On July 24, 2017, Travel Oregon issued the following email message to industry regarding efforts to address congestion in the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area:
Dear Industry Partners,
Summer is here and, once again, we are working with our partners in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to help enhance the visitor experience by making it fun and safe while keeping the area as beautiful as it’s always been. Here’s where you come in. The visitor depends on you to provide the information they need in order to have the best trip possible.
The Gorge receives approximately 2 million visitors annually, with the vast majority visiting on weekends and during the summer. Visitation often exceeds automobile capacity along the Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH), leaving little to no room in parking areas at popular destinations. In fact, in 2015, the gate closing the Multnomah Falls I-84 parking lot was activated 934 times on 118 separate days.
With its success as a premier visitor destination comes the responsibility to help manage the related congestion resulting from the large numbers of visitors in a way that preserves the integrity and values of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area. In November 2015, Governor Kate Brown selected Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) and Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel to share leadership in an Oregon Solutions program, Columbia River Highway Collaborative, to tackle safety and congestion issues in the Gorge. Travel Oregon is one of many organizations, including the Oregon Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service, asked to join the collaborative. As stated above, we need you to help make a visit to the Gorge the best it can be.
Here are some ways you can engage with visitors and make their visit a better one, while also making the Gorge a better place for residents:
- Read and utilize the key messages document developed by Weinstein PR, in collaboration with Oregon Solutions partners; use the tips within the plan to engage with visitors and residents.
- Use the Ready, Set, Gorge! toolkit for sample photos, website and social media content to help spread the word.
- Encourage visitors to take the Columbia Gorge Express, the shuttle service from Portland’s Gateway Transit Center to Rooster Rock and Multnomah Falls. This service began last year and ridership has been phenomenal.
- Spread the word – please feel free to share our press releasewith community partners.
As a key stakeholder in the preservation of the Columbia River Gorge and as someone working day-to-day with visitors, we would love to hear how you are using these tools. We welcome your ideas for ways we can help empower you and others to enhance the visitor experience in the Gorge.