More than 3 million people visit the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area annually. As it becomes increasingly popular, we all have an obligation to help ensure that future visitors to the Columbia River Gorge can experience the same scenic beauty and world-class trails that we’re able to enjoy today. Take steps to help protect the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area so that future visitors can enjoy it, too.
1. Protect vital habitat by using only authorized trails and campsites.
- Step aside when you encounter other users on the trail to avoid widening the trail.
- Follow good trail etiquette:
- Motorized users always yield (pull over) to non-motorized users.
- Hikers, runners and mountain bikers should always yield (step aside) to horses.
- Mountain bikers should always yield (step aside) to hikers and runners.
- Downhill traffic should yield (step aside) to uphill traffic.
2. Leave no trace by packing out your trash and picking up litter you find.
- Carry a trash bag and pick up any litter you find.
- If you pack a lunch or snacks, hold onto wrappers and other garbage (including food waste). Dispose of it at trailhead garbage cans.
- If you have recyclable materials, deposit them in appropriate containers.
3. Stop the spread of invasive species by using a boot brush, available at many trailheads.
Noxious weeds are overly aggressive and difficult to manage, and can be carriers or hosts of serious insects or diseases. In most cases, noxious weeds have a direct, negative impact on native plants. Historically, humans have been the chief vector (transmitter) of noxious plants. The U.S. Forest Service, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Skamania County Weed Board have installed boot brushes at numerous trailheads around the Gorge. Please check them out and use them before and after using the trail. Learn more.
4. Protect wildlife by keeping dogs on leash and picking up their waste.
- Most trails within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area require that dogs be on a six-foot leash at all times when in developed recreation areas and on interpretive trails. If leashes are required, trail signs will say so.
- Dog waste can spread disease to wild animals and contaminate water. Picking up dog waste is common courtesy to campers, picnickers and hikers.
5. Be courteous. Don't block parking spots or private driveways, and don't park in unauthorized spaces.
- Please be mindful of local landowners. Parking in private driveways is considered trespassing. If you park illegally, you might get a ticket or your car might be towed.
- When parking in designated parking lots, please be sure to park between the painted lines. Otherwise, you might take up two parking spots.
6. Reduce carbon emissions and congestion by carpooling, taking a shuttle or biking.
- Take a car-free trip by arranging to take one of many public-private shuttles. Learn more.
- Explore the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway and State Trail by bicycle. Learn more.
7. Respect local cultures, practices and resources.
- Resist taking anything with you (rocks, memorabilia, plants, etc.).
- Consider hiring a guide to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the region.
- Research local customs, social norms, and environmental issues before you arrive, especially when visiting tribal resource areas.
8. Help Gorge businesses prosper by shopping locally.
- Each of the 13 communities in the Columbia River Gorge have their own unique character and an eclectic mix of stores, galleries, hotels, restaurants, breweries, wineries, parks, museums and more. Find travel ideas and planning tools for the Columbia River Gorge at visitcolumbiarivergorge.com.
- To learn more about the benefits of shopping locally and find out how to get deals with local, sustainable businesses, visit gorgeowned.org/local.
9. Donate time and skills to local nonprofits and agencies.
Many local nonprofits host volunteer work parties and events to help you learn more about the environmental issues facing the region. Here’s a sampling:
- Cape Horn Conservancy
- Columbia Riverkeeper
- Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association
- Crag Rats
- Friends of the Columbia Gorge
- Hood River Area Trail Stewards
- Klickitat Trail Conservancy
- Mount Hood National Forest – Route 44 Trail Crew
- Pacific Crest Trail Association
- Portland Mountain Rescue
- Trailkeepers of Oregon
- Washington Trails Association
10. Support maintenance and conservation efforts by paying usage fees.
Recreation usage fees help pay to manage services at parks and trailheads throughout the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
- Remember to bring cash or check to pay usage fees.
- Go here for information about which fees are required at different locations.