As the tour winds along the north bank of the Columbia River between Maryhill Junction and Johnson’s Landing, it passes through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. State parks have been developed around many of the key sites along the gorge and include Maryhill State Park, Columbia Hills Historical State Park, Doug’s Beach State Park, Beacon Rock State Park, and Reed Island State Park. Each presents an opportunity to pull off the highway and explore the area.
The important role of the Columbia River for as habitat and travel corridor for wildlife is evident in the vast array of wildlife refuges along the gorge. These protect the natural environment to sustain wildlife populations and the natural beauty of the gorge. These include the Pierce National Wildlife Refuge, Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, and the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer.