Parking woes plague summer travelers heading to Multnomah Falls - KPTV - FOX 12

Parking woes plague summer travelers heading to Multnomah Falls

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Multnomah Falls, OR (KPTV) -

It’s a parking predicament at Multnomah Falls this summer as closures from last summer’s Eagle Creek fire linger.

ODOT said with a stretch of the Historic Columbia River Highway still closed, visitors are only able to park at the Multnomah Falls Parking lots in the middle of I-84.

The 186-space lot will see anywhere from 2,000-2,500 cars vying for a parking spot each day.

The state agency said during busy periods they close the lot to keep traffic from backing up onto the interstate. Spokesman Don Hamilton said on those busy days that happens about 20 times.

He said the lot closes when 100 percent of the spots are filled and won’t reopen until 92 percent are full. The entrance from eastbound I-84 has special gates that close when the lot is full.

ODOT is encouraging those who want to visit the falls to take the Columbia Gorge Express, a shuttle that runs from Portland to Hood River. It stops in at Rooster Rock State Park where Hamilton said there are about 1,400 parking spaces.

The shuttle has been popular this summer. By midday Friday a line had formed at the stop waiting for the bus to arrive.

Among them was Gary Bowman of Vancouver. He was in line with family visiting from Ohio and Kentucky.

“Mandatory Multnomah Falls visit on a day when about a million other people have decided the same thing,” Bowman said. “I was going to take the old road from Vista House to Multnomah Falls but it is still closed from the fires last year.”

ODOT is asking drivers to not stop and wait for the gates to open if they are closed to the entrance to the Multnomah Falls parking. They said it is a very dangerous place to be.

Hamilton said there are currently conversations underway about the parking issues at the falls.

The U.S. Forest Service said there is no estimate on when the closures around the Eagle Creek Fire will be lifted.

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