Multnomah Falls Lodge, parking lot to reopen this week after Eag - KPTV - FOX 12

Multnomah Falls Lodge, parking lot to reopen this week after Eagle Creek Fire closures

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The fence blocking visitors beyond the lodge. The fence blocking visitors beyond the lodge.
Multnomah Falls Lodge (KPTV) Multnomah Falls Lodge (KPTV)
Multnomah Falls Tuesday. Multnomah Falls Tuesday.
Multnomah Falls, OR (KPTV) -

After being closed for almost three months in the wake of the Eagle Creek Fire, the Multnomah Falls Lodge and parking lot are set to reopen to the public for the first time this week.

Details of exactly when they will reopen are expected to come Wednesday.

Other areas, including the lower viewing platform, bridges and surrounding trails will remain closed for now due to safety concerns.

The U.S. Forest Service said the barrier that existed before the fire to protect the lodge from falling rocks and trees was badly damaged by falling debris in the fire and needs to be replaced. Until a new permanent fence can be installed, visitors will be kept off the slope.

“The rock fall analysis [we initially did] indicated to us that the slopes behind the lodge have the potential to hit the lodge with pretty large rock fall that could kill somebody or damage the building, so part of our effort is installing a new rock fall barrier behind the lodge,” said Ryan Cole, an engineering geologist with the Forest Service.

Additionally, the Shady Creek Bridge burned in the fire, and it needs to be replaced before the iconic stone Benson Bridge can reopen. That may not happen until summer.

As for the trail system, experts said there is no timeline for reopening and some areas have yet to be assessed because of the ongoing danger.

Still, having visitors come back at all this week is a huge step forward for Jill Buck.

She is the vice president of the Multnomah Falls Company, the family-owned small business that operates the lodge. At the height of the fire, she had to lay off 100 employees. Many of them are seasonal workers, but now roughly 50 year-round workers will be returning.

“It’s been a journey and we’re just glad to see it’s coming to an end,” Buck said. “We’re going to be OK, because now we know the end is near and we’re going to be reopening our doors, but any longer and we’d have to make some serious changes.”

Tuesday afternoon, workers putting the final touches on the restaurant and the gift shop to prepare for the first post-fire visitors. Due to smoke damage, everything in the gift shop either had to be restored or replaced.

When the Multnomah Falls parking lot does reopen this week, it will remain open around the clock. When it reaches capacity, the gates from I-84 will automatically close.

However, the tunnel connecting the parking lot to the lodge will only be open when the lodge is open, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors outside of those hours will have to take their pictures from the parking lot.

Buck said the gift shop, information center, restaurant, concessions and espresso bar will be open for visitors once the green light is given for the phased reopening this week. Dinner at the lodge, however, will not be available this winter.

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