Date Of Stay: October 1, 2015
At Exit 97 on Interstate 84 (east or wast), Celilo Park sits directly on the banks of the Columbia River. The park is run by the Army Corps of Engineers. Camping is free for up to 14 days. However, there are no amenities and no hook ups. There are flush toilets but no showers. The railroad tracks directly behind the park are very active, all day and all night. Interstate 84 and the railroad tracks run parallel to one another, so there is a lot of traffic noise as well. And, it is very windy. This is the gorge, after all.
When I stayed there overnight there were four other campers, including someone living out of his car, and one woman who appeared to have set up a homestead and had clearly outstayed her 14-day limit.
The parking lot designated for campers is not well-lit, and I saw no security patrols or anyone working at the park. However, I was never concerned for my safety; campers left each other alone.
There is a boat ramp at the far end of the park, and boaters are quite active in the early morning hours, passing the campsites on the way to the ramp.
I stayed at Celilo Park after being evacuated due to a fire at Horsethief Lake. I needed a place to lay my head for the night. If you are just “making miles” and need to rest, Celilo Park is a good option. However, I would not make it a destination, and I would not stay for more than one day.