Horsethief Lake

Columbia Hills State Park Horsethief Lake
Horsethief Lake

Columbia Hills State Park at Horsethief Lake
County: Klickitat

  • Near The Dalles, OR and Goldendale, WA
  • 18 Camp sites
  • Power & water avail.
  • Dumping site avail.
  • Fishing
  • Bathrooms
  • Picnic areas
  • Swimming

The park was once known as “Horsethief Lake,” not because of any history of horse thieving, but because it was thought it looked like the television western’s version of an outlaw hideout. The park was built in 1964 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the completion of The Dalles Dam in 1957. In 2003 Washington State parks changed the name to Columbia Hills State Park.

Location:

Columbia Hills State Park is located 2 miles east of Hwy. 197 on State Route 14, between Dallesport and Wishram. It is not far from The Dalles Bridge Junction. The park is just a short trip to The Dalles, Oregon across the bridge junction, or Goldendale, in Washington, for those who prefer overnighting in a hotel or motel. Nearby you will find wineries, the Maryhill Museum of Arts and a full scale replica of Stonehenge.

Facilities
Columbia Hills State Park at Horsethief Lake
Camping at Columbia Hills State Park Horsethief Lake

The park is spacious and has excellent facilities for campers, RVs, and boats. Park activities include hiking, rock climbing, swiming, picnicking, and camping. There are 18 camp sites, 8 with power and water and 10 standard sites. A trailer dumping station is available near the gate entrance to the park.

The park is open April through October, and is closed in the winter from November through March.

Petroglyphs and the Temani Pesh-wa Trail

petroglyphtrailOne of the most notable features of Columbia Hills State Park is the Temani Pesh-wa Trail. This is an interpretive display of Native American rock art, petroglyphs and pictographs.

A “petroglyph” is a rock carving. A “pictograph” is a painting on rock. You will find both along the Temani Pesh-wa Trail.

The majority of the petroglyphs are easily accessible and viewable from the road. The exception is Tsagaglalal, or “She Who Watches.” This amazing and iconic rock art may only be viewed while accompanied by a park ranger, and the trail is monitored by video camera.

The public had unrestricted access to view the rock art until 1993, when vandalism threatened to destroy these irreplaceable pieces of our heritage.

The petroglyphs are considered sacred by the Native American tribes. According to Pat Gold, Native American historian, some of the images, such as the Speedis Owl, are associated with specific families.

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Columbia River Gorge Commission,Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (US Forest Service), and Klickitat County have all worked to create a management plan designed to preserve and protect the Rock Art at Columbia Hills State Park.

Temani Pesh-wa Trail

Ointerpretivesign_lgne of the most notable features of Columbia Hills State Park is the Temani Pesh-wa Trail. This is an interpretive display of Native American rock art, petroglyphs and pictographs.

A “petroglyph” is a rock carving. A “pictograph” is a painting on rock. You will find both along the Temani Pesh-wa Trail.

The majority of the petroglyphs are easily accessible and viewable from the road. The exception is Tsagaglalal, or “She Who Watches.” This amazing and iconic rock art may only be viewed while accompanied by a park ranger, and the trail is monitored by video camera.

The public had unrestricted access to view the rock art until 1993, when vandalism threatened to destroy these irreplaceable pieces of our heritage.

The petroglyphs are considered sacred by the Native American tribes. According to Pat Gold, Native American historian, some of the images, such as the Speedis Owl, are associated with specific families.

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Columbia River Gorge Commission,Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (US Forest Service), and Klickitat County have all worked to create a management plan designed to preserve and protect the Rock Art at Columbia Hills State Park.

Tours

temani_pesh-wa_trail_smViewing of the rock art is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week, April through October. The main viewing area is available by wheelchair.

The Pictograph Trail (“She Who Watches”) is only available through guided tours on Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m., April through October. Reservations are required for the guided tours.

If your group is interested in one of the limited number of guided tours of the site, please contact the park in advance to make a reservation. Calling 3-4 weeks in advance is recommended. Tours begin at 10 a.m. and take approximately one and a half hours. The tour is free, but donations are always welcome. Comfortable shoes are recommended. The petroglyph trail does not meet ADA standards. School groups must have adult chaparones.

Contact: Columbia Hills State Park
(509) 767-1159
P.O. Box 426,
Dallesport, WA 98617
Email: columbia.hills@parks.wa.gov.

Filming or publication of the rock art images requires a $100 application fee and permission of the tribes. The application form P&R O-344 can be obtained at the park offices, or by contacting:

Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission
7150 Cleanwater Lane
PO Box 42664
Olympia, WA 98504

Source: Washington State Parks Handout