Oregon Tourism and Wasco County

Planning staff participated in a series of events sponsored by Travel Oregon in 2016. This series was focused on rural tourism, and ways to improve outreach, coordination, marketing, and more in the Gorge and Eastern Oregon.

Wasco is split into two regions according to Travel Oregon.  The majority of the county is in the Central Oregon region, which connects us to counties to the South, including Deschutes County.  The Columbia River Gorge portion of our county is incorporated into the Mt. Hood/Gorge territory.  Tourism is identified as a strength and a potential opportunity for the region according to Mid Columbia Economic Development District’s recent Economic Development Strategy document.  This encapsulates not only recreational activities in our natural areas, but also visits to wineries, cideries, u-Pick farms, and historical sites.

Travel Oregon produced a series of documents that are available on their website here: http://industry.traveloregon.com/2016-industry-engagement-insights/.

We heard from the workshop series a lot of interest from residents and businesses in more opportunities for recreational and agricultural tourism in Wasco County.    As an existing strength and opportunity for future growth and development, the Planning Department wants to make sure regulations allow for uses and activities that support tourism.

You may see the term agri or agro tourism pop up quite a bit during the Wasco County 2040, and that is in response to the interest expressed by community members. Currently, Wasco County’s land use regulations allow for limited agro-tourism activities. One of the things staff is focused on understanding is how to enable agro-tourism activities and uses without creating conflict from other uses including large-scale commercial agriculture.

Similarly, new recreation demands have indicated to partners a need to develop new facilities or enhance existing parks, trails, and campgrounds.  We have heard from many residents that some activities, including biking and hiking, can have unintended impacts to emergency services, farming, and residences.  In exploring how to continue to support recreation, Planning staff wants to hear about existing conflicts and impacts, and concerns for future impacts to help us better plan.

We encourage you to share your stories and thoughts.  You can connect by attending upcoming events, take our survey, or send us an email.



Wasco County Park Inventory

Wasco County has a variety of recreation facilities, including camping, hiking, fishing and horseback riding parks.

Staff has developed a draft update to the Wasco County Parks inventory listed in the original Comprehensive Plan.


We used this data to help us tell the story of recreation in Wasco County:

Wasco CountyRecreation (1)

Because we were using the best information available, we would love to hear your input on any updates, parks we missed, or information that looks incorrect.

Happy trails!

Recreation in Wasco County: At a Glance

clearlakekayakOne of the Oregon State land use planning goals is Recreation (Goal 8).  Not only is it part of our current Comprehensive Plan, but we anticipate recreation being a critical part of our vision for the future of Wasco County.

The current Comprehensive Plan has an inventory of day use and overnight facilities in Wasco County.  Staff went through an audited this information, and combined with some facts and figures from partners at the State agencies and local organizations, developed the infographic below that demonstrates the importance of recreation in Wasco County.

Along with the many economic and social benefits of recreation to Wasco County residents, businesses and visitors, one of major considerations for Wasco County 2040 will be how to strategically site new recreation facilities or locations against existing infrastructure and public services and facilities.

One land use planning option is to designate an area in the County as a destination resort.  Other recommended strategies for managing and growing recreation using land use planning tools include easements, cluster developments, and evaluating subdivision park land dedication requirements.

Wasco CountyRecreation (1)