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State Recreation Area

Near Portland, Oregon, United States
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Benson State Recreation Area stretches along the southern shore of the Columbia River, a mile west of Multnomah Falls. The park features a disc golf course, a reservable group picnic shelter and a peaceful lake for swimming and fishing.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks Benson Lake with thousands of fish from March to October. A paved path from the parking lot leads to an accessible fishing dock. Benson Lake has no dock and allows non-motorized boating only (boats must be carried a short distance).

The park’s namesake is lumberman Simon Benson, who donated the land. One of the principal promoters of the Historic Columbia River Highway, he helped fund several other landmarks in Portland and the Gorge, including Benson Bridge that crosses Multnomah Falls.

Note: The park is accessible to eastbound traffic only, from exit #30.

mdi-alert-outline General Advisory
mdi-white-balance-sunny Open for day use year round mdi-currency-usd
Day-use parking permit required
(purchase 1-day permit on site)
Day-use parking permit
(1-day purchased on-site)
Buy annual permit
mdi-cellphone Call for reservations: 800-452-5687
Call for info: 800-551-6949
Call park: 503-695-2261
Current Conditions Directions Feedback

Amenities & Features


mdi-help-circle-outline General

Did you know in 2012 our park participated in customer surveys?

According to a 2012 survey of park visitors:

94% of our customers describe being "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with their overall experience at Benson State Recreation Area.

93% of our customers reported that they were either "very likely" or "likely" to return to Benson State Recreation Area in the future.

One customer commented, "We come here often to kayak, canoe and swim, as well as picnic. It's a perfect place for family get togethers. It is inclusive of all people. We always see a diversity of families when we visit this park and I'm glad everyone can feel welcome and safe here. Thank you for maintaining such a wonderful park. "

How do I pay day use fee?

Please be aware that our Fee Machine takes credit cards ONLY.

How do I reserve the picnic shelter?

Reservations may be made 1 day to 6 months ahead of time.  The picnic shelter at Benson State Park is reservable through online reservations (available 365 days a year, opening at midnight every day)  or by calling (800) 452-5687 (Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service 800-735-2900 for the hearing impaired), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

mdi-help-circle-outline What's Allowed

Can I bring my boat?

Yes, but no motorized boats on the Benson Lake or Hartman Pond.  There is no boatlaunch, carry in boats only.

Can I fly my drone in the park?

Please call the park office at 503-695-2261 for park specific rules.

Can I metal detect?

No metal detecting is permitted in West Columbia Gorge State Parks.

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Can I bring my dog?

Yes! Please keep on a leash at all time.  Sorry, no dogs in the water though.

mdi-help-circle-outline Day use/Special Events

How do I get a Special Use Permit?

This park requires a Special Use Permit for special events or activities. Please open the Special Use Permit application to see examples of events that need a permit.  If you have questions about whether you need a special use permit for your activity and to receive instructions on how to submit the application, please call 503-695-2261.

For more questions, review our statewide FAQ


Park property was acquired between 1939 and 1977, including gifts from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and Rueben and Rose Lenske. Early developments in the park were carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1933 and 1935. Further development began in 1950 with day-use facilities and improvements for swimming in the lake on Multnomah Creek. In 1977, the State Highway Division acquired additional acreage through purchase. The park is named for Simon Benson (1852-1942), a native of Norway who became a logging operator, roads advocate, and philanthropist. He was the first chairman of the citizen State Highway Commission which superseded the State Board of Control in 1917. In Portland he constructed the Benson Hotel , endowed Benson Polytechnic High School and gave 20 bronze drinking fountains (Benson Bubblers) to the city. Benson once owned a portion of the present park. .

Brochures and Maps

mdi-file-pdf-box Columbia Gorge Visitor Guide