Columbia River Gorge

‘Gorge Express’ bus service returns with major upgrades

by on May 26th, 2017 at 9:35 am

The new and improved buses. You can stow your bike down below and get a $5 ride to the Gorge!

In yet another example of the wondrous potential of bus transit, the State of Oregon is starting up their Columbia Gorge Express service starting today.

The service was launched last year by the Oregon Department of Transportation as a response to congestion and parking problems in the Gorge. Because so many people drove their personal cars to the waterfalls and hiking trails, illegal parking was rampant as the few lots that exist often reached capacity. The Historic Columbia River Highway that connects all the destinations would routinely become packed with people and their cars, making it unsafe and unpleasant for all users.

Almost as soon as the service was offered it proved extremely popular. For $5 round-trip, the mid-sized buses picked people up at the Gateway Transit Center and dropped off at two popular spots in the Gorge. In the 18 weekends it was offered last summer, the service exceeded ODOT’s expectations with over 30,000 riders.

This year ODOT is doubling-down. Yesterday they announced larger buses with more amenitites and a host of other service improvements:

– Bigger buses to accommodate more riders and reduce wait times.
– A new stop location among the bus bays at the Gateway Transit Center, closer to bus and MAX stops.
– A new stop location at Rooster Rock State Park with more seating and shaded areas.
– A staff person at Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls during service hours to smooth operations, answer questions and inform riders when the next bus is due.
– Buses will now accept cash and credit cards, though riders are encouraged to buy tickets online to avoid boarding delays.

We’ve also heard from an ODOT source that the larger buses can accomodate bicycles in the luggage area. Moving blankets will be provided so you can wrap up your bike before stowing it away. Up to three bicycles will be allowed per bus. Last year the buses had a rack that could hold three bikes. It’s likely the luggage area can hold more than three bikes, so — while we wouldn’t count on it — hopefully bus operators will be flexible with the three bike rule. Even if your bike doesn’t fit, there are 12 departures per day. First bus leaves Gateway at 8:45 am and the final bus back to Portland leaves Multnomah Falls at 6:40 pm.

The service begins today and will run through September 24th (including federal holidays).

ODOT says they’re still evaluating the service and it could expand even further next year. In yesterday’s announcement they said the Gorge Express Bus, “could become daily and extend to Hood River with stops at additional Gorge destinations accessible from I-84.”

Check out for more info and start planning your ride today!

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

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ODOT eyes expansion of Gorge bus service after successful first year

by on October 24th, 2016 at 10:31 am

Half of the four-bus fleet.(Photo: ODOT)

Half of the four-bus fleet.
(Photo: ODOT)

Turns out there are other ways to solve auto overcrowding and congestion than spending billions on freeway expansions.

The first season of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Columbia Gorge Express bus service has “far surpassed” expectations, the agency announced this morning. “The public response highlighted a significant demand for transit service in the Gorge.”

Launched in May as a way to relieve serious overcrowding of private cars in the Gorge, the service carried more than 30,000 people between the Gateway Transit Center, Rooster Rock State Park, and Multnomah Falls. The service was offered for 18 weekends and it was the first year of a two-year pilot project. There were initially three, 20-seat buses, with a third, 53-seat bus added in July. All four buses had bicycle racks that ODOT says were “used every day.”
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State completes new section of Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

by on September 21st, 2016 at 9:03 am

The new path is 1.2 miles long and is located between Interstate 84 Exit 54 and 56.(Photo: State of Oregon)

The new path is 1.2 miles long and is located between Interstate 84 Exit 54 and 56.
(Photo: State of Oregon)

The State of Oregon is inching ever closer to re-connecting the Historic Columbia River Highway — an engineering marvel that opened 100 years ago this year but fell into disrepair when Interstate 84 was built.

On Saturday the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and Western Federal Lands will come together to dedicate the latest new piece of the state trail that will eventually connect Troutdale to The Dalles.
[Read more…]

ODOT’s new Columbia Gorge Express bus has already carried thousands of riders

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on June 14th, 2016 at 12:14 pm


“There was a really great energy in the bus,” our contributor Kate Laudermilk wrote about her trip. “I overheard a lot of conversations between complete strangers.”
(Photo: Kiel Johnson)

Three weekends in, the new bus line that offers $5 round trips between Gateway Transit Center, Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls is going gangbusters.

The buses, subsidized in part by the Oregon Department of Transportation, offer 12 departures a day from Friday to Sunday and each one has a rack that carries up to three bicycles.

Conceived as a way to cut congestion on Interstate 84 and take pressure off parking space in the Gorge, the buses carried more than 4,600 rides during their four-day launch weekend, including Memorial Day. Last weekend, the buses carried 1,477 rides.

