Illia Dunes, Granite Point to close through Labor Day

Courtesy: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

CLARKSTON, Wash. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday it would close two riverside recreation areas popular with WSU students returning to the Pullman area.

Illia Dunes Recreation Area and Granite Point will be closed from Friday, Aug. 21 until Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Little Goose Lock and Dam and Lower Granite Lock and Dam announced.

The move is designed to put a lid on large end-of-summer parties at the locations, known to students as “the dunes” and “the cliffs.” College-age partygoers historically gather there along the Snake River in very large numbers during hot summertime weekends.

The Walla Walla District of the Corps says COVID-19 concerns and public safety are the drivers behind its decision, citing “historic issues with overcrowding during this timeframe with local college students returning to the area for fall classes.”

Illia Dunes saw some 700 people during the same time period in 2019 and more than 3,000 in 2014, Corps officials estimated, adding the parking lot at Granite Point overflows into the road.

Other recreation areas will stay open; the Corps — along with public health and law enforcement officials — are urging proper social distancing.

The Dunes and the Cliffs will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 8.