Know Before you Go

Cottonwood Canyon State Park is a spectacular place.  Here are some things to think about to protect yourself, the land, and the animals who call Cottonwood Canyon State Park home.

7 Ways to Care for Yourself and the park

1.  Know before you go

  • Lock up:  It’s a fact; criminals exist, even out here.  It’s best to leave your valuables at home.  If you need to bring them, secure your valuables in your trunk or carry them.
  • Carry water up:  Central Oregon climate is dry and in the summer it gets hot. Trailheads in the park do not have water, bring plenty and drink often.
  • Weather up: Check the forecast before you go.
  • Dress up:  Dress in layers and be prepared. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Know what to wear for the conditions.
  • Map up: With over 10,000 acres of public land and miles of trail, it’s easy to get lost. Know where you are. Print our download electronic maps ahead of your arrival.
  • Pack up:  Bring your first aid kit, a map, proper clothing, water, and a food. Cottonwood is isolated and serviced are up to 30 minutes away.

2.  Stick to trails

  • Stay on trails:  In addition to damaging plants and confusing those who follow you, leaving trails exposes you (and us, your rescuers) to dangerous conditions.
  • Leaving note:  Before you head out, leave a paper or electronic note.  Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.  Plans changed?  Let your person know!  Sign in and out at marked trailheads.

There is NO cell service at Cottonwood Canyon, so don’t count on your phone for help.

If you get lost, STOP walking.  Stay in one place until you are found.  That way searchers will find you sooner and you will be less likely to get hurt.  Some things that might be helpful to hike with would be a trash bag (to use as shelter or a rain poncho), a whistle, and a signal mirror.  If you hear someone yelling or blowing a whistle, yell back!  If you hear a helicopter, go out in the open and make yourself BIG.  Wave your arms, put on brightly colored clothing, or make a big X on the ground out of sticks.

3.  Trash your trash and scoop the poop

  • Pack out what you pack in
  • Clean up after your pet.

4.  Leave it as you find it

  • Take pictures and memories, and leave only the print of your shoe.
  • Remove hitchhikers:  The seed kind.  Invasive plants threaten park ecology.  Check your boots after your hike. 
  • Pay it forward:  Feeling ambitious?  Pack out someone else’s trash or doggy doo bag (never pick up anything dangerous, let a ranger know where it is); or volunteer for a restoration project.

5.  Be mindful with fire

  • Many public lands prohibit fires.  Here at State Parks, we prohibit fires outside of fire rings and when fire danger is extreme.
  • If a fire is permitted in the area you’re visiting, make sure to keep an eye on it and put it out, dead out, before walking away.  Put your fire out before you go to bed if you’re camping.  Remember tiki torches are not allowed at any time.
  • Keep in mind:  Any fire (or spark) can start a fire.  This could be anything from a smoldering cigarette or a candle to a spark from your engine on dry grass.

* The park manager may place temporary restrictions on fires in the park during high fire danger – especially in the summer when its hot, dry and windy.

6.  Keep wildlife wild

  • Leash your pets:  This keeps your pets, others’ pets, and wildlife safe.  There is an off-leash area in the park day use area.
  • When wild animals are scared, they bite, scratch, claw, sting and kick.  Teach your children not to pet, pick up or hold any wild animals no matter how cute and cuddly they appear.
  • Resist feeding animals. These animals can become aggressive and will attack. 
  • Be aware of hazardous animals. Cottonwood Canyon is home to cougar, bobcat, coyote, rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widow spiders, and many other wild animals that can injure/kill.

7. Share the Park

  • People come to Cottonwood for may reasons. Fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, and star gazing to name a few. Be courteous of others and remember to have fun!

8. Know Who to Ask

  • Park Ranger and Camp Hosts are here to help. For questions and concerns, see our staff.
  • In the event of an emergency, contact park staff. Though communications are limited within the park, staff are able to contact outside resