Reminder to Recreate Responsibly at Eagle Creek Recreation Area

Reminder to Recreate Responsibly at Eagle Creek Recreation Area  

Hood River –The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Forest Service and the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind visitors to recreate responsibly this summer at Eagle Creek Recreation Area.  Hood River County Sheriff’s Office responds to an average of 10 search and rescue’s a year in this area, but in 2013 the total was up to 17. 

The majority of search and rescue calls are centered on visitors jumping off Punchbowl Falls, which has resulted in serious injuries and fatalities.  The Forest Service enacted a closure order for jumping or diving off the falls in 2011 that serves a three hundred dollar fine for violators.   The closure order was enacted to reduce adverse impacts to the Sheriff’s Office, search and rescue personnel, and to provide for visitor safety.  Despite signage and patrols, the closure order continues to be violated and recreating visitors are being seriously injured. 

Visitors who have jumped off the 80ft waterfall suffer neck and back injuries, and succumb to dangerous undercurrents in the water below and thick sediment that makes the water shallower than it appears.  While a body of water is tempting in warm weather, many visitors do not realize how cold the water stays there year round. 

The multiple search and rescue operations at Eagle Creek drains valuable resources at the Sheriff’s Office and has led to difficulty getting volunteer searchers to help.  “We want people to enjoy the numerous outdoor activities our county has to offer but that comes with a level of personal responsibility”, said Hood River County Sheriff Matt English.  “Too often, the search and rescues we respond to are avoidable and have resulted from reckless, irresponsible behavior.”  The Sheriff’s Office says that it is imperative that visitors educate themselves regarding trail restrictions and closures and abide by them.  “Jumping from Punchbowl Falls is prohibited for good reason”, English went on to say.  “Yet we continue to see tragic, avoidable incidents at that location every year.”

Both agencies are asking visitors to recreate responsibly in the Eagle Creek Recreation Area by not taking unnecessary risks and obeying all closures and regulations.  Visitors should always carry the ten essentials that include a map and compass, extra food and water, whistle, rain jacket, extra clothing, waterproof matches and fire starter, flashlight, and first aid kit. Visitors should not rely on electronic GPS devices or cell phones and always leave an itinerary with someone. 

Joint patrols will be conducted by both agencies to enforce and educate the public on the closure order at Punchbowl Falls.  Please look up current conditions and closures before you plan your trip in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area at