New website is latest piece in the carfree Columbia Gorge puzzle

Posted by on April 9th, 2018 at 11:37 am

As the Portland region grows, so too has the popularity of the Columbia River Gorge. That’s a good thing; but not if too many people visit it by car.

Thankfully, Oregon’s tourism and transportation agencies understand this. Two summers ago, faced with congestion and overflowing parking lots, the Department of Transportation launched the Columbia Gorge Express bus service to encourage people to experience the Gorge without a car. That’s been such a huge success they’ve upgraded service and features each year.

Now comes another piece of the puzzle: ColumbiaGorgeCarfree.com, a website funded in part by a grant from Travel Oregon.

The site (still partly under construction) features carfree itineraries for popular Gorge destinations. As of now, there’s a turn-by-turn guide to hiking the popular Dog Mountain trail without a car. The itinerary comes with a detailed map and is based on biking and walking the four miles from Cascade Locks to the West End Transit (WET) shuttle bus stop on the Washington side of the river. If you can wait until May 25th, the Columbia Gorge Express will carry you and your bike from the Gateway Transit Center in east Portland to Cascade Locks.

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There’s also a very helpful page that lists all the buses and transit options that serve the Gorge.

This new website is the work of Heidi Beirle and a, “geeky team of transportation professionals.” Beirle is a carfree tourism consultant who also works with the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce.

If you’re keen on going to the Gorge carfree this season, keep this website handy. And if you want to make bus service to the Gorge even better, please take the latest Columbia Gorge Express survey.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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10 Comments
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    SD April 9, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    It would be cool if they could link this to Dog Mountain hiking permits e.g. restricting the number of permits offered to car drivers.

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      Solution Finder April 9, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      It’s already restricted by the available space for parking cars. Mostly what the bus accomplishes is causing people to drive around and around in circles looking for a car to leave a parking space so they can grab it.
      I’ll just go during the week when there are fewer cars so you can park. Best photographs are taken around sunset – bus doesn’t work if you come down after dark.

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      Kate April 10, 2018 at 11:01 am

      I think I recall hearing that they are linked. As in, if you take the bus you get a permit by default. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong….

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        SD April 10, 2018 at 1:53 pm

        I read that the passes are linked to bus tickets. I was also wondering if during peak times when the number of people wanting access exceeds the number of permits available, the permits for non-car hikers could be prioritized.

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    9watts April 9, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    Totally nifty. This kind of work is a key piece in weaning ourselves from the auto. So much of the carfree options and logistics arise out of sight of most of us, and the tragedy is that if you own a car there is very little reason to explore the alternatives, suspect they might already exist. As long as they remain out of sight they remain underutilized and in turn may fade out of existence again, unmourned.

    And thanks also to bikeportland for alerting us.

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    Jason H April 9, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Great new option for planning a car-less trip to the Gorge. Have you heard any word on when full access to at least the paved HCRH and trail in the burn area will be opened?

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    Mark Nelsen April 9, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    This past weekend someone from the Trails Club told me that most of the western Gorge trails (west of Bonneville) will likely be closed the entire summer; they need the warm season to fix them up.

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    Pete April 10, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Also note that it looks like Columbia Area Transit (CAT) added Wednesday to their usual Tuesday and Thursday route from The Dalles to Gateway MAX, and they’re a great option to get around while out here (plan in advance).

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      Pete April 12, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Best kept secret… and yes, they can fit bikes:
      https://catransit.org/index.php/portland-fixed-route

      They are looking for ridership so spread the word (just save me a seat!).

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        9watts April 13, 2018 at 6:29 am

        Looks promising, but like the occasional county bus schedule this one is hard to read, and where is the Eastbound schedule?!

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