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Centennial event marks a new era for the Historic Columbia River Highway

by on June 7th, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Historic Columbia River Hwy Centennial Celebration-30.jpg

Bicycle riders pose in front of Multnomah Falls Lodge to mark the centennial of the Historic Columbia River Highway. From left to right: Rob Sadowsky, Jessica Horning, Arthur Tetteh, Mychal Tetteh, Patrick Loftus, Carl Larson, AJ “Jerry” Zelada, Scott Poindexter, Greg Baker, Dick Weber, Jerry Smith, Sheila Lyons, Maggie Trout, Dana Canaday, Craig Beebe, Sandra Hikari, Kristin Dahl, April Streeter, Philip Mascher, Marilyn Harlow, Julia Daser, Isabel Daser.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

“While this highway was built for Model-Ts, its future is meant for cyclists, walkers, and hikers…”
— Barbara Roberts, former Oregon Governor

100 years ago today the State of Oregon dedicated the 73-mile Historic Columbia River Highway. It was a marvel of its time, the nation’s first Scenic Highway, and it was known simply as the “King of Roads.” Its 73-miles of curves and sweeping gorge views from Troutdale to The Dalles were an inspiration to engineers and explorers alike.

Then it was all but forgotten in the 1950s when Interstate 84 bullied its way through the gorge. The new interstate cut off sections of the old highway and it fell into disrepair. In 1987 the state legislature established the Historic Columbia River Highway Advisory Committee and work began in earnest to restore the highway to its former glory.

When it was rededicated today at a Centennial Celebration held at Multnomah Falls, there was one major difference this time around: Instead of automobiles marking the future, they now mark the past.
[Read more…]

Gorge Getaways with Laura Foster: Riding the new Trail of the Gods

by on June 7th, 2016 at 9:29 am

Stevenson waterfront from the Trail of the Gods.

Stevenson waterfront from the Trail of the Gods.

We’re excited to share a post written for BikePortland from local author Laura Foster. Foster is the woman behind many excellent guidebooks including her latest — Columbia Gorge Getaways. The post below is adapted from that book.
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Gal by Bike: My ride on the new Columbia Gorge Express

by on June 1st, 2016 at 8:57 am

My bike and my ride to the Gorge - all ready to roll!(Photos by Kiel Johnson and Kate Laudermilk)

My bike and my ride to the Gorge – all ready to roll!
(Photos by Kiel Johnson and Kate Laudermilk)

Our Gal by Bike columnist Kate Laudermilk was one of the first people to ride the Columbia Gorge Express — a new transit option with service between Portland and Multnomah Falls.

One of the arguments I made as I desperately tried to convince myself that I needed to buy a new car after parting ways with my partner (and our car) four years ago was that I needed a car to fully experience all of the natural wonders surrounding Portland.

I felt like I was going to be trapped in Portland until the end of my days.

Little did I know that, when you don’t have a car, you get creative. You use the old noggin. I no longer feel trapped in any way.
[Read more…]

New Columbia Gorge Express will carry you — and your bike — to Historic Highway destinations

by on May 20th, 2016 at 9:22 am

Another way to explore the Gorge without a car.

Another way to explore the Gorge without a car.

2016 is a huge year for the Columbia River Gorge. 100 years ago Oregon celebrated the opening of Route 30 — the Columbia River Highway — and this year we’ll celebrate its grand re-opening as a State Trail with miles of new biking and walking-only paths that open up exciting carfree exploration opportunities.

But even as new pieces of the State Trail are completed, our overuse of cars is killing the Gorge vibe. In an effort to reduce automobiling’s impacts to this historic natural resource we all share, the Oregon Department of Transportation has launched a new public transit line.

The Columbia Gorge Express opens next Friday. The new line will have 12 departures a day Friday through Sunday from the Gateway Transit Center with stops in Rooster Rock State Park (25 miles east of Portland) and Multnomah Falls (30 miles east of Portland). It’s just $5 for a round-trip ticket and bicycle riders are welcome aboard: Each transit vehicle has capacity for three bikes on the rack.
[Read more…]

Construction begins on 1.3 mile section of Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

by on March 7th, 2016 at 11:55 am


(Image: ODOT)

2016 will be a big year for the Historic Columbia River Highway. The legendary road was a scenic precursor to Interstate 84 when it opened 100 years ago, but it fell into disrepair and was largely forgotten until the past decade or so when an effort to rebuild it as a (mostly) walking and biking path took hold. Proponents of the highway hoped to have all 73 miles of the original route from Troutdale to The Dalles completed by this year in time for a big centennial celebration. While they’re about 10 miles short of their goal, the celebration will still happen and there’s more progress this month as construction begins on a new 1.3-mile section of the trail.
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Travel Oregon tourism workshops and better transit coming to the Gorge in 2016

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on January 12th, 2016 at 9:41 am

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-13

More bikes in the Gorge is a very good thing.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re interested in helping the Columbia Gorge keep ascending into the pantheon of world-class cycling destinations, Travel Oregon wants to help you.

The extremely bike-friendly state tourism organization has selected the Columbia Gorge for its “Tourism Studio Program” in 2016. This is “a professional bi-state development program designed to bolster the region’s tourism economy while maintaining its rich environmental and cultural assets.” After the same program was implemented in Clackamas County in 2011, that region witnessed a blossoming of bike-related tourism projects and initiatives.

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s continued connection and improvement of the Historic Columbia River Highway has been combining with enthusiasm by people up and down the Gorge who see their area’s huge potential for tourism that has low environmental impact but big economic impact. We’ve been covering all of this as it has come together in recent years, and it looks like we’ll have plenty more to cover in the years to come.
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