn where they are quite quickly. You can check out this guide for a quick familiarization: Hood River Kiteboarding Guide
On a windy day this place is busy! The kite launch is located at event site at the base of town. Pay parking is required during the peak season. There are shallow waters around the sandbar for learning and beginner kiters when the spring water levels have dropped. The event site does not provide a rescue service.
Winds here can be STRONG, however the site can still produce on some lighter wind days. The wind can get gusty caused by upwind land features depending on wind direction or when the wind is produced by a weather front - don’t leave your kite siting at 12 and be prepared for gusts!
The launch site gives you access to diverse river conditions: the sandbar shallows offer a great location to break out the skimboard; the slider park there also has several features to hit; and further to the west large waves build in Swell City at the mouth of the White Salmon River.
The site does not have a user fee but there is city parking fees at the event site during the peak season.
There is a number of kite schools and stores at the event site as well as up the hill in Hood River. There are a couple food and drink vendors on the waterfront. The site has a washroom facility and a shower and picnic tables.
For the best current weather information check out this website: https://thegorgeismygym.com. Temira is an amateur weather reporter that does it in her free-time so consider sending her a donation if you use the site!