May 24, 2018
Chris Havel, OPRD, 503-931-2590
Don Hamilton, ODOT, 503-704-7452
Rachel Pawlitz, USFS, 541-308-1744
Some Columbia Gorge sites
remain closed in fire aftermath
Clear skies and the three-day Memorial Day weekend will bring visitors to the Columbia River Gorge, but the public needs to respect the closed areas where significant hazards remain.
With the holiday approaching, the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and ODOT remind hikers, bikers and visitors that areas remain closed due to significant dangers, including rockfall, landslides, and trees weakened by last fall’s Eagle Creek Fire.
All three agencies are working to re-open facilities still closed by the fire.
Six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway have been closed since last Sept. 4, two days after the start of the fire. The section of road from Bridal Veil to Ainsworth is still barraged daily by falling rock and trees, which can fall without warning. In a three-week period in April, ODOT crews cleared more than enough debris from the closed road to fill 100 dump trucks.
In addition, the Historic Highway State Trail remains closed for about five miles between John B. Yeon State Park and Cascade Locks. ODOT hopes to re-open this section by late summer.
With the Historic Highway and the Historic Highway State Trail closed in sections, the remaining route for Gorge cyclists on the Oregon side is the narrow shoulder of I-84 from Bridal Veil to Hood River. Roadwork is occurring on I-84 in the Gorge and cyclists should use extreme caution and follow all posted detour signs.
Visitors must obey signs and barricades blocking entry to closed roads, trails and campgrounds. Local search and rescue teams are still called to rescue hikers who ignore barricades and venture into these closed and dangerous areas. U.S. Forest Service officers police have issued about 120 citations for trespassing in closed areas.
Here are some tips for limiting hassles on your Gorge trip.
- Take the Columbia Gorge Express. It begins its third season Friday from the Gateway Transit Center and now goes all the way to Hood River.
- Go early and avoid peak times. Weekend and holiday afternoons are busiest.
- Check com. See if the Multnomah Falls parking lot is open before you leave home.
- Go midweek. Things run at a little slower pace Tuesdays through Thursdays.
- Be aware and watch out! When visiting the Gorge, be aware of your surroundings and watch for falling debris.
Most National Forest System lands impacted by Eagle Creek Fire remain closed—including the area south of I-84 up to the southern boundary of the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, from the Mt. Defiance Trail to Alex Barr Road and Thompson Mill Road. Please check the closure map before heading out. Obey all closure signs and barriers.
In newly opened areas and in any backcountry environment, hikers should wear sturdy footwear and bring sufficient supplies to survive overnight (food, water, headlamps, extra clothing and shelter). For more tips on safe recreation and ideas for more hiking and biking destinations in the Columbia River Gorge, visit ReadySetGorge.com.
For a full list of Eagle Creek Fire closures and more details about response efforts, visit bit.ly/eaglecreekfireresponse
The following Oregon State Parks facilities in the Gorge are open.
- Dabney State Recreation Area
- Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area
- Rooster Rock State Park
- Portland Women’s Forum Viewpoint
- Crown Point Vista House
- Latourell Falls
- Guy Talbot State Park
- Bridal Veil Falls State Scenic Viewpoint
- Dalton Point State Recreation Site
- Ainsworth State Park Campground
- Viento State Park and Campground
- Starvation Creek State Park (one mile hike/walk to three waterfalls)
- Wygant State Natural Area.
The Gorge remains an Oregon jewel and workers appreciate patience from the public as the fire recovery continues.