PORTLAND, OR -- A new permit system launches Tuesday in the Columbia River Gorge, which coud bring spontaneous visits to Multnomah Falls and the Waterfall Corridor to an end.
Summer daytime visitors in personal vehicles now need a permit to drive the Historic Columbia River Highway, between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park (see map below). Karen Davis, with the US Forest Service, says it’s necessary to alleviate overcrowding during peak times, "We see it as a security problem, and also just a lack of quality of a visit issue that we wanted to see if we could solve that and make it a better experience and a much safer experience."
During the pilot period, up to 60 personal vehicles and motorcycles will be allowed each hour, between 9 am and 6 pm, May 24 through September 5. The timing aligns with a similar permit system already in place at the Multnomah Falls parking lot. "If you wanted to do both - go see Multnomah Falls and park in that big parking lot right off I-84, that’s one permit. But if you also wanted to drive on the historic highway to get a closer look at all those highways, you would need that second permit."
Each permit is for entry during a one-hour window, but you can stay as long as you like. Permits are available online and can be reserved up to two weeks in advance. There is a $2 transaction fee.
Davis says visitors can avoid the permit requirement by arriving before 9 am or after 6 pm, taking public transit or a tour bus, ride a bike, or wait to visit until after Labor Day.