Vancouver man loves a piece of nature in the Gorge so much, he b - KPTV - FOX 12

Vancouver man loves a piece of nature in the Gorge so much, he bought it

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A picture of Naked Falls, courtesy of Steven Epling. A picture of Naked Falls, courtesy of Steven Epling.
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

If you’ve ever been to Naked Falls along the Washougal River in Skamania County, Washington, you understand the allure.

It’s a gem of the Pacific Northwest, filled with sparking blue water, a waterfall, rocks and trees all tucked away in the heart of nature.

“It’s liberating to be in a place where you’re in free flowing water and to be in a place where you become immersed in the environment,” said Steven Epling. “So more and more as I’ve gotten older it’s become more of a philosophical thing for me, but the reality is it’s just a really fun place to be.”

Epling loves it so much, he just bought it.

He grew up going to the falls and has so many great memories: Trying to catch fish, swimming against the flow of the falls, spending time with friends. Now, as an adult, he takes his own young son there.

The land used to be owned by timber giant Weyerhaeuser, but it was closed to the public last summer due to safety concerns. Large crows and people taking unnecessary risks sometimes led to problems.

“I think I, to a degree, saw that coming,” Epling told FOX 12. “But it was devastating to hear I wouldn’t be allowed up there anymore, I couldn’t take my son there anymore. So I felt I had to do something about it.”

Through money he saved from selling properties, savings and a loan, he bought the 131 acre property for $275,000 a few months back.

Now, he’s set to officially reopen it to the public this weekend for the first time in a year.

Starting Saturday morning, he’ll be there with his son to welcome people back.

However, he urges anyone planning to come to be a respectful steward of the space, preserving it for future generations.

There is limited parking and a $10 fee to fund future maintenance. You can get passes from him directly on site this weekend, or learn more on Facebook. An official website for Naked Falls should be up and running in roughly two weeks.

Epling can’t wait.

“It’s an escape from the drab world, it’s a place where you can feel the raw spirit of nature, and that’s where I go to go back to what I think of as my natural, uninhibited self.”

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