Portland District

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Columbia River recreation

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation. Portland District's recreation sites allow visitors of all ages to enjoy biking, hiking, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, windsurfing and more. Whatever your favorite outdoor activity, one thing is certain: recreation can enrich your life. Visit one of our recreation areas to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories. With more than 90 percent of our recreation areas located within 50 miles of a city or town, there is likely to be a Corps site near you. We invite you to visit us!

Rules, policies & related

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National Recreation Reservation Service logoThe National Recreation Reservation Service lets users seek available campsites and make reservations.*

Campsites can be reserved up to 240 days in advance and group facilities up to 360 days in advance.  Call 1-877-444-6777 or go to http://www.recreation.gov.

*(Note: not all recreation sites take reservations)

All rules and regulations for the public use of Corps lands are described in Title 36, Chapter III, Part 327. The following document provides more detailed information specific to hunting on Corps lands within the Portland District. Hunters should be aware that some of the lands surrounding Corps reservoirs are managed by other County, State, and Federal agencies and different guidelines may apply. Hunters are responsible for recognizing private land boundaries and should not hunt on private land without permission of the landowner.

Note: Hunting is not allowed on Corps-owned lands at Bonneville Lock and Dam.

The following guidelines apply to all Corps-managed lands:

  1. All Oregon State hunting regulations should be followed when hunting in Oregon.  All Washington State hunting regulations should be followed when hunting in Washington.

  2. Hunting is not permitted in developed recreation areas including but not limited to campgrounds, picnic areas, boat launch facilities, and parking lots, even when these recreation areas are closed for the season. Hunting in the lakebed near recreation areas is permitted below the high water mark. Shot may not fall into developed recreation areas. 

  3. Firearms are not permitted within 400 ft. of concrete dam structures or powerhouses. 

  4. With the exception of the Rogue River Basin Project (see above) only shotguns and bow-hunting are permitted on Corps-owned lands. Only federally-approved non-toxic shot may be used, except for deer hunters using slugs or buckshot. 

  5. Trapping is permitted by special permit only at the following reservoirs: Cottage Grove, Dorena, Fern Ridge, Dexter, Lookout Point, Fall Creek, Hills Creek, Foster, and Green Peter. For trapping permits, contact Garrett Dorsey at the Corps of Engineers Fern Ridge office- 541-461-2869. 

  6. Target and clay pigeon shooting and “plinking” is prohibited. Air guns, bb guns, and paintball guns are not permitted. 

  7. Off-road use of motor vehicles is prohibited beyond established roads and barriers.

  8. Camping is permitted only in designated areas. Open fires are prohibited except in campground fire rings.

  9. All garbage generated during hunting activities (including shotgun shells) shall be removed from Corps lands.

Questions about these guidelines should be directed to:

Bonneville Lock and Dam Visitor Center: 541-374-8344

  • NOTE: Due to the small acreage combined with developed recreation interspersed with operational lands, hunting is not allowed on Corps-owned lands at Bonneville Lock and Dam.

The Dalles Lock and Dam Park Ranger Office: 541-506-7857

John Day Lock and Dam and Willow Creek Reservoir Park Ranger Office: 541-506-7819




These five steps will help you to anchor safely:

  1. Use anchor lines that are 5-7 times the depth of the water. The Columbia River's depth may exceed 100 feet in some places.
    1. Use a float for the anchor line to serve as a buffer and to reduce the risk of getting the anchor line tangled in the propeller.

    2. Lower, do not throw, the anchor to avoid tangles in the line.

    3. Anchor only off the point of the bow. Anchoring off the stern or the side will capsize your boat.

  2. Power upstream of anchor before retrieving it. Maintain position in line with the flow of the current while retrieving anchor. Turning cross-wise to the current increases the risk of capsizing.

  3. Rivers can become turbulent with little or no warning. You are advised to wear a Coast Guard-approved Personal Flotation Device at all times. Also, take precautions against hypothermia. River temperatures can range from 70 degrees in the summer to near freezing during the winter.

  4. River users are reminded that although it is legal to anchor in the channel, it is illegal to block the right-of-way of a vessel that is restricted to using the channel.

  5. Five blasts of the horn signify danger, and you must take action to avoid that danger.

For more tips, visit the Corps of Engineers National Water Safety site: http://watersafety.usace.army.mil

Click here for a print version of this information.

Fees at Corps-managed sites at John Day Lock and Dam:

  • LePage reservation park
  • River campsite $22 per night
  • Back-in campsite $20 per night
  • Gazebo tent sites $16
  • Tent campsite $14 per night, $5 per day per extra vehicle
  • Overflow campsite $14
  • Day-use fee $1
  • Boat ramp and tie-up dock $3 per day
  • Dump station $5 per dump (applies only if not staying at campground)
  • Senior / Access discounts accepted


  • Plymouth reservation park
  • Full hook-up campsite $24
  • Partial hook-up campsite $22
  • Tent campsite $14, $5 per day per extra vehicle
  • Day-use $1
  • Boat dock and ramp $3
  • Dump station fee $5 (applies only if not staying at campground)
  • Senior / Access discounts accepted

Day-use fees, including boat ramp and dump station fees, will be collected while parks are available for camping. No fees are collected during park closure dates. Some boat ramps outside fee campgrounds will charge a $3 launch fee per day, which is valid at any Corps-managed recreation site for day it was purchased.

Some designated swim beaches outside fee campgrounds may charge a use fee of $1 per person over the age of 12 or in a vehicle up to $4. However, if a vehicle has more than 8 passengers over the age of 12, there will be a fee of $1 for each additional individual over the age of 12.

All fees have been set to maintain comparable fee schedules with other federal, state, county and private campgrounds. All fees meet the requirements set in Engineering Publication 1130-2-550. Fee comparability within the same state and district is outlined in Paragraph 9 of EP 1130-2-550.




333 SW 1st AVE




CENWP-DE                                                                                                   27 September 2012




SUBJECT: Commander’s Policy Letter #19, Geocaching Within Portland District Boundaries


1. Purpose. Geocaching may be allowed on public lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 (CFR 36) and any applicable state or local rules and regulations, provided the activity is conducted in an unobtrusive manner. Geocaching can be an appropriate and compatible recreational activity on public land and water, as long as common sense guidelines are followed. Some Corps projects have used the popularity of the sport as an innovative tool to distribute information, such as water safety, in geocaches on Corps-managed lands.


2. Definition of Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor adventure activity for users of global positioning systems (GPS). Individuals and organizations set up geocaches (caches) all over the world and share their locations, often through the Internet. Numerous web sites are available, with one of the most popular being http://www.geocaching.com/. GPS users can then find the caches through published coordinates and site descriptions. Most commonly, a geocache is an object or container holding small objects for exchange. The finder may remove the enclosed "prize" and leave another, sign a logbook, or utilize a number of variations. Some "caches" are simply locations with unusual vegetation or unique land features the cache owner wants the cache hunter to experience (virtual caches). There is also a derivative form of the sport that searches for published coordinates of an existing historical monument, plaque, or benchmark.

While geocaching has become the standard name for the sport, other terms include Navicaching, GPS Orienteering, GPS Stash Hunt, and Benchmarking.


3. Policy. In accordance with 36 CFR 327.19 or 327.21, District Engineers, or their designees, may develop permit systems or policies to track and/or control placement of geocaches on project lands, provided this use does not conflict with project missions or security. Simplicity and ease of compliance should be emphasized. Information needed from the proposed geocache owner will include the cache coordinates (location), his/her name, and his/her address and phone number. The intent of collecting this information is to keep track of the location and number of caches on the project and to contact the owner if the cache needs to be removed. During application, the project should ask the proposed cache owner to provide a current picture form of identification with an address to confirm the applicant's identity. This information is voluntary; however, the applicant’s request can be denied for failure to comply with the information request. The project is required to store this information in a secure manner. Geocache objects or containers should be clearly identified as such when placed on public lands. Transparent containers are required, due to homeland security issues. Caches should not contain alcohol, illicit, or other inappropriate materials. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to work with the cache owners and jointly conduct periodic cache inspections to insure they are not being used for illicit and/or inappropriate purposes.

a. Individuals or groups that participate in geocaching activities on Corps property must be responsible for coordinating these activities with the Portland District, to help prevent potential conflicts with management activities (i.e., controlled burns, timber sales, planting, etc.)


4. Restrictions. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to establish designated areas where geocaching will be allowed and other areas where it will be restricted. Geocaching activities will not be allowed to occur in restricted areas where there could be conflicts with project missions, project security, or the safety of the general public.

Examples where geocaching would not be allowed include but are not limited to:

a. In designated restricted areas.

b. lf the cache, directly or indirectly, would negatively affect ecologically, environmentally, or socially sensitive areas (i.e., threatened or endangered species, critical habitats, cultural resources, tribal lands without consent, etc.).

c. In areas with potential safety risks, such as unstable banks, cliffs, or other hazards.

d. Where geocaching activities may interfere with established public uses, such as boat launching, picnicking, swimming, etc.

f. Where geocaching activities may interfere with the operation or security of the project.


5. Management Considerations. Management considerations at individual projects may require other permanent or temporary measures to ensure that geocaching activities are compatible with other project uses. For example, a project may need to prohibit geocaching during active management in an area for timber harvest, prescribed burning, hunting, or other wildlife management activities. Some projects may want to encourage and actively participate in geocaching activities to promote the Corps message in a positive way.

a. In certain instances, it may be necessary to issue a Special Event Permit in compliance with Title 36, 327.21. Conditions that may warrant the need for a Special Event Permit may include one-time activities that are publicly advertised, commercial in nature, involve large numbers of participants, provide cash prizes or other significant awards, or may potentially conflict with other uses of an area, etc.

b. If a cache must be removed from public lands for operational, safety, environmental, cultural, or other reason, a reasonable effort should be made to contact the cache owner and request removal. If the owner cannot be found, or the cache is not removed within a reasonable time, the cache may be removed and impounded as abandoned property, under 36 CFR 327.15.


6. Summary. In general, geocaching can be a fun and appropriate recreational activity at Corps projects, provided the security or missions of the project are not compromised. It provides an opportunity for positive interactions and partnerships with local groups involved in this activity.

Monitoring of web sites, communication and participation with these groups can form healthy relationships with benefits to all involved. Working with these groups can prevent problems and promote the Corps as a willing partner. Regulation should be based on common-sense needs of specific projects or areas, with a minimal permitting burden on the recreating public.


7. Point of Contact. The point of contact is Mr. Doug Dailey, CENWP-DE, (503) 808-4441.





                                                                 //original signed//

Seaplanes may be operated seven days a week between sunrise and sunset at all Portland District lakes with the exception of Big Cliff, Applegate and Willow Creek lakes. Once on the water seaplanes shall be considered powerboats and must be operated in accordance with marine rules of the road. Seaplanes in the water may taxi to any area of the lake subject to the powerboating restrictions for those lakes. For more information, see: Seaplane operations at Corps of Engineers lakes.

Call us for scheduling:

Bonneville Lock and Dam: 541-374-8820 and select option 2.

The Dalles Lock and Dam: 541-506-7819

For other locations, please contact us at 503-808-4510.

Detailed information specific to each location is also listed on our Recreation page.

If you're enthusiastic, enjoy new people and want to protect parks, then you might want to be a volunteer!

Volunteer park hosts inform visitors, register campers, assist at entrance stations, conduct customer comment surveys, open and close parks, pick up litter, perform minor maintenance and support interpretive programs. Hosts live in the parks and inform Park Rangers about emergencies or visitor complaints. Volunteer hosts must work at least 20 hours per week, and stay in the park during certain hours to assist visitors as needed. In return, RV sites with full hookups are provided. Current Corps of Engineers openings are listed at the Volunteer Clearinghouse.

Natural Resource Volunteers assist the Corps throughout the year with natural resource management activities. Volunteers are often recruited volunteers from the community for special events such as: Earth Day, SOLV Beach and Riverside Clean-Up, Down By the Riverside and National Public Lands Day. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church members, school groups, and other community groups have helped with litter clean-ups, trail work, non-native plant removal, habitat improvement and tree planting.

For more about volunteer opportunities, please contact one of our Columbia River Park Rangers:
Bonneville Lock and Dam: Ryan Braaten, 541-374-8820
The Dalles Lock and Dam: Amber Tilton, 541-506-7857
John Day and Willow Creek dams: Greg Volkman, 541-506-7899

The Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service and other agencies cooperatively gather and analyze data for current and projected future reservoir and river level information.

NWS: Northwest River Forecast Center

   EP 1165-2-316 outlines Title 36 rules and regulations for recreation at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locations. (Click here for another format).

The Dalles recreation

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The Avery Park sign welcomes visitors to the site.Notice: The west portion of Avery Park is temporarily closed to vehicles and limited to day use only. 

No fees; 14-day use limit. First come, first serve availability. No reservations.

Amenities and activities:

  • Boat ramp (open to the public except during commercial treaty fishing seasons)
  • Camping (primitive)
  • Picnic area
  • Vault toilets
  • Windsurfing
  • Kiteboarding

Contact information: 541-506-7857

Directions: Milepost 93 off Hwy. 14.

No fees; 14-day use limit. First-come, first-serve availability; no reservations.

Amenities & activities:
  • Restrooms
  • Boat ramp
  • Camping (primitive)
  • Historic site
  • Picnic area
  • Shore access to river
  • Windsurfing
  • Kiteboarding

Contact information: 541-506-7857

Directions: From I-84, take exit 97.

Contact information: 509-767-1159
Directions: Milepost 85 off Washington State Rd. 4.

Contact information: 541-739-2322

Directions: 17 miles east from The Dalles off I-84. From I-84, take the Celilo Park exit and continue east on Hwy. 30.

No fees; day use only. 

Amenities and activities:

  • Pond
  • Vault toilets
  • Wildlife watching
  • Fishing
  • Picnic area

Contact information: 541-506-7857

Directions: Take Hwy. 197 north, cross the Columbia River Bridge, go one mile and turn right. Sign visible.

Contact information: 509-773-5007

Directions: From I-84, take exit 104, turn north on Hwy. 97, cross the bridge and turn right.

No fees; day use, overlook and river access only.

Amenities and activities:

  • Boat launch with courtesy dock
  • Scenic overlook
  • Vault toilets
  • Fishing
  • Geocaching

Contact information: 541-506-7857

Directions: From Hwy. 197 north, cross the Columbia River bridge and turn right.

Call to inquire about special event permits for this location.

Amenities and activities:

  • Bathrooms 
  • Gazebo 
  • Picnic area
  • Pond 

Contact information: 541-506-7857 or 541-296-9778

Directions: This park is only accessible via special event permit. 

The Rufus Landing Recreation Area sign welcomes visitors to Lake CeliloNo fees; 14-day use limit. First come, first serve availability. No reservations.

Amenities and activities:

  • Camping (primitive)
  • Shore access to the river
  • Vault toilets
  • Geocaching
  • Windsurfing
  • Kiteboarding
  • Fishing

Contact information: 541-506-7857

Directions: From I-84, take exit 109 at Rufus. Go north towards river and left at intersection. 

Day-use only; available year-round from dawn to dusk.  No bathrooms or water are available if the Visitors Center is closed.

Amenities and activities:

  • Covered picnic area
  • Historice rose garden
  • Scenic views of Mt. Hood
  • Access to The Dalles Riverfront Trail

Contact information: 541-506-7857 or 541-296-9778

Directions: On I-84, take exit 87; also at the junction of Hwy. 197 and I-84.

The Spearfish Park sign welcomes visitorsNo fees; day-use only. 

Amenities and activities:

  • Boat ramp (small; provides access to Spearfish Lake only)
  • Hiking trail
  • Trout fishing
  • Vault toilets
  • Geocaching

Contact information: 541-506-7857

Directions: From Hwy. 197 north, cross the Columbia River Bridge, go one mile and turn right. Sign visible.

No fees. Amenities and activities:

  • Fishing
  • Portable bathroom facilities (provided seasonally)
  • Shore access to river
  • Windsurfing 
  • Kiteboarding

Contact information: 541-506-7857

Directions: From I-84, take exit 104, turn north on Hwy. 97, cross the bridge and turn right.  Continue heading east until paved road becomes gravel.

Columbia River life jacket loaner boards

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Hamilton Island boat ramp

Approximately 1 mile west of Bonneville Lock and Dam and 1 mile east of town of North Bonneville on Washington State Route 14.  Turn onto the Dam Access Road towards the river, travel approx ¾ mile to left at boat ramp signed intersection. The loaner board is at the eastern end of the lot.

Plymouth Park day-use area and boat ramp

Location: Columbia River Mile 290, North River Bank.  In Plymouth, Washington, 1.2 miles west of Umatilla Bridge.  Loaner boards are in the day-use area swim beach and at the boat ramp.


LePage Park day-use area swim beach and boat ramp

Location: Off Exit 114, Interstate 84, at confluence of John Day and Columbia rivers, on the south river bank, 5 miles from Rufus, Ore. and John Day Dam. Loaner boards located next to the boat ramp and at the swim beach.


The Dalles Marina

(managed by Port of The Dalles)

Boat ramp

From Interstate 84, take exit 86 toward City Center / The Dalles and turn north toward the river. The marina is on the left and the loaner board is at the boat ramp. 

The Dalles Riverfront Park

(managed by North Wasco Co. Parks and Recreation)

Day use area swim beach

From Interstate 84, take exit 86 toward City Center / The Dalles and turn north toward the river. Park will be on the right and the loaner board is located just east of the Kayak Shack near the swim beach.

Columbia Hills State Park

(managed by Washington State Parks)

Boat ramp

From The Dalles, at mile marker 85 (approximately 5 miles northeast and one mile east from the intersection of highways 97 and 14).

Celilo Park

(managed by USACE)

Boat ramp

From Interstate 84 take exit 97 and turn North toward the river. Turn left into Celilo Park and the loaner board is at the western end of the park.

Heritage Landing

(managed by Oregon State Parks)

Boat ramp

Heritage Landing is approximately 17 miles East from the City of The Dalles.  From Interstate 84 take exit 97 and turn South.  At the stop sign turn east (left) onto old highway OR-206 E / ​Celilo-Wasco Hwy. Continue approximately 3 miles and turn North onto Old Moody Road / CO Hwy 143.

Maryhill State Park

(managed by Oregon State Parks)

Day use area swim beach

From Interstate 84, take exit 104 and cross the Biggs Bridge at Highway 97. Traveling north into Washington, turn right at the entrance sign just past Maryhill Fruit Stand.  From Washington Highway 14, turn south onto Highway 97 and the entrance sign will be on your left just before Maryhill Fruit Stand. The loaner board is at the eastern end of the park, at the boat ramp.