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Waterfall Corridor Improved Access

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Efficient, reliable, safe. 

New in summer 2022! Timed Use Permits for federal lands adjacent the Waterfall Corridor.

Permits are now available online 2 weeks prior to your visit date. 

Reserve your permit on Recreation.gov 


Plan ahead for your visit to the Waterfall Corridor and Multnomah Falls. 

Between May 24 and Sept. 5, 2022, a Timed Use Permit will be required for each personal vehicle accessing federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) to Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). 

Waterfall Corridor permits will be available online for a $2 transaction fee and in person for a limited amount of same-day permits (no fee) at the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale and Cascade Locks Historical Museum.  

In addition to the Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permits, the USFS reinstated Multnomah Falls Timed Use Permits for visitors using the Exit 31 parking lot during the same time period. Both permits are available on Recreation.gov. The permits are two separate systems and are not interchangeable. 

For more information, view the frequently asked questions section below. 

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Which permit is right for my visit?

The permit you need depends on your plans for your visit. If you only want to visit Multnomah Falls by personal vehicle, use I-84 Exit 31 with a Multnomah Falls I-84 Timed Use Permit.
If you want to use your personal vehicle to recreate at the federal lands along the Waterfall Corridor (such as Horsetail Falls and Wahkeena Falls), use a Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permit. You can visit Multnomah Falls from the Waterfall Corridor permit area, but parking is limited. 

If needed for your plans, you can reserve both permits. We recommend staggering the time slots so you have time to enjoy your visit without missing your next time slot.

Consider visiting by bike, transit or tour! Only personal vehicles need a permit.

When you take public transit or join a tour, you skip the congestion, you don’t need to find parking and you do not need a permit. 

A great way to visit the Waterfall Corridor is to take the Columbia Area Transit (CAT) bus from Gateway Transit Center in the Portland Metro Area (every 30 minutes), Cascade Locks, and Hood River directly to Multnomah Falls. Tickets are available online, including yearly passes.

To visit by tour, you can drive to the private tour provider parking lots. Use Exit 22 for the Gray Line Waterfall Trolley. For the Sasquatch Shuttle, use Bridal Veil Exit 28. Several private tour providers also serve the Waterfall Corridor. 

Visitation is lower on weekday mornings and on cooler, rainy days. Weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day see the highest visitation, and summer weekend days between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are generally the busiest. Visiting at off-peak times can reduce the stress of finding parking. It also means you will find fewer people at popular viewpoints, trailheads and waterfalls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a permi​​t? 

All personal vehicles using the Waterfall Corridor to access the federal lands will need a Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permit between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) to Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35) from May 24 to Sept. 5, 2022. If you’re traveling by bike, tour bus or by transit, no permit is needed. Angel’s Rest Trailhead and Bridal Veil State Scenic Viewpoint are not within the permit area. See more information about visiting Multnomah Falls only below. 

Getting your permit 

Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permits will be available online at www.recreation​.gov for a $2 transaction fee. There will also be a limited amount of in person same-day permits for no fee. Recre​ation.gov​ will post online permits 2 weeks prior to the visit date. 

How much does a permit cost? 

There will be a $2 transaction fee for permits obtained online. No other costs are associated with the Timed Use Permit. 

How long can I stay? 

If you have a permit, once you arrive during your designated time slot, you can stay as long as you like. Parking is not guaranteed. 

If I arrive before 9 a.m., do I need a permit?

No permit is needed if you arrive to the Waterfall Corridor before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. 

​​​​How does the Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permit system work? What if I miss my window? 

Each permit lists a time slot. Arrive at either end of the Waterfall Corridor at one of two check-in points (just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp at Exit 28 or Exit 35 at Ainsworth State Park) anytime during that time slot. If you arrive after your permit time slot, please consider going by shuttle, public transit or tour instead. Once you arrive, you can stay as long as you like. 

Is this a parking permit? 

This permit allows you to use your personal​ vehicle to access federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor. Oregon State Parks and U.S. Forest Service sites in the Waterfall Corridor do not require parking permits. Parking is not guaranteed anywhere along the Waterfall Corridor. Only park in marked parking spots. Please note: no left turns are allowed into the parking lot at Multnomah Falls along the Historic Columbia River Highway Fridays through Mondays. 

What is a personal vehicle? 

Your personal (or rented) car or motorcycle is a personal vehicle, including vans and pickups. Ride-sharing vehicles such as Uber and Lyft are also considered personal vehicles. Recreational vehicles and trailers are also personal vehicles, but must be less than 35 feet long to safely navigate the winding, narrow highway. 

I have multiple people in my car. How many permits do I need? 

Permits accessing federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor are per vehicle, not per person. You only need one permit per vehicle. 

​Can I purchase more than one permit? 

You only need one permit per vehicle. If your party has multiple vehicles, you can purchase up to two permits​, though parties with multiple vehicles may have trouble finding parking at the same location along the Waterfall Corridor. For multiple trips, you can purchase permits for different days and times up to two weeks in advance. 

What happens if I show up without a permit? Can I reserve a permit last minute? 

All personal vehicles need a permit to access federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) to Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). There are several options for obtaining a permit once you arrive at the Waterfall Corridor: 

  • If permits are still available for the day of your visit, get your permit online. Note that cell service within the corridor can be limited. Please remember to travel with care and do not use your cell phone while driving. 
  • A limited amount of permits will be available for same-day pick up at the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale​ and Cascade Locks Historical Museum​.
  • If permits are not available, consider visiting by shuttle, public transit or tour instead. 

Do I need to print my permit? 

You can show the receipt for your online permit on a mobile device or provide a printed copy. 

Can I visit the whole corridor? 

​Your Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permit allows you to visit federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor and stay as long as you would like. If you leave the Waterfall Corridor area where permits are required outside of your designated time slot, you cannot visit the federal lands again ​without another valid permit.​​​​​​​​

What if I only want to go to Multnomah Falls? 

Visiting​ Multnomah Falls is easy and direct via tour buses and public transit. 

There are two ways to visit​ Multnomah Falls: from the Waterfall Corridor or from I-84 Exit 31. If you only want to visit Multnomah Falls by personal vehicle, use I-84 Exit 31, where a separate permit is required. Note: When the parking lot is full, the gate system closes and vehicles cannot access the parking lot. ​​

To visit Multnomah Falls using Exit 31, a permit is required. Go to Multnomah Falls Timed Use Permits. 

To visit ​​Multnomah Falls and other federal lands along the Waterfall Corridor, a Timed Use Permit is required.​

Why does I-84 Exit 31 n​​eed ​a permit?

A permit is required to access the Multnomah Falls lot off I-84 Exit 31 by personal​​​ vehicle during the same period as the Waterfall Corridor. When the I-84 Exit 31 parking lot is full, the gate system closes and vehicles cannot access the parking lot. It is not unusual for the lot to close early on weekend mornings during the summer. Both permits are needed to address anticipated Multnomah Falls visitation.​

Where will Multnomah Falls Timed Use Permits for Exit 31 be​ checked? 

Staff will check permits at the pedestrian tunnel from the I-84 lot to Multnomah Falls.​

What if someone gets a Timed Use Permit for I-84 and then cannot find parking? Can they use that permit for the Waterfall Corridor?

No, the permits will be two separate systems. The goal for both efforts is to reduce congestion, increase safety and improve the overall visitor experience. We’re using existing data on the number of visitors and length of stays to develop the number of permits for both efforts to increase the likelihood there will be parking spots if you get a permit and show up during your assigned time, both in the I-84 Exit 31 lot and to visit the attractions along the Waterfall Corridor. However, if you are unable to find parking we recommend returning at time when permits ar​e not required (before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.) or taking a shuttle or other transit to ensure you are able to visit and spend time at the destination you would like.​​

Will there be a flagger at the crosswalk across the Historic Highway at Multnomah Falls?

A flagger will direct traffic at the crosswalk at Multnomah Falls Fridays through Mondays. During this time, no left turns are allowed into the parking lot at Multnomah Falls along the Historic Columbia River Highway.​

Do I need a Timed Use Permit if I have a dining reservation at the Multnomah Falls Lodge?

If you have a reservation to eat in the Multnomah Falls Lodge, you can show your dining reservation in place of a Timed Use Permit. 


Why is this program beginning in now? 

Congestion caused by attractions along the Waterfall Corridor means emergency vehicles can’t respond quickly. It also means visitors are stuck in traffic waiting for parking spaces to open. The Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permit will reduce congestion by spreading visitation to these popular federal lands throughout the day, reducing the number of vehicles on the corridor at one time competing for access to these popular sites. This will allow emergency responders to arrive on scene promptly and reduce time visitors spend sitting in traffic. The goal is to provide a safe, more reliable, enjoyable experience for visitors within the corridor. We will assess if the pilot was successful and determine its future after its completion in September 2022. 

What are the benefits of taking transit or a shuttle? 

Shuttles, public transit, and other tour providers allow you to sit back, relax and enjoy the view without the hassle of looking for parking. You can hop-on/off at each attraction, and you won’t have to worry about finding parking or navigating the winding, narrow corridor with few shoulders and opportunities to turn around. 

Can we add more parking? 

T​he Columbia River Gorge was designated a National Scenic Area in 1986. The designation helps protect and provide for the enhancement of the scenic, cultural, recreational and natural resources of the Gorge. There are rules that limit development, including the size and number of parking lots. Expanding parking areas would detract from the scenery that makes the Gorge so special. 

If you can stay as long as you want, how is that going to reduce congestion? 

The number of hourly permits is​ based on previously collected data including length of stay by “attraction” along the Waterfall Corridor and the number of parking spaces. We have data on how long visitors generally spend in the corridor and will be releasing an appropriate number of hourly permits to keep a consistent amount of visitors in the corridor. We will be monitoring this system continually and adjusting during the pilot to address as we learn more about visitation. ​​​

​View Travel Oregon's Guide​ to visiting car-free for more information on transit, tours and bikes (including ebikes). 

​How much do tours cost?​​

Gray L​ine Waterfall Trolley tours begin at $21​ per person for all day hop on and off service at one of the nine stops for some sightseeing, exploring or a hike.

Sasquatch Shuttle pricing begins at $15 per person for all day shuttle service with on and off privileges.

Where can I find more information on transit service in the Gorge?

Columbia Area Transit provides bus service to the Gorge! Stops include Gateway Transit Center, Troutdale, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and Hood River. ​

​How do I go by bike?

Depending on how far you want to ride, you can bike to the Waterfall Corridor or take transit with your bike close to where you want to start your ride. View a bike map. There are limited places outside of and within the Waterfall Corridor to park and begin your ride, such as the Toothrock Trailhead or Bridge of the Gods Trailhead to the east.

Columbia Area Transit's buses run every 30 minutes from the Gateway Transit Center in Portland and from Hood River seven days a week with stops in Troutdale, Cascade Locks and at Multnomah Falls. CAT buses are equipped with three bike racks. Once bike racks are full, no more bicycles can be accommodated.  ​​
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Do people who live or work within the permit area need a Waterfall Corridor Timed Use permit? 

People living or working within the Waterfall Corridor​ do not need a Timed Use Permit. ​If you need to visit a residence or business a Timed Use Permit is not needed, see more information​. 

How will permits be checked? ​​

Between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department staff will be at the two check-in points just east of the Bridal Veil off-ramp (Exit 28) and Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). Once you check-in, you do not need to display your permit. Come during your permit time, stay as long as you would like. Permits will not be checked when leaving the corridor. 

How will permit check-in points work?

In advance of each check-in point, we will use road signs to help inform travelers. At each permit check-in, staff will be present between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Staff will check for a physical or digital permit. Staff will not be distributing permits at check-in points. If you are coming to visit the the federal lands adjacent to the Waterfall Corridor, including Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Tunnel and Horsetail Falls, but don't have a permit, you will need to turn around and explore other attractions within the Gorge​. We anticipate having a handout available with information on options if visitors do not have permits. 

How many in-person pick up permits will be distributed? 

There will be a small number (around 10 percent) of the hourly permits available to pick up at the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale and Cascade Locks Historical Museum. 

How will the transcation fee be used? 

The $2 fee associated with obtaining a permit online is a transaction fee. It covers the cost of using an online system. The fee does not generate revenue for things such as road or park maintenance. 

Are permits on weekdays necessary? 

Crowding occurs throughout the week in the Waterfall Corridor. Requiring permits seven days a week will reduce​ confusion. 

Do I need a Waterfall Corridor Timed Use Permit if I’m camping at Ainsworth State Park? 

During your stay at Ainsworth State Park, a valid camping receipt serves as your permit for the Waterfall Corridor. You will need to display on the dash of your vehicle a printed copy of your reservation receipt or a registration envelope (completed at check-in for those who arrive without a reservation). ​

How can I travel from Portland to Hood River?

There are no permits needed to travel I-84.  You only need a permit to use the Multnomah Falls parking lot at Exit 31, or if you plan to use your personal vehicle to recreate on federal forest lands adjacent to the Historic Columbia River Highway between Ainsworth State Park and Bridal Veil.

Go by bus with Columbia Area Transit​.​​

How will emergency response be handled? 

We will be working closely with our emergency service provider partners. Previously, response times were delayed due to the extreme congestion in the Waterfall Corridor. One of the goals of this pilot is to reduce congestion and improve emergency services’ ability to respond. ​Emergency service vehicles are permitted through check-in points. ​​​​


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Contact

Katelyn Jackson
ODOT Community Affairs
503-731-8503

Terra Lingley
ODOT Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator
503-731-8232