It’s no secret that the Columbia River Gorge has some of the best and most beautiful hiking in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also no secret that’s no secret — crowds have been on the rise in the area east of Portland for quite some time, and the extra onslaught of outdoor activity triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic boosted those numbers even higher. Now, to control crowds and ensure the delicate ecosystem still in recovery from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire has a fighting chance, a new timed-entry permit system has debuted in the Columbia River Gorge.
As part of a pilot program, the new permits will limit entry along the Historic Columbia River Highway (US-30) between the I-84 exit 28 on the west and exit 35 on the east end, roughly covering the areas from just east of Angel’s Rest and Bridal Veil Falls through Ainsworth State Park. Permits will be required for all vehicles traveling on US-30 between these areas, and visitors will be required to show digital or physical proof of their permits at either end of the historic highway. Once inside, visitors can stay as long as they want, although a permit does not necessarily guarantee a parking space at a particular trailhead or viewpoint. These permits do not cover any additional entry or concession fees.
When Do I Need A Permit and How Much Does It Cost?
Permits will be required between May 24, 2022 and September 5, 2022 from 9AM through 6PM every day. Permits will go on sale at 7AM two weeks before available dates, and will cost $2 per vehicle. This fee covers the cost of maintaining the program and covering transaction fees through Recreation.gov. There will also be a small number of free permits available day-of at the Cascade Locks Historical Museum and the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale.
Anyone entering this area on foot, via bicycle, a private tour, or public transportation will not need a permit.
A separate permit is available for the parking area at Multnomah Falls.
Hikes near the area include Multnomah Falls (naturally) as well as Wahkeena Falls, Triple Falls, Oneonta Gorge (which is still closed), and many others.
What If I Can’t Get A Permit?
If you can’t snag a permit for your desired day, you still have options for getting into the Scenic Waterfall Corridor. The Columbia Gorge Express shuttles between Hood River and the Gateway Transit Center in Portland on I-84 and drops you off at Multnomah Falls. If you wanted to be dropped off at a different waterfall or trailhead, the Sasquatch Shuttle and Gray Line offer more granular options for a slightly higher fee.
The Scenic Waterfall Corridor permit area follows the permit system for Dog Mountain that started in 2018. The Multnomah Falls timed entry permits were introduced in 2020. In 2021, the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit system was established to control crowd size and wilderness use in Central Oregon, and underwent some significant changes in 2022 once they got a better idea of how people were using the system.
Get Your Columbia River Gorge Permits Here
- Permits for the Scenic Waterfall Corridor
- Permits for Multnomah Falls (I-84)
- Permits for Dog Mountain