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Washington State Parks

USA Parks
Columbia Hills State Park
Spring Hike ©
Cool Swim ©
Milepost 85 State Route 14
Dallesport, Washington   98617
Columbia Hills State Park which includes the Horsethief Lake area and Dalles Mountain Ranch area is a 3,338-acre camping park with 7,500 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River. Horsethief Butte dominates the skyline. It stands over the lake like an ancient castle. The lake itself is about 90 acres in size and is actually an impoundment of the Columbia River. The lake was flooded into existence by the reservoir created by The Dalles Dam. Lupine and balsam root bloom in mid-April making spectacular fields of purple and gold. Rock climbing is possible in this park.

Park hours/updates

Summer 630 a.m. to dusk.Winter Closed Oct. 27, reopens March 27.

Camping Check-in time, 230 p.m. Check-out time, 1 p.m. Quiet hours 10 p.m. to 630 a.m.

Day use fees are $10 per day or $30 per year.
Nature of the Area
Wildlife Mammals Birds Fish & Sea Life? Bobcats? Coyotes? Deer or Elk? Foxes? Marmots? Raccoons? Skunks? Chukars? Crows or Ravens? Doves or Pigeons? Ducks? Eagles? Geese? Gulls? Hawks? Herons? Hummingbirds? Jays? Ospreys? Owls? Pheasants? Quail? Woodpeckers? Wrens? Bass? Catfish? Crappie? Perch? Trout? Walleye

Environmental Features

The Butte and the surrounding Columbia River channel were carved out of basalt rock by floods following the last ice age. For information on the floods, visit Sun Lakes State Park and the Dry Falls Interpretive Center.

The basalt rock resulted from a series of lava flows which emerged from cracks in the earth's crust and blanketed the entire eastern Washington/Oregon region long before the coming of ice-age floods.

When viewing the cliffs along the river, notice the stratigraphy highlighted by benches rising up the cliffs. Each of these benches, or layers, represents a different lava flow. Some lava flows were hundreds of feet thick in places.

? Ponderosa Pine? Maple? Oak? Poplar? Lupines? Moss or Lichens? Thistle? Poison Oak

The park contains Native American pictographs (paintings) and petroglyphs (carvings). Some of the oldest pictographs in the Northwest are found in this park. Artifacts associated with local tribes can be seen at the nearby Maryhill Museum of Art and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.

Archeological sites and artifacts are protected by both federal and state laws, and their disturbance and/or removal is illegal and carries severe penalties.
History of the Area
For centuries, the park was the site of a Native American village. The Lewis and Clark expedition camped at the village and described its wooden houses in one of their journals. The village was flooded by the waters of The Dalles Dam.

Oral history states that the park received its former name -- Horsethief Lake State Park -- from workers in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who developed the site. The workers thought the terrain was similar to that of horsethief hideouts in popular 1950s Hollywood westerns. The abundance of horses kept on the premises by local Indians apparently gave the workers their inspiration.

The commission combined the park with Dalles Mountain Ranch and renamed the area Columbia Hills State Park in 2003.
Park Store

? Camping? Pay phone? Auto repair? Airport? Camping? Diesel? Fishing/hunting? Gasoline? Gifts? Golf? Groceries? Hardware? Hospital? Overnight Accommodations? Pay phone? Postal service? Propane? Recreational equipment? White gas? Wood? Swimming

Most services are available within 20 miles of the park.
The park has eight partial utility sites, four standard sites, six primitive tent sites, one dump station and one restroom. Maximum site length is 60 feet may have limited availability. In addition, there is one primitive hiker/bicycle camp site. Be aware that it can be very windy in the Columbia River Gorge, and be prepared for such conditions. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

More about park hours Check-in time is 230 p.m., and check-out time is 1 p.m.Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 630 a.m.Engine-driven electric generators may be operated only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.Length of stay You may stay up to ten consecutive days in any one park during the summer the stay limit is extended to 20 days between Oct. 1 and March 31.

Camping fees are Tent sites - $30 // Utility Sites - $35 // Tipi - $40 // Wall Tents - $50.
Watercraft launch reopens April 1.

The park has two boat ramps. Motorized boats are permitted on the lake, but the county has posted a speed limit of 5 m.p.h. for the entire lake.

A daily permit is available for watercraft launching and trailer dumping at the park for $5.Annual permits also may be purchased at State Parks Headquarters in Olympia, at region offices, online, and at parks when staff is available.

Columbia Hills State Park is located near The Dalles

There are 35 unsheltered picnic tables located around the day-use area. Nine braziers are available. Facilities are first-come, first-served.
Nature Programs
Horsethief Lake section of the Columbia Hills State Park is a National Historic Site. Guided tours of the pictographs and petroglyphs Indian rock art 10 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, April to October. Reservations are required. Reservations for walking pictograph tours can be made by calling 509 439-9032. If you reach the answering machine, leave a detailed message with your party size, the dates you have in mind, and your name and phone number. If a ranger does not return your call, call the office again. Do not come for a tour without verbally confirming with a ranger that your reservation has been made. It is advisable to reserve at least two or three weeks in advance, as tours are limited to 25 people and fill up fast. To ensure your desired dates, please call as far in advance as possible.
Area Attractions

? 12.4 mi. Hiking Trails? Boating (freshwater)? Boating (freshwater, non-motorized)? 2 boat ramps (freshwater)? Fishing (freshwater)? Swimming (freshwater)? Bird Watching? 1 Horseshoe pit? Interpretive Activities? Rock Climbing? Sailboarding? Wildlife Viewing

Large shady, grassy lawns are suitable for croquet, soccer, etc. Visitors must bring their own equipment. No horseshoes are provided for the horseshoe pits.

Consult fishing regulations for season information.

This is a fair location for beginning windsurfers who can get high-wind experience without the risks associated with river currents and barge traffic.

The lake is usually open for fishing the last Saturday in April through October 31. Fishermen should consult regulations to be sure of the dates.

Horsethief Butte is a very popular rock-climbing location. Two areas are signed "no climbing" for cultural resource protection. NOTE: Climbers are directed to limit their use of chalk when climbing at the butte.

Be aware that park conditions are often extremely windy.

Some rattlesnakes live in the area, but they are fairly rare. The bullsnake is more common. Its color and markings are similar to a rattlesnake's, but they don't have rattles and they are not venomous.

Watch out for poison oak in the rock climbing areas of the butte. They appear as woody shrubs along the base of some rockwalls. When foliated they have glossy leaves in groups of three and little round white berries.

Spring is tick season. Ticks vary in color from brown to green. Be sure to check for ticks when hiking the guided tour or visiting undeveloped areas.

Archeological sites and artifacts are protected by both federal and state laws, and their disturbance and/or removal is illegal and carries severe penalties.

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Nearby Hotels

Located on the Columbia River on the state's southern border in Klickitat County.

From Oregon:Driving east or west on I-84, take exit #87 and drive north on U.S. 197 across the Columbia River bridge. Continue north about 2.5 miles to SR 14, and turn right, heading east. The park is located at milepost-85.

From Washington:Drive east or west on SR 14 along the Columbia River. The park is located at milepost-85.


Washington State Parks