Increased visitation puts increased pressure on the Gorge’s limited resources. If you’re planning a trip to our region, please help keep our communities safe by following CDC and local health guidelines and respecting the requests of individual businesses. Please plan before you go and always have a Plan B in case your destination is too crowded or closed. When recreating on trails, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other hikers and bikers.
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On the Trail
The 3,300-acre Columbia Hills State Historical Park is an ideal family destination, with its famous petroglyphs, diverse hikes, and access to swimming and boating at Horsethief Lake from spring through fall. The 0.5-mile trail is on nearly level ground along the river, with excellent interpretation and storytelling.
From April to October, Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m., the only access to the park’s pictographs and petroglyphs, including the famous Tsagaglalal (She Who Watches) is to take a guided tour. Call 509-439-9032 well in advance to reserve a spot. Other pictographs and petroglyphs removed from nearby locations are viewable without a tour, when the park is open April - October. They’re located along the park road.
Permits & Pets
This property is managed by Washington State Parks. A Discover Pass is required to park. Purchase one in advance. Dogs are not allowed on the petroglyphs trail; in all other parts of the park dogs are required to be leashed at all times.
- A petroglyph is an image incised or scratched into the rock face. A pictograph is a painting on the rock using natural pigments. The art here is estimated to be approximately 350 years old, and features the most famous petroglyph in the Pacific Northwest, Tsagaglalal (She Who Watches).
- Faint outlines of Native American petroglyphs can also be seen on Horsethief Butte, and along the cliffs surrounding Horsethief Lake.
- Along the park road are petroglyphs removed in the 1950s from rock faces that would soon be inundated when The Dalles Dam became operational. They are a small fraction of the rock art that now lies submerged.
- Please always stay on the trail and clean your boots before and after you hike. Hikers and their dogs are common vectors for spreading invasive seeds.
- Restrooms are near the camping and picnic area. Note: This part of the park is closed from late October to April 1.
In summer, rent sit-on-top kayaks at the park and paddle around Horsethief Lake. Its sandy bottom makes it great for swimming.
Or combine a hike at this park with an overnight in nearby Goldendale. At the Goldendale Observatory State Park after dark, peer through powerful telescopes and learn from park rangers, on hand for interpretation of the night sky. It’s about 30 miles away, via SR 14 east to U.S. 97, and then north to Goldendale. The arid climate and lack of light pollution result in superb night-sky-viewing conditions.
Other Hikes at or Near This Trailhead
From U.S. 197 and SR 14, drive 1.6 miles east on SR 14 and turn right onto the Columbia Hills Historical State Park entrance road. Take this all the way to the end, passing the campground and picnic areas (bathrooms located here). Park in the gravel parking area at Temani Pesh-wa Trailhead.