CORBETT, Ore. -- Months after the Eagle Creek Fire came close to destroying it, the Multnomah Falls Lodge has reopened to the public.
It's up and running and will allow visitors back starting Wednesday. But those visitors will notice some changes when they return.
For one, they will only be able to access the lodge through the Oregon Department of Transportation parking lot along Interstate 84. The historic Columbia River Highway is still closed in that area.
Once that parking lot is full, its gates will automatically shut. But if you're able to get a parking spot there, you will be able to access the lodge and the plaza around it.
Once it reopens, the lodge will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
"We're very excited," said Jill Buck, vice president of the Multnomah Falls Company. "It's like the end is near. This has been a three-month journey."
The journey started in early September when the Eagle Creek Fire raged through the Gorge, its flames coming within feet of the lodge.
Since then, crews have been working to repair the smoke-damaged building and stabilize the weakened slope behind it.
They put up a temporary barrier to protect the lodge, but the popular viewing area and the trials leading up to the falls will remain closed through at least the end of the year. The U.S. Forest Service says there are still too many hazards in those areas to allow visitors access.
"First we'll get people to the lodge, right now it's safe to do that," said Ryan Cole, an engineering geologist with the U.S. Forest Service. "Then we're going to start work on our rock fall barriers, and once everything is in place we are going to start phasing people further and further up the slopes."
Photos: Eagle Creek Fire
It's news that folks in Troutdale, known as the Gateway to Gorge, couldn't be happier to hear.
It's been a tough few months for businesses, like the Troutdale General Store, that depend on visitors to the gorge. But a reopening of Multnomah Falls in time for the holidays is exactly what they've been hoping for.
"I think instantly we're going to see twice as many people in town as we've had," said Terry Smoke, who owns the General Store. "This is such a good thing because we lost weeks and weeks where it was really pretty quiet."
It's what so many have been waiting for: A chance to see the spectacular site up close again.
"This is such a big key part of our gorge," said Smoke. "To have Multnomah Falls - it's just perfect."
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