A network of state and federal agencies is cracking open the door to the Gorge.
Starting today, some trails and day-use areas throughout the scenic strips of land straddling the Columbia River are open for visits—but do not expect to see the major attractions any time soon.
Oregon and Washington State Parks, along with the Forest Service, have lifted restrictions on sites like Rooster Rock State Park, the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead in Cascade Locks, and Larch Mountain for the first time in more than two months following the lockdown on recreation spots to quell the spread of COVID-19.
Landmarks like Multnomah Falls—and the entire waterfall alley—remain indefinitely closed, however, since they draw millions of visitors.
The good news is that you won't be stuck making laps around your block amid Oregon's blissful summer weather, since the phasing in of parks and trails in the Gorge is expected to continue as the months progress.
But getting outdoors will still look a lot different from years past. In general, expect fewer trails, activities and services for the entire season.
State and federal agencies are consulting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to decide which sites to reopen, while trying to provide a variety of options to keep visitors from tangling up at the same few spots.
That means while the coronavirus outbreak is still a threat, hiking routes that are narrow (think Beacon Rock and Dog Mountain) or end at a tiny plateau (Angels Rest) will not allow recreationalists to maintain 6 feet of distance from one another, and are likely to stay off limits. But trails and other spaces that have more room for bodies to spread out—including segments of one of the best cycling routes in the state, the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail—can be reopened.
For now, only plan day trips—camping in the Gorge is still forbidden, though overnight stays at other state parks will resume June 9. Visitor centers also remain closed. And if any parks or trails become too clogged or are deemed unsafe for any reason, the agencies overseeing them have said they will close them off once again.