There are few places in the Pacific Northwest more cherished than the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and when the Eagle Creek Fire broke out here in September 2017, first responders and nature-lovers sprang into action.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the fire spread across 48,861 (19,773 hectares) of land before it was fully contained in November 2017. Because the burned area is at increased risk of landslides, downed vegetation and rockfall, some trails remain closed to protect public safety.
Hikers, don’t lose hope! Several recreation areas in the Columbia River Gorge have reopened to the public, including Rooster Rock State Park, Bridal Veil Falls and the Bridge of the Gods, among others. To check the status of which recreation sites are open or closed, visit the National Scenic Area’s website.
As of Aug. 15, 2018:
- Partial: Multnomah Falls – lower viewing platform, lodge and visitor center. (Trails, Benson Bridge and the upper viewing platform remain closed.)
- Partial: Historic Columbia River Highway – from Troutdale to Bridal Veil
- Benson State Recreation Area
- Bridal Veil Falls State Scenic Viewpoint
- Crown Point State Scenic Corridor (Vista House)
- Dabney State Park
- Dalton Point
- Lewis & Clark State Park
- Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint
- Rooster Rock State Park
- Starvation Creek State Park
- All Hood River County parks
As of Aug. 15, 2018:
- Partial: Multnomah Falls – trails, Benson Bridge and upper viewing platform
- Partial: Historic Columbia River Highway – from Bridal Veil to Ainsworth
- Most trails between Troutdale and Wyeth; see Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s trail alerts page for complete info and visit the U.S. Forest Service website to check the status of which recreation sites are open or closed.
Visiting the Gorge
Despite the damage caused by the Eagle Creek fire, the Columbia River Gorge is still a striking, must-see destination. To minimize your impact while maximizing your enjoyment of the gorge, we encourage you to take a guided tour or consider a car-free trip.
Ways to help
Officials are already working to rebuild and repair trails, bridges and signs, and have said little or no human intervention is needed to aid the forest’s natural regeneration process — but there are still plenty of ways to help.
Eagle Creek Fire Restoration Fund
The National Forest Foundation, a non-profit partners to the U.S. Forest Service, has created the Eagle Creek Fire Restoration Fund to help pay for repairing damages caused by the wildfire. All donations are tax-deductible and go toward restoring the Gorge, including reopening hiking trails, restoring wildlife habitat and planting trees.
Shop for the cause
The fire forced many businesses in the Columbia River Gorge to close for several weeks during what is typically their busiest time of the year. They have since reopened for business and could use support as they recover economically. See a list of businesses in Cascade Locks, and a guide to where to shop in Hood River.
For online shoppers, all of the proceeds of MapleXO’s $10 Support the Gorge pin will be donated to wildfire relief efforts. The Oregon state-shaped pins come in black and white or multicolored, and have a tree-shaped cutout in the center. Fun fact: The pins (and all MapleXO accessories) are made from recycled skateboards.
Donate to local nonprofits
When donating to the American Red Cross online, you can designate your donation to the “Local Red Cross.” Additionally, the Friends of the Columbia Gorge offers an FAQ with ways to help, including joining the nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to preserving the Columbia River Gorge.