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Phased Reopening After the Eagle Creek Fire


**The Historic Columbia River Highway is now open between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park. This section of highway has been closed since the Eagle Creek Fire. Visit TripCheck.com for current road conditions. Winter weather may force closures of the Historic Highway. 

ODOT reduced formal and informal parking spots where additional hazards are anticipated. Vehicles violating restrictions or blocking driveways will be towed. 

The U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department are also opening facilities. Visit the U.S. Forest Service website and Ready, Set, GOrge to see what’s open.**

About

This past summer, ODOT considered opening the Historic Highway in a one-way configuration for a short-term demonstration project, which we called the phased reopening. Westbound vehicular traffic would have been restricted between Ainsworth State Park, and just west of Wahkeena Falls. When the Historic Highway reopens after fire recovery work is complete, it will be in a two-way motor vehicle configuration. 

We may pursue a limited duration one-way configuration in 2019. Additional information on the one-way will be available as we get closer to spring 2019.

During the one-way configuration, motor vehicles will only be able to travel east on the Historic Highway. People walking and biking can share the westbound travel lane. 
Overview map for web.jpg 
(Click to enlarge)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you only opening to eastbound vehicle traffic at first? 

Most cars travel east from Portland on the Historic Highway, which is why we are maintaining eastbound travel. Currently there is no dedicated space for people walking and biking, although many people walk in narrow shoulders or in vehicle lanes on a typical day. 

The phased reopening provides space for pedestrians and cyclists for a limited time. The phased reopening allows additional space for emergency service providers, and reduces conflicts with stopped traffic to improve response times. 

ODOT, Oregon State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and other government agencies are studying safety and congestion on the Historic Highway. Restricting vehicle travel to one direction is a potential solution from our Congestion and Transportation Safety Plan. 

Multnomah Falls is a top tourist destination in Oregon, with two million visitors annually. Crowded conditions lead to safety concerns and user frustration. We want travelers to be able to safely experience the Historic Highway and the scenic vistas along it. 

Will the westbound lane be closed for vehicles permanently? 

No. This is a limited-duration project. The Historic Highway has been closed for more than a year, which provides a unique opportunity to reopen and try an option to ease congestion and improve safety. 

We will collect traffic, parking and user data and analyze how limiting motor vehicles to eastbound travel only impacts congestion and safety.  
If data show improved safety and reduced congestion during the phased reopening, we will study a longer-term project. 

Driving to Multnomah Falls

  • Take the Columbia Gorge Express from Portland, Rooster Rock, Cascade Locks or Hood River. 
  • Take I-84 east or west to Exit 31 and park in the I-84 lot. Parking fills up quickly and the lot closes when full. Go early or go midweek​ for reduced crowds. 
  • Take the Historic Columbia River Highway. From the east, take I-84 Exit 28. From the west, take Exit 22 and return east on the Historic Highway  directly or continue to I-84 Exit 28. 
  • Follow all signs as the phased reopening has temporarily changed how the Historic Highway functions. 
  • Finding parking can be difficult. Only park in designated areas and respect business and residential driveways.

Walking & biking to Multnomah Falls

  • Cyclists can ride on the Historic Highway (sharing the highway with vehicles) from Troutdale to Multnomah Falls (nearly 20 miles one-way) or from Vista House or Portland Women’s Forum (about 12 miles one-way).
  • Take the Columbia Gorge Express (limited bike racks available).
  • Join a bus or bike tour. 
  • Drive to the Columbia Gorge and park in a nearby parking lot (Wahkeena Falls, Angel’s Rest and Bridal Veil) and use the dedicated lane to walk or ride to Multnomah Falls. Parking is limited. Go early or midweek.

Where can I park?

  • The Historic Highway was created to bring you to the wonders of the Columbia Gorge. You can experience the breathtaking vistas while driving along it. If you must stop, know parking is limited and demand exceeds available spaces in the Columbia Gorge. 
  • Go early or go midweek for best results. There are parking lots at I-84 Exit 31, and along the Historic Columbia River Highway at Bridal Veil, Latourell Falls, Angel’s Rest, Wahkeena Falls, and Multnomah Falls. Oneonta and Horsetail Falls remain closed with no parking available. 
  • Only park in designated areas and respect business and residential driveways. Some parking is not available because of falling rocks after the Eagle Creek Fire and associated trail closures.

How can I go car free in the Columbia Gorge?

  • Take public transit to the Gorge. The Columbia Gorge Express offers bus service from Gateway Transit Center in Portland to Rooster Rock, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and Hood River. 
  • Plan car-free trips to the Columbia Gorge (Multnomah Falls and beyond) using the resources on www.columbiagorgecarfree.com.


Walk or Bike in the left or westbound lane. Drive eastbound.

How do I share the highway with other users during the phased reopening?

Watch for emergency service vehicles. In emergencies, these vehicles may use the same lane dedicated for people walking and biking. Vehicles and pedestrians must move over to the shoulder to let emergency vehicles pass. 

Cyclists may share the eastbound lane with motorized vehicles. Cyclists can use the dedicated lane to travel in either direction, but must yield to people walking and limit speeds.  

Drivers should obey the 25 mph speed limit and must watch for cyclists in the lane and pedestrians crossing the highway.

Pedestrians should use the designated crosswalk at Multnomah Falls and use caution when crossing the vehicle lane at any location. Walk single file to leave room for others.


​Are areas still closed after the Eagle Creek Fire?

Yes. Some areas remain closed. The Historic Highway between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth State Park is closed with no timeline for reopening. 

Visit gorgefriends.org/findahike or www.fs.fed.us/eaglecreek​ to find an open adventure.

Although some trails that were damaged are open, there is fire damage and unstable areas off the beaten path. Stay on marked trails and be aware of your surroundings.

Look up, look down and look around frequently to assess potential hazards.

View a handout with printable frequently asked questions. 

Contact Information

Oregon Department of Transportation, Region1 
123 NW Flanders  
Portland, OR
503-731-8232

Other Historic Highway Pages

Historic Highway Home

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Phased reopening

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