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Washington State Parks

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Volcano Country Region
Columbia Hills Historical State Park
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Columbia Hills Historical State Park © Ian Poellet / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A waterfall in Columbia Hills State Park, Washington, United States.
Columbia Hills Historical State Park © Jeffhollett / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Dalles Mountain Ranch at Columbia Hills Historical State Park in Washington in The Pacific Northwest Landscapes in The West by Jeff Hollett
Columbia Hills Historical State Park © Jeffhollett / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Horsethief Butte at Columbia Hills Historical State Park in Washington in The Pacific Northwest Landscapes in The West by Jeff Hollett
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85 Washington 14
Lyle, Washington   98635
(lat:45.6427 lon:-121.1056) map location

Phone: 509-773-3145
Columbia Hills State Park which includes the Horsethief Lake area and Dalles Mountain Ranch area is a 3,637-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.
Nature of the Area
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.

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.
A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to Washington state parks for day use. For more information about the Discover Pass and exemptions, please visit the Discover Pass web page.
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 Historical State Park is located near The Dalles

There are 35 unsheltered picnic tables located around the day-use area at Horsethief Lake. 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 9 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, April to October. Reservations are required. Reservations for walking pictograph tours can be made by clicking here. If you have a group larger than 20, please call the area office at 509-773-3145 and leave a detailed message with your party size, the dates you have in mind, your name and phone number. If park staff does not return your call within a week, call the office again. Do not come for a tour without a reservation email for each person. It is advisable to reserve at least two or three weeks in advance, as tours are limited to 20 people and fill up fast. To ensure your desired dates, please call as far in advance as possible.

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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.

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Washington State Parks