With the completion of the project to remove Powerdale Dam in 2010 and the acquisition of Punchbowl Falls which became a new county park in 2016, American Whitewater continues to work towards improvements to access that will realize the full potential of the recreational opportunities available from the headwaters to the mouth of the Hood River.
View American Whitewater's interactive story map of Hood River whitewater boating and key access points.
Protecting Punch Bowl Falls near the confluence of the East and West Forks of the Hood River was long recognized as one of the most important river access projects in the country. With the leadership of Western Rivers Conservancy and Hood River Valley Residents Committee and the participation and financial backing of several American Whitewater members, this private parcel that was used for decades as a dispersed recreation site, will now be managed as a County Park. A significant percentage of American Whitewater's membership lives in the Columbia River Gorge and access to this site where the East and West Forks of the Hood join is critically important for our local members and those who travel from around the country to enjoy the great whitewater of rivers of the Columbia Gorge. Punch Bowl Falls is one of Oregon’s iconic scenic and recreational sites, and the Hood is the go-to river for boaters in the Columbia River Gorge. Above the Falls, the West Fork of the Hood flows through two beautiful gorges. It provides an opportunity for boaters to test and strengthen their Class IV skills with consistently fun rapids at a variety of flows. Below the falls, the West Fork joins the East Fork to form the Hood River, where boaters can enjoy Class III water on a newly free-flowing river following the removal of Powerdale Dam. The area around the Falls is not only an important access point for boaters, but is significant to the overall community as well. Located in a stunning canyon, it provides a sanctuary for salmon, access for swimming and has great potential for day use.
A few years ago Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) purchased 102 acres surrounding the falls, including 2 miles of river. The land was privately owned and although the public had used the site for decades, it could have been closed to public access. Based in Portland, OR, Western Rivers Conservancy protects outstanding river ecosystems in the western United States by acquiring private lands and transferring them to long-term stewards for permanent conservation and management.
With leadership from the Hood River Valley Residents Committee, who convened a planning and visioning effort for the future of the parcel, Hood River County agreed to step up manage the property as a salmon sanctuary and park. American Whitewater participated in the fundraising and planning effort with many of our local members directly taking part. Our goal throughout the process was to ensure that river access is a key component of the future for the park.
Thanks to your support, Punch Bowl Falls will be forever protected as a premier boating and recreational destination available for all to enjoy.
A vision more than a century in the making is about to become reality with last week’s decision by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission to approve the grant for the acquisition of Punchbowl Falls and the property at the confluence of the West and East Forks of the Hood River.
Punch Bowl Falls is one of Oregon’s iconic scenic and recreational sites on the Hood River in the Columbia Gorge. At the confluence of the east and west forks of the Hood River, the site has been privately owned and its future remains to be determined. Our goal is to see the site become a public park and we encourage the boating community to join that discussion.
This summer, American Whitewater has joined a campaign to raise funds to protect Mt. Hood's Punch Bowl Falls in Oregon. We're asking the paddling community to step up in support of this project!
The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.
|Thomas O'Keefe||Seattle WA||Details...|
AW Joins Effort to Protect Punch Bowl Falls (OR)
July 10, 2012
Punchbowl Falls Funding Secured (OR)
July 1, 2015