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Starvation Lane Takeout Open

November 5, 2018

After an exceptionally dry summer, water levels have again risen in the John Day River. The gate at the end of Starvation Lane is now open for the season.

Be sure to check weather and river flow before your trip. Remember, a float permit is required year round. Permits are available from the BLM online. Happy floating!

Fire Ban Over

October 15, 2018

Campfires are now permitted at Cottonwood Canyon State Park and surrounding properties.

Please remember to stay fire smart! Burn only in designated fire pits/BBQ stands or use an approved fire pan.

Keep fires out of dry grass, and make sure to completely extinguish all fires before leaving.

Going Dark for Perseids

August 3, 2018

Every year the Perseids Meteor Shower dazzles those who care to gaze up at the night sky; this year is no different.

The height of the Perseis’ meteor shower will be the night of August 11th and 12th this year. With an almost new moon, it should be easy to see up to 100 meteors per hour.

Far away from disturbing city lights, and close enough for a weekend trip, Cottonwood Canyon is a popular destination for star gazers. Warm, quiet nights in the desert make for a truly magical experience.

This year, we will be turning out the lights! To better serve those looking for dark skies, we will be turning off all unessential lights within the park over the Perseids peak weekend.

Before arrival, we recommend checking area fire conditions. At times smoke can enter the area making star viewing difficult. As always, any questions can be answered by commenting here, or calling the park at (541) 394-0002.

Starvation Lane Takeout Closure begins July 12th

July 12, 2018

Effective July 12th, the seasonal closure of the Starvation Lane takeout will be in effect.

The gate at the end of Starvation Lane will be closing on July 12th due to low water conditions. This seasonal closure, coordinated with Sherman County, will remain in effect until river levels rise in the mid-late fall.

The river will be inaccessible to vehicles and trailers. Those with small watercraft such as kayaks or float tubes may still use the takeout by carrying watercraft to the parking area from the waters edge.

Those interested in floating this section of river during summer months can access the waters edge with a trailer/vehicle at the McDonald Crossing takeout near river mile 20.


Fire Ban Begins at Cottonwood and Surrounding Area

May 31, 2018

Effective June 1st, a fire ban is in effect for all of Sherman and Gilliam Counties. This ban includes lands within Cottonwood Canyon State Park and the Surrounding Bureau of Land Management properties.

With the weather heating up, and the rain slowing down;  fires start with ease and move quickly. We are working in cooperation with local governments to protect land, life, and property.

What we allow:

  • Propane grills
  • Propane fire rings placed inside of campsite fire rings

What is banned:

  • Smoking outside of campsites
  • Any open flame: tiki torches, candles, campfires etc.
  • Charcoal
  • All campfires
  • Any item/activity which may produce spark, fire, or embers

Please keep in mind these additional precautions:

  • Douse any flames completely and allow to cool. DO NOT throw ashes in dumpsters or into fields
  • Driving through grass WILL start fires

The staff and volunteers at Cottonwood Canyon thank you for your cooperation. Remember, safety starts with you!

Old Meets New at Cottonwood Canyon

May 18, 2018


Cottonwood Canyon may be Oregon’s newest State Park, but that doesn’t mean we have forgotten the past. With the addition of this 1948 Ford pickup truck, we have one more story to tell and a new life for an old workhorse.

Originally purchased by Mary’s uncle; Frank Sayrs, and used as a farm truck, it was eventually retired to the field. Mary and Bo had a desire to see the truck continue life in the public eye. Now displayed near the Lone Tree Campground, it will look forward to a future of welcoming visitors from across the country.

A big thank you goes out to local Wasco residents, and long-time Cottonwood Camp Hosts Bo and Mary Macnab for their donation.

Oregon State Parks Day, June 2nd

May 14, 2018

Less than a month away, State Parks Day is just around the corner. June 2nd of this year all Oregon State Parks will be offering free camping (excluding cabins, tepees, and yurts) and day use. Come and see us!