Hot Spot

Columbia River Gorge 2019

Portland, OR

Over three million people visit the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area every year — many of whom go on a hike. This 85-mile long, iconic canyon landscape is only 20 miles from 2.5 million people living in the Portland metropolitan area — the most populous area in Oregon. Because of its proximity to Portland, many Gorge visitors are from the metro-Portland area. Tourism agencies, such as Travel Oregon and Travel Portland, have also publicized the Gorge as a must-see destination to both United States and international visitors. This publicity has attracted visitors from throughout Oregon and Washington, as well as many tourists from other states and countries. Up to 30% of Gorge visitors are from outside of the United States.  As growth in visitation continues to accelerate, the most pressing recreation impacts are visitor-created trails (and the subsequent trail erosion), invasive species and litter. Secondary impacts include unprepared visitors, dogs off-leash, pet waste, strain on local search and rescue organizations, and congestion along historic Highway 30, as well as in parking lots, at trailheads and at waterfalls.


  • 262 People Educated
  • 10 Educational Programs
  • 20+ Local and Regional Stakeholders Actively Participated

The complexity of the Columbia River Gorge and its patchwork of state, federal, and private land across such a vast landscape and in such close proximity to Portland presented unique challenges as a Hot Spot.  Before the Hot Spot efforts began, many local stakeholders had already begun collaborative work on educational campaigns aimed at mitigating some of these impacts.  Throughout the Hot Spot planning process and activation week, we were able to re-stoke those ongoing efforts by bringing those stakeholders, and some new ones, back to the table to discuss future opportunities.  Throughout the activation week, we held a variety of successful educational programs, presentations, panel discussions, and strategic planning sessions to engage a wide variety of key stakeholders across this stunning landscape.

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