When recreating, take care of our natural areas.

Why? So that future generations can enjoy them, too.

The Columbia River Gorge is a unique landscape with a fragile ecosystem. More than 3 million people visit the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area annually. As it becomes increasingly popular, we all have an obligation to help ensure that future visitors to the Columbia River Gorge can experience the same scenic beauty and world-class trails that we’re able to enjoy today. Take steps to help protect the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area through some of these actions.

Be mindful of others.

  • Always acquire proper permits and pay the required recreation fees. > Go here for a list of resources.
  • Keep your group size small.
  • Consider bicycling or taking a shuttle to the trailhead to reduce congestion on the roads and fossil fuel emissions > Go here for a list of resources.

Prepare for your trip.

  • Print or download a map of where you plan to go, as cell service may be unreliable.
  • Pack essentials to survive an unexpected night outdoors (find the list at ReadySetGorge.com).
  • Grab cash to pay recreation fees.
  • Plan to arrive early (before 10 a.m.) to avoid crowds.
  • Check the latest road and weather conditions before heading out.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
  • While COVID-19 poses a risk to you and others:
    • When traveling in cars and boats, travel with members of your own household only.
    • Avoid gathering in groups greater than 10 or lingering in parking areas longer than needed.
    • Be self-sufficient with all your supplies in case the communities you are visiting have shortages of supplies.
    • Be prepared for many facilities such as bathrooms, playgrounds and picnic shelters to be closed.
    • State health authorities recommend bringing soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper, as well as a mask or facial covering to shield your noses/mouth.

If you are headed out on trails, bring outdoor essentials such as food, water bottles, illumination, a map, compass, sturdy shoes, and warm clothing layers to minimize the need for a rescue, as this can burden first responders and increase the chance of exposure to the virus for yourself and others.

If bringing your dog:

  • Pack a leash and poop bags.

Take care of natural areas. 

  • Stop the spread of invasive species by using a boot brush, available at many trailheads.
  • Protect nature by staying on official trails.
  • Enjoy what you find, but leave objects of natural beauty behind.
  • Pack out what you pack in, including all food waste.
  • Do not harvest forest products in the National Scenic Area.
  • If hunting or fishing, obtain a state license.
  • Be extremely cautious during wildfire season and adhere to burn bans. It’s much drier than it looks. Any spark can create a wildfire.

While COVID-19 poses a risk to you and others, be prepared for the possibility that restrooms may be closed (you may need to practice Leave No Trace by packing out your own waste as a backpacker would).

Deepen Your Sense of Place

Subscribe to the Hear in the Gorge podcast—stories that will change your sense of place. In this radio-documentary style podcast:

  • Meet Terrie Brigham, of Brigham Fish Market (Cascade Locks) and member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
  • Learn about Minoru “Min” Yasui, the first Oregonian to ever receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Discover why the federal government hired Woody Guthrie, one of America’s best-known protest folk singers, to write 26 songs about the Columbia River.
  • …and much more

Listen on SoundCloud or subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts!