Timed Permit System Coming To Waterfall Corridor

To help reduce congestion, increase safety and improve the overall visitor experience, a new Timed Use Permit will go into effect May 24 for personal vehicles along the Waterfall Corridor in the Columbia River Gorge.

Between May 24 and Sept. 5, 2022, the Timed Use Permit will be required for personal vehicles to access federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., seven days a week, between the Bridal Veil off-ramp (I-84 Exit 28) and Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35).

Multnomah County, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service launched the joint project to create a more reliable, safe, predictable and enjoyable experience for all users visiting trailheads, waterfalls and viewpoints.

Timed Use Permits spread visitation throughout the day, and to days where visitor demand is lower. Fewer vehicles leave more space for people cycling and improves travel times and on-time reliability for shuttle buses. 

“Our community raised concerns about congestion in the Gorge,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann. “The strain on our ecosystem and infrastructure requires an approach that balances sustainability with recreation and tourism. This pilot represents how multiple governmental agencies can come together to develop a solution for our residents and visitors.”

Summer days in the Gorge lead to long vehicle backups, which delay emergency response times, decrease safety and cause frustration for visitors. Between 2011 and 2016 visits to National Forest System lands in the Waterfall Corridor increased 35% with a corresponding increase in traffic.

“This important pilot project would not be possible without all of the managing agencies working together,” said Donna Mickley, forest supervisor for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. “We are committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience at these popular and treasured locations within the Scenic Area.” 

In addition to the Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permits, the USFS will reinstate the Multnomah Falls Timed Use Permits for visitors using the I-84 (Exit 31) parking lot from May 24 through Sept. 5, 2022.

Both Waterfall Corridor and Multnomah Falls Timed Use Permits may be reserved on Recreation.gov starting May 10, 2022.

Visitors going by public transit, bike or shuttle do not need a Timed Use Permit.

Here’s how the Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permit system will work:

  • All personal vehicles using the Waterfall Corridor to access National Forest System lands will need a Timed Use Permit seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) to Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35) from May 24 through Sept. 5, 2022.
  • Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permits will be available online for a $2 transaction fee. Permits will be released approximately two weeks prior to the visit date. There will also be a limited amount of in-person, same-day permits (no fee) at locations such as the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale and the Cascade Locks Historical Museum.
  • Each permit lists a time slot. Arrive at either end of the Waterfall Corridor at one of two check-in points (just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp at Exit 28 or Exit 35 at Ainsworth State Park) anytime during your time slot. Arrive at a check-in point on time. If you arrive after your permit time slot, please consider going by public transit, tour or bike instead. Once you arrive, you can stay as long as you like.
  • Parking is not guaranteed anywhere along the Waterfall Corridor. Only park in marked parking spots.

Here are options for visiting the Waterfall Corridor without a permit:

  • Leave your car at home and take public transit (Columbia Area Transit), including service from Gateway Transit Center in Portland, Cascade Locks, and Hood River.
  • Take a tour: Sasquatch Shuttle and Gray Line Waterfall Trolley service the Waterfall Corridor with hop-on, hop-off shuttles.
  • Get out into that fresh air and ride your bike along the route.
  • Modify the timing of your trip to before or after the permit times and peak visitation (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
  • Plan your visit to the Waterfall Corridor prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day, when there is less visitation demand.

After Sept. 5, 2022, partner agencies will review how the Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permits pilot project addressed safety, congestion and visitor experience and consider future steps. 

Source: ODOT

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