Horsethief Lake State Park Travel Guide

  • The
    The "Octopus Cat" in its Natural Home
    by glabah
  • Scaup on Horsethief Lake, September 2013
    Scaup on Horsethief Lake, September 2013
    by glabah
  • Turkey Vulture Dries Wings while Raven Watches
    Turkey Vulture Dries Wings while Raven...
    by glabah

Horsethief Lake State Park Things to Do

  • Ancient Stone Carvings: petroglyphs

    In the days before the Columbia River was flooded to make electricity, a set of ancient stone carvings existed in a canyon above the river - far enough to seem distant but close enough that they would be flooded after The Dalles Dam was completed. Just before the river was flooded, some of them were moved in order to preserve their viewability....

  • The Dalles Mountain Ranch

    Sometime in 2007, Horsethief Lake State Park found itself in possession of several thousand acres of ranch land and a historic ranch that has been above the park for well over 100 years. While the ranch has had some modernizations happen at it over the years, it also was kept in a reasonably historic state so the historic nature of what was kept is...

  • Horsethief Butte: Rock Climbing

    I am no rock climber, and so I can give you no real useful information about Horsethief Butte and its rock climbing features. However, I can tell you that it is a fairly popular place for rock climbers, and it is a rare day to look upon the rock and not see someone dangling from its sides by ropes.The trail to access Horsethief Butte is accessed...

  • Horsethief Butte: Trail 2/3 Around the...

    While Horsethief Butte is known as a rock climbing spot, there is a somewhat level trail that goes approximately 2/3 of the way around the base of the upper rock outcrop of the butte. For the most part, this trail is level, but the last 30 feet or so descent very steeply, and then end abruptly at the edge of a cliff. WHEN YOU GET TO THIS END OF THE...

  • Boat Launch Ramp and Fishing

    The area around Horsethief Lake State Park has been a popular fishing spot for at least 5,000 years, and possibly longer than that. While the First Nations fishing grounds are now buried under the deep waters of The Dalles Dam, it is still a popular place to catch fish.To that end, there are two boat launch ramps at Horsethief Lake State Park. One...

  • Picnic Areas

    There are two picnic areas in Horsethief Lake State Park.The main one is located near the campground, and is surrounded by trees to give it a bit of shelter from the very strong wind that blows through the Columbia River Gorge. Here, there is open grass for games of all sorts, and a set of restrooms that include flush toilets and pay showers.The...


Horsethief Lake State Park Transportation

  • Horsethief Butte: Small Loop Parking...

    The main entrance to Horsethief Lake State Park / Cascade Hills State Park is located in a well marked area approximately 2 (about 3 km) east of The Dalles and highway 14 interchange with US 197. Approximately 1 mile east of that you will encounter a separate paved parking area that is the parking area for the Horsethief Butte trail. Here you will...

  • Driving to Horsethief Lake only option

    BEFORE YOU VIST:Understand that the pictograph trail is only available by making a reservation with the Washington State Parks department, using the phone number listed on that tip. Tours are only operated Fridays and Saturdays. Be sure to read other material about the tour and park.Understand that the park closes during November, December,...

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Horsethief Lake State Park Warnings and Dangers

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    Assorted Dangers: Use some Sense

    by glabah Updated Sep 29, 2013

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    The first thing you need to be aware of is that the railroad line through the southern edge of the park is a mainline railroad, and the speed limit is 80 miles per hour (though almost all trains go through here slower than this). Don't do anything stupid around the tracks, and certainly don't let your children wander around on them.

    The lake was once a very steeply sloping canyon, before the dam was built and created the lake. The water is quite deep in places, and it certainly isn't anything you would want to fall into. Some places are very sheer drops, and it may not even be possible to get out in places.

    There are rattle snakes among the rocks here. This is the most obvious danger to anyone walking anywhere in the park, but especially among the rocks on Horsethief Butte and similar locations. They are not especially aggressive snakes, and give a warning before striking, so all you really need to do is not step on them while they are sunning themselves.

    Be sure to read all the warning signs: if you do anything that disturbs the Native American art, or wander past the fence where unsupervised people are allowed, you can be fined up to $250,000.00, or face imprisonment. There has been enough damage to artifacts highly prized by the local Native American tribes that violations of the fence are taken very seriously.

    Railroad Crossing in Horsethief Lake State Park Lake in Forground once a Deep Canyon before Dam Railroad Line through Horsethief Lake State Park Horsethief Butte offer many fall hazards for kids Yes, Trains do Come Through Here
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    • Arts and Culture
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Horsethief Lake State Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Dallas Mountain Ranch: Farm Equipment...

    Even today, it isn't exceptional to find a few forgotten pieces of farm equipment sitting out in the fields of eastern Oregon and Washington. This rather different display of farm equipment has taken a few such items from local collections, and placed them in a similar "abandoned equipment" outdoor display. However, the equipment is actually...

  • Bird Watching at Horsethief Lake,...

    While the area isn't frequently mentioned as a bird watching hot spot, the fact is that Horsethief Lake and the Cascade Hills part of the park does get some bird life, especially in winter months.The trees around the picnic area and camping area may have a number of birds in them, including golden crowned kinglets and flickers.The water of...

  • The Dalles Mountain Paraglide Launch...

    There really isn't too much to this location. It is literally a wide spot in the road - enough space for several vehicles at most. Slightly up the hill from the parking place there is a sign board indicating that this is in fact a state park facility, and there is a single picnic table. A small trail has been worn in the ground cover.The site has...


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