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Multnomah Falls and Lodge reopens after months-long closure due to COVID-19 pandemic

A limited amount of visitors will be allowed on the grounds and masks are required before entering.

BRIDAL VEIL, Ore. — One of Oregon's most visited tourist destinations is back open after months of being shut down due to the pandemic.

For nearly five months, staff at the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Transportation, Multnomah County and the Multnomah Falls Company have worked to create a safe reopening plan for Multnomah Falls.

"We do not want to be the vector of spreading the virus. This is really important and we're asking visitors to be diligent and to really abide the rules of the wearing of the mask and social distancing on site," said Stan Hinatsu with the U.S. Forest Service.

The Multnomah Falls and Lodge will only allow a maximum of 300 visitors at a time. If more show up, visitors will have to wait in a line before entering.

"We have put a lot of time, strategic effort making sure that we're inviting visitors back, employees back to a safe environment. We've been closed for almost five months," said Jill Willis, vice president of the Multnomah Falls Company. The company is in charge of maintaining the grounds and runs the restaurant, concessions and gift shop inside the lodge.

"It's going to look different. We're not going to have sit down dining for awhile. All of our dining will be outside," Willis said.

Arrows have been painted with environmentally friendly paint on the pathways directing visitors where to go, creating a one-way in, one-way out pathway.

At the falls, the viewing platform was mostly empty at times during the opening hours. Many stopped in on a whim not knowing if the falls was open.

"We just lucked out," said David Zaworski, visiting with a friend. "We were just coming out to the gorge and said, 'Well, let's just stop in at the falls and see if they're open.' We had no idea. Wow, our good fortune today."

Aaron Lastra is from El Paso and was brought by his friends to see the falls for the first time.

"It's gorgeous out here. I've never seen anything like it," Lastra said. "I'm from the desert, so all I see is cactus and dirt. It's amazing and gorgeous out here."

The new restrictions are in place to limit exposure and the amount of people crowding the popular attraction. Those that spent months coming up with a plan are relying on the public to adhere to the new guidelines.

"There's very small room for error. Zero. It has to be perfect and that comes with public cooperation, too. We've put so much time and effort into making this work so that people can come back, so we're just asking visitors come in with some managed expectations," Willis said.

Some of those expectations include no drop-offs along the Old Columbia River Highway outside the lodge. There will be no parking along the highway. The small parking lot is home to port-a-potties and the queue line for when the amount of visitors exceeds 300. 

Parking in the Interstate 84 lot is only accessible from eastbound I-84. The westbound entrance is closed.

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