What Is It Like to Live in Washougal, Washington? Everything You Should Know

Are you considering a move to Washougal, Washington? Since it’s a small town, people often know your face, even if they’re unsure of the name. Residents love the familiarity and comfort of the small-town lifestyle, but the space is welcoming enough. Let’s learn more about what it’s like to live here!

History of Washougal, Washington

Lewis and Clark passed through the city twice on their expedition and stopped at Cottonwood Beach to cure meat, hunt, and gather provisions.

No one knows the origin of the city’s name, but it’s believed to mean “rushing water” in Native American terms. Early explorers referred to its prairie as Washougally Camp.

During the next decades, trappers, explorers, and traders camped on the banks near what’s known as Washougal. In the 1840s, early pioneers chose land, claiming it and taking possession of these areas when the Donation Land Claims Act got passed in 1850.

These early settlers sold off portions of the estates in 1880 to create a town. Roughly one-half mile upstream, businesses opened in 1887, such as a hotel, carpenter shop, and general store.

Washougal didn’t get incorporated until 1908. Its local economy at the time focused on paper mill manufacturing, logging, and dairy farming. Then, 1910 saw the Washougal Woolen Mill open, and it’s been a huge local employer ever since.

The Location of Washougal

Washougal balances small-town living with big-city amenities. Though it’s rural, it is considered the “gateway to the Columbia River Gorge” because of where it sits.

Country living and great views don’t mean you have to ignore the finer things of life. Portland is close by and features a vibrant music and arts scene. Likewise, a short drive will have you watching movies at the Cineplex or dining out at a beautiful restaurant. Across the river, you’ll find big box and major department stores, as well.

Downtown Washougal

The population of Washougal saw an increase of 60 percent between 1999 and 2009. That’s an accelerated clip when you compare it to other parts of Clark County. Therefore, the city created a comprehensive plan to revitalize the space and attract new businesses.

Overall, the Two Rivers Heritage Museum is there to show you the collections of artifacts, hand tools, and textiles of the past. You can also get a free art map to self-guide yourself through an art tour. There are more than 30 installations of murals, sculptures, dugout canoes, and stained glasses to explore!

The Community


Reflection Plaza is a great place to visit in Downtown Washougal. It features shade trees, public artwork, and picnic benches. Enjoy the water fountains from the tower in the center, and even bring your dogs to play around and have fun.


Entrepreneurs love the growth of Washougal because they have opened new restaurants that offer culinary variety. You’ll find the casual staples, such as beer and burgers, but there are also sushi establishments, home-style brunches, and more.

Craft beer is the standard option for bars and restaurants, but Washougal offers taprooms and pubs. Coffee lovers don’t have to travel to Portland for a good cup, as there are many cafes in the area, as well.

Exploring Washougal – Final Thoughts

People find themselves moving to Washougal for many reasons, such as a new start, a job change, or to experience the quiet neighborhoods and small-town vibe it offers.

Residents love the beautiful views and the charm that downtown Washougal has to offer. There are plenty of amenities and restaurants to stay self-contained, though you can always venture to Portland or Vancouver for extensive entertainment options and large shopping trips.

If you enjoy the outdoors, Washougal is likely the best place to live. Come for a visit and decide to set down roots in this beautiful city!


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