As parts of Gorge reopen, officials warn area ‘still in recovery, still adjusting’

Waterfall spots, narrow trails, camping sites remain closed; public urged to avoid crowding reopened recreation areas

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The boat launch at Beacon Rock State Park in Skamania County has reopened, but most parts of the park, including narrow trails leading to the top of Beacon Rock, remain closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Parks)

Although a limited number of Columbia River Gorge trails and day-use sites have reopened, most waterfall viewing areas, campgrounds and visitors centers remain closed to help stem the spread of COVID-19.  

“The Gorge is getting ready for visitors, but the region is still in recovery and is still adjusting and putting new measures in place,” stated a joint press release from Skamania County and city of Stevenson officials and county first responders sent to media today. “Community leaders ask that you give them time before visiting, as the Gorge is still in transition.” 

Skamania County agencies are following the guidance of Centers for Disease Control and state health authorities in the phased reopening of recreation and day-use areas within the Gorge. 

“Decisions are made in the interest of protecting the health of the public as well as local communities and agency employees,” the press release states, adding that, if unsafe crowding does occur, the reopened sites may close again. 

The Skamania County agencies said the public “should expect fewer available trails, activities and services through the summer.” 

Most waterfalls in the Gorge, including Multnomah Falls and most of the falls in the “Waterfall Corridor” on the Oregon side, remain closed. 

Several narrow hiking trails, including Dog Mountain and Beacon Rock Trail — as well as trails in the post-Eagle Creek Fire area — also remain closed. 

Sites that have reopened include:

* Limited parts of Beacon Rock State Park, including the Doetsch Day Use Area, Hamilton Mountain trailhead, the equestrian trailhead and the boat launch in Skamania County; 

* Doug’s Beach and Columbia Hills State Park, which includes Horsethief Butte, Horsethief Lake, Dalles Mountain Ranch and Crawford Oaks in Washington’s Klickitat County; 

* Government Island, Dabney, Sandy River State Park, the Portland’s Women’s Forum, Rooster Rock, Dalton Point, Wyeth, Starvation Creek, Viento, Wygant, Vinzenz Lausmann, Seneca Fouts, Post Canyon Senecca Fouts – Seven Streams and Mayor State Park on the Oregon side of the Gorge; and 

* The  United States Forest Service is opening Balfour-Klickitat, Bonneville Trailhead, Bridge of the Gods Trailhead and the Pacific Crest Trail, Catherine Creek Recreation Area, Herman Creek Trailhead, Larch Mountain Recreation Area, Lyle Trailhead and the Klickitat Trail, Sams Walker, and St. Cloud Day Use Area.

For more information about the Gorge reopening and to see which recreation sites are open, visit