Area braces for increased tourism

Fire closures in Oregon mean more tourists on Washington side of Columbia River Gorge

— Communities in the Columbia River Gorge are bracing for a heavier-than-normal tourism season due to last year’s Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon.

Because most of the trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River remain closed, state officials believe there will be an influx of tourists on the Washington side of the river.

Dalles Mountain Ranch, a hiking area in Columbia Hills Historical State Park near Dallesport, is expected to be among the affected areas with hikers venturing onto the 8-mile route through fields of lupine, balsamroot and Indian paintbrush, officials said.

The increased visitor traffic could also affect traffic along state Highway 14 from Paterson to Vancouver, officials said.

Vehicle parked along the highway may be towed, as it’s illegal to park along the narrow highway, official said.

Because of the increased traffic, technical rock climbing remains closed at Beacon Rock, except for the west face and Stone Soup route. The closure will limit tourism effects on peregrine falcon nesting, officials said.

State parks officials said there is “ample” parking available at Horsethief Lake, but not at trailheads.

Beacon Rock, the Doetsch day-use area and Columbia Hills recreation areas have limited parking available, officials said, noting the Dog Mountain, Hamilton Mountain and River to Rock trails do, as well.

Officials are recommending hikers also consider going to Brooks Memorial State Park or Klickitat State Park Trail instead of using Gorge trails.


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