The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area was set aside by congress with strong limitation on development to keep the gorge from being over-developed. It is hard to build outside of the townships within the NSA. Each township, such as Lyle, can continue to develop as they see fit within their borders. This is a real draw to the area. The beauty of the gorge, in general, is protected, yet I can build on the Lyle bluff where you can see the river and gorge and still be in a small community.
The National Scenic Area Web Site is a great source for history, trails, and points of interest.