PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – If you traveled through the scenic Waterfall Corridor during the summer, the U.S. Forest Service wants to hear from you.
It’s seeking input after its first year requiring permits to visit this 18-mile stretch of the Columbia River Gorge.
The new Timed Use Permit system went into effect on May 24 and continues until Sept. 5. Anyone driving in a personal vehicle between the Bridal Veil off-ramp on Interstate 84 (Exit 28) and Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35) is required to reserve a permit for a certain amount of visitation time.
The permits are available to purchase for a $2 transaction fee at Recreation.gov.
The Forest Service said 2022 was a pilot year for the project and the goal was to reduce congestion and increase safety in the area. Officials also hoped the permits would improve the overall visitor experience.
When the pilot concludes in September, the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon State Parks and the Oregon Department of Transportation will examine several factors, including public comments, to determine if the pilot met its goals.
Anyone interested in providing feedback can do so by completing an online survey.
Participants can rate their overall experience, describe how congested the corridor was, how crowded the parking lots were and how long they stayed for. They can list how many sites they visited and how they found out about the Waterfall Corridor permit.
It also asks people if they’d recommend continuing the Waterfall Corridor timed permit program in the future.
“At this time, we don’t know what the future holds for timed use permits in this area,” said Karen Davis, public affairs officer for the U.S. Forest Service Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. “The analysis this fall will help partners determine next steps in addressing congestion and improving safety and the visitor experience along the Waterfall Corridor.”
There are still options for people to visit the Waterfall Corridor without a permit. Visitors can take Columbia Area Transit from the Gateway Transit Center in Portland, from Cascade Locks and from Hood River. They could also take a tour with the Sasquatch Shuttle and Gray Line Waterfall Trolley, which both service the Waterfall Corridor.