With more than 2 million visitors each year, Multnomah Falls Recreation Area is one of Oregon’s top visitor attractions and one of the most-visited natural areas in the Pacific Northwest. The 611-foot double cascade (Oregon’s tallest waterfall) is spectacular year-round, but if you want to visit by car between late May and early September you’ll need to book an advance timed-entry ticket.
The system, now in its third year, is designed to reduce the crowding in the parking lot and the backlogged traffic on the short left turn-off ramp of Exit 31 on Interstate 84. The ticket system is designed for better accessibility and a more safe and enjoyable experience for all.
Here’s what you need to know.
- If you ride a shuttle to Multnomah Falls, no ticket is required. Just show your shuttle pass at the entrance instead.
- If you arrive by bike, no ticket is required. Just lock up your bike and walk in.
- If you arrive by car or motorcycle, you must purchase an advance ticket between 9 a.m.-6 p.m., late May to late September.
Here’s how the system works.
- To purchase a ticket, log on to Recreation.gov or the Recreation.gov mobile app and choose your date and quantity of tickets. You may reserve up to six tickets per transaction. All visitors, including infants, require a ticket. Tickets must be purchased at least a day before your visit and may be canceled up to midnight a day before the reservation, but the small reservation fee is nonrefundable. Your ticket reservation does not guarantee a parking space, but it will be easier to park since there will be fewer visitors. You may book up to two weeks in advance or 48 hours in advance.
- Arrive at Multnomah Falls via the eastbound Interstate 84 parking lot at Exit 31. This parking lot is the best place to park to enter the falls. Stopping in front of the Lodge on the Historic Columbia River Highway and blocking traffic is prohibited.
- You’ll see check-in stations at the entrance; follow the pathways to the plaza and present your ticket for entry — either a printed or a digital copy. Your name must match the one on the ticket. Please arrive as close to your reserved time as possible (no early entry is allowed).
The ticketing system is a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Columbia Area Transit.
Ride a Shuttle Instead
If you’d rather skip the advance ticket system and the hassle of parking, consider hopping on a shuttle to Multnomah Falls instead. Shuttle riders will receive a wristband, sticker or pass that serves as a ticket to enter Multnomah Falls.
Three shuttle options are available:
- The new Waterfall Shuttle offers a guided sunset tour of six area waterfalls each Friday and Saturday at 5:30 p.m., an opportunity to see the falls without crowds. Or if you just need a quick lift, hop aboard their shuttle for the 5-minute trip from their parking lot off Exit 35 to Multnomah Falls, no permit needed.
- The Sasquatch Shuttle offers a daily on-and-off pass. Riders have easy access to all of the major sites along the Historic Columbia River Highway including Horsetail Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Angel’s Rest and more. Dogs are welcome on board.
- The Gray Line Trolley offers a narrated hop on, hop off tour/shuttle full-day pass that stops at Multnomah Falls and eight other iconic sites in the Columbia River Gorge. Tickets are $19 per rider.
- The Columbia Gorge Express is the city-bus route that shuttles riders between Portland, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks, Hood River and The Dalles. The shuttle is bike friendly. Or purchase an annual GOrge Pass, which lets you hop on/hop off any of the buses around the Gorge (and helps protect the scenic area).
Or go by bike or e-bike.
Cyclists who arrive at Multnomah Falls do not need to book an advance ticket. One great option is to rent an e-bike at Ebike Multnomah Falls, 5 miles west of Multnomah Falls along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Guests can park for free at the rental location, hop on an e-bike and cruise about 15 minutes to Multnomah Falls to hike as much or as little as you like. Cyclists then can lock their bike at the entrance and enjoy their day, no ticket needed. No experience is needed; riders 16 and over (sorry, it’s Oregon law) are allowed to use the e-bikes, and helmets are provided.
Riders meet at Guy W. Talbot State Park and the booking includes a pass for the permit checkpoints. Low vehicle speeds along the Historic Highway make for an enjoyable riding experience, and you can also pack a picnic to enjoy at a scenic viewpoint — bikes come with straps to attach a bag to a sturdy rack.
More Tips for Visiting
- Stay on trails and respect closures.
- Always have a Plan B and a Plan C in case your destination is too crowded or closed.
- Bookmark the Ready Set GOrge website and check before you go for the latest updates on trail closures in the Gorge.
- Pets are allowed at Multnomah Falls but must be leashed at all times. Remember to pick up and pet waste and put it in the trash.
- Wear sturdy footwear and layers for the weather — the spray and mist cause a cooler microclimate that may be chilly in the cooler months.
- Visiting midweek is always a best bet for fewer crowds.
- Winter and springtime rain bring the fullest flows to the waterfall. You’ll also avoid the summertime ticketing system.
- Extinguish cigarette butts and put them in the trash.
- Be kind and patient to fellow visitors and staff.
The Historic Columbia River Highway is known as the Waterfall Corridor for good reason: There are plenty more jaw-dropping cascades to explore. Less-crowded alternatives include the 2.4-mile round trip to Wahclella Falls, the 4.4-mile out-and-back at Dry Creek Falls and the 1.4-mile out-and-back to Bridal Veil Falls.
More alluring sites await east, including the Bonneville Lock and Dam and the car-free Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Walk or cycle two favorite segments: the Wyeth Trailhead to Lindsey Creek and the Twin Tunnels Trail, named for long tunnels chiseled through the basalt as part of the original road, which ends in Mosier. From there you can discover wineries, U-picks and other farm-to-table treats along the East Gorge Food Trail.