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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!

An Experience Center Update

April 10, 2018


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We have seen great change in the past few months here at Cottonwood. What exactly has changed since our last post? A lot! No longer is our construction site bare dirt and grass.

The view changes daily as progress is made on the new Experience Center. In the past weeks we have watched eagerly as the walls rise. This week the jewel of Cottonwood is getting its roof!

Work is also moving along on the addition of a restroom/shower building, additional walk-in campsites, four cabins, and a new camp host site.

Oregon Paleo Lands Institute is Now Accepting Hosts!

March 12, 2018
Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 4.28.59 PMOregon State Parks has a formal partnership with the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute in the outback town of Fossil, Oregon!  They are seeking volunteers to fill three 2-month assignments (may/June, July/August, September/October) working out of their Visitor Center and providing interpretive tours for guests.


This is an exciting new position to meet, welcome, and educate visitors and school groups from all over Oregon and the United States.   As you help visitors at the Oregon Paleo Lands Center, you will learn about the spectacular natural/cultural history of the John Day Basin.   The Center will provide you with training and assistance.

The attractive Center is located next to the historic Wheeler Co. Courthouse in downtown Fossil, a friendly, small community (20 miles from Condon, 65 miles from Madras).  The Center is within a short walking distance from a full range of local services such as stores, restaurants, post office, bank, and laundry.

The host position includes free camping at the nearby full hookup Wheeler Co. Fairgrounds RV Park.   The Host will have free use of the Center’s Wi Fi, phone, and office equipment. The Center is an information hub for the John Day Fossil Beds region, Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway, and the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway. You can enjoy the July 4 Bluegrass Festival, local rodeos and fairs May-August.  In your spare time you can explore the area’s exciting recreational opportunities, including the beautiful John Day River, Cottonwood Canyon State Park and John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Host duties include:

  •     Inform, educate and assist visitors/school groups about John Day Basin natural     and cultural history
  •     Assist and inform visitors of local special events including the Memorial Weekend Spray Rodeo, 4th of July      Fossil Bluegrass Festival, August County Fair and Rodeo
  •    Keep the Center open for 4 days a week (Thursday-Sunday) Normal Hours 10AM-4 PM.
  •    Orient visitors to John Day Basin attractions, services, lodging, and campgrounds using the Center’s extensive handouts and guidebooks (these help visitors to use nearby State Parks, Scenic Bikeways/Byways, John Day River, National Monument, National Forests, BLM lands)
  •    Lead short talks & occasional in-town tours: Fossil Museum, Fossil historic sites, Wheeler High Fossil Beds.

More information and a full job description can be found at the Center’s website:

Contact Richard Ross of the OPLI Center with any questions: