A unique working landscape of public and private lands, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a world-renowned destination as well as a place that many people call home. Due to the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead and prepare adequately when taking any trip outside your own neighborhood.
Increased visitation puts increased pressure on the communities of the Gorge, which have limited resources. If you can postpone your trip, please consider doing so. The trails and other attractions in the Gorge will be waiting for you when it’s safe to travel. If you do decide to visit the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, please help keep communities safe by following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health guidelines.
Ready, Set, GOrge! is an initiative aimed at improving the visitor experience in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It’s a collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Travel Oregon, Oregon Department of Transportation and the Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance. New for summer 2020, visitors can visit ReadySetGorge.com to find an interactive map that includes all the recreation sites in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The map shows which ones areas are open and which ones are closed. Emily Reed, Director of the Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance (and a resident of Mosier, Oregon), has remained dedicated to working with local agencies to ensure the map is up-to-date and accurate. Have suggestions? Contact her at Emily@ColumbiaGorgeTourismAlliance.org.
Before leaving home, visit ReadySetGorge.com where you’ll find an interactive and updated map of trails, things to consider when choosing a trail, a list of travel resources, and much more. As we enter the height of the summer season, the following tips can help you prepare and take care while you are visiting the Gorge:
- Many parks and trails throughout the Columbia River Gorge region remain closed. Others have limited parking capacity. Please always have a Plan B in case your destination is closed or too crowded.
- When recreating on trails, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other hikers and bikers. Crowds lead to closures. The communities of the Gorge could decide to close local trails if people cannot maintain 6 feet of distance.
- Be self-sufficient with all your supplies in case the communities you are visiting have shortages. State health authorities recommend bringing soap, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and a mask or facial covering to shield your noses/mouth.
- If you are headed out on trails, bring outdoor essentials and plan your route accordingly to minimize the need for a rescue, as this can burden first responders and increase the chance of exposure to the virus for yourself and others.
- Be extremely cautious during wildfire season and adhere to burn bans. It’s much drier than it looks. Any spark can create a wildfire.
- Check with the local chamber of commerce about travel restrictions (go here for links). Respect any closures that remain in place.
- Respect the requests of local businesses. Always wear a mask or face covering, and maintain 6 feet of distance when indoors.
- World Health Organization: Cornavirus Disease Travel Advice
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Disease
- Travel Oregon: COVID-19 Travel Information
- Washington State: Coronavirus Response
Becky Brun is a freelance writer and owner of Pitchfork Communications, living in Hood River. She’s an avid trail runner, mountain biker, skier and gardener who loves chasing adventures as much as she loves her downtime.
Photo of East Wind Drive-In sign in Cascade Locks, Oregon, by Cate Hotchkiss.