Special Places

While we like to think the entire Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a special place, within its boundaries lie several specially designated areas. These include a Wilderness Area, two Wild & Scenic Rivers, and a National Scenic Trail. We can also recommend some special getaways for those looking for facilities that meet ADA requirements for accessibility.

What is a National Scenic Area? 

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area has a unique set of protections to preserve the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Gorge. Although we are managed by the Forest Service, we are slightly different from a National Forest. Learn more about what makes us special in the historic National Scenic Area Act. 

Accessible Recreation in the National Scenic Area

Accessible Recreation Video SeriesFrom spectacular overlooks to stunning waterfalls, and riverside picnics to paved promenades, there are easy-to-access Gorge adventures to suit everyone's style!

Plan your trip with our interactive map or get new ideas by watching short videos of our best accessible adventures and facilities.

Wild and Scenic Rivers

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 (Public Law 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area manages the Klickitat and White Salmon Wild & Scenic Rivers.

Video: How Boaters and Anglers can protect spawning salmon


Mark O Hatfield WildernessOne of our nation's greatest treasures is the National Wilderness Preservation System established by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Wildernesses are lands designated by Congress to be protected and preserved in their natural condition, without permanent improvements or habitation. 

Many trails in the Columbia River Gorge provide access to Mark O Hatfield Wilderness. Please view the special regulations associated with Wilderness areas and always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep these areas wild, clean, and pristine.

Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000 crosses the Columbia River National Scenic Area and runs through Mark O Hatfield Wilderness. Find maps, conditions, information about the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail here: www.pcta.org.

Highlighted Areas

Coyote Wall

A massive formation of columnar basalt, Coyote Wall is one of the Columbia River Gorge's most recognizable features from all directions. Known around the Gorge as "The Syncline", local amateur geologists enjoy debating its proper geological classification over a craft brew.

From Coyote Wall Trailhead, bikers, hikers, and riders can access a 30+ mile network trails with an open feel and breath-taking views. Trails include:

Mountain bikers love the range of mountain biking challenges which reward those who climb the trails with amazing panoramas of the Gorge! Naturalists can appreciate the diverse population of rare and sensitive plants found here. The thin, fragile soils were created by Missoula floods, and the habitat remains important for wildlife species.

Please avoid the area directly below Coyote Wall to the west, as it is private land. Trails in the area have been gradually rehabilitated in recent years according to a long-term site management plan, so user-created trails that once damaged natural resources are being decomissioned. New signs make it easy to stay on official trails, but use maps with caution as most are now out of date. (This planning map shows temporary names used during the planning process to label approved trails.) Today's signs do not match the shorthand codes, but they do make it easy to stay on official trails. Please respect signs indicating decommissioned trails and sensitive areas under restoration.