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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:

  • Charcoal Briquettes used inside of designated fire rings, started with lighter fluid
  • 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.
  • Lump 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:

Please, Excuse our Dust!

January 27, 2018


The day has finally come. Construction has begun on the Cottonwood Canyon Experience Center!

The next few months will be filled with change here at Cottonwood. The addition of 4 cabins, a restroom/shower building, additional campsites, and of course the long awaited Experience Center will be a welcome and exciting addition.

A special thanks goes out to the many donors and volunteers who have made this day possible!

Campers and day visitors should be aware that with this addition, comes additional noise. Construction times will be limited to standard 8am – 5pm work hours. With a Monday through Saturday schedule during the winter and early spring months.

During mid-spring spring and into summer, work hours will remain 8am – 5pm, but with work days reduced to Monday – Friday. Limited, and short interruptions in the availability of potable water in the campground may occur. But water will remain available at all times in the day use area.

Final completion of this project is mid-august of 2018, and of course pictures of the progress will be posted!

Join us for a First Day Hike!

December 14, 2017


It’s that time of year again. The temperature drops, and out come the gloves, coats and boots. Come join us for an annual Oregon State Parks tradition!

We will be hiking part of the Pinnacles Trail. Starting from our authentic ranch barn, the trail follows the John Day river canyon through stunning geologic formations in a natural desert landscape. Look closely for Mule Deer, Red Tailed Hawk, and our resident herd of California Bighorn Sheep.

We will be meeting at 10am starting from the park Information Station, conveniently located next to the big red barn. Resister now at!