If word that Washington State Parks were just days away from reopening had you dusting off your hiking boots and eyeing trail maps, don't even think about making a run for the state border and heading for the Gorge.
Yes, it's true that our northern neighbor will allow the public to access some popular recreation areas starting Tuesday, May 5—but that does not include any properties in the Columbia River Gorge, including Beacon Rock, Columbia Hills Historic State Park and Maryhill.
The restrictions stand for the state's beaches, as well. The Oregonian first reported on the parks system decision.
The agency says the Gorge is still off limits while it works with Oregon and other natural resource agencies to determine appropriate timing for reopening those areas—many of which saw crowded trailheads before Gov. Kate Brown's order directing Oregonians to stay at home in late March to halt the spread of COVID-19. A number of those routes also feature small scenic endpoints, where keeping a safe distance is nearly impossible.
When throngs of people continued to flock to waterfalls, landmarks and trails along the scenic stretch of land, the U.S. Forest Service closed every attraction from the Sandy River Delta in Troutdale to the mouth of the Deschutes River east of The Dalles. At this point, there is no reopening timeline.
Before rushing out to any of the more than 100 sites reopening across the Columbia, consider: Washington State Parks is asking people to stay close to home, check to make sure the spot you intend to visit is actually open, bring your own handwashing supplies, turn around if a place looks too crowded, and stay at least 6 feet apart from others.
There's also no need to pack your camping gear: Overnight stays and beach access are both part of phase two of Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan.