With a quick and beautiful drive from the Tri-Cities (approximately an hour and a half), a mansion of stunning French architecture — now open to the public as a museum — sits in aristocratic fashion on the cliffs above the Columbia Gorge. Located on the Washington side of the border, the overlook offers awe-inspiring views of the mighty Columbia River. The easiest way to navigate to the manor is to depart from Kennewick, take I-82 toward Umatilla, and turn off at Plymouth, exit 131, to SR-14.
In the early 1900’s, Washington D.C. architects Hornblower and Marshall designed the mansion to be a private residence for Sam Hill, a Northwest road builder an entrepreneur. Construction began in 1914, but upon a visit by Mr. Hill in 1917, the owner decided to finish the home as a public museum that would display American Indian art, French art, and other eclectic collections, largely from Europe. One of the most captivating to my visit was the collection of 300 chess sets representing various countries. For those interested in sculptures and paintings, there are over 75 works of French artist Auguste Rodin housed there. A walk around the meticulous grounds, with abounding views, will not disappoint on a beautiful day. A true hidden gem of Eastern Washington State, the museum’s unique atmosphere is punctuated by its relative isolation.
After exploring the unique collections in the museum, find your way to the 3,000 sq. ft. tasting room and gift shop of the Maryhill Winery. Here you can find mementoes of your trip to Maryhill and taste the many wines of the Columbia River Gorge.
Next, a visit to the Maryhill area is incomplete without stopping at an outdoor museum that is one of the most unique you’ll experience in Washington State. Just at the lower end of the 5,300 acre property and three miles from the museum, lies Sam Hill’s full-sized replica of England’s Stonehenge. The memorial/museum is open to the public and free to visit. It was originally constructed in 1918 as a memorial to the service men of Klickitat County who were killed in service during the First World War. It was eventually completed and re-dedicated in 1929. When Sam Hill died in 1931, his ashes were placed in a crypt not far below the Stonehenge Memorial, still resting there today.
As you drop down the steep highway (US-97) to the Columbia River, Maryhill State Park, bustling with RV’s and tents awaits. It is located below the Maryhill Manor and is just yards from where Lewis and Clark camped on their famous journey west in 1805. During the summer months, the state park is busy with windsurfers, boaters, and people out enjoying the sunny days of Eastern Washington.
Whether you are looking for an afternoon away or an overnight camping trip, you won’t be disappointed with a road trip to Maryhill, Washington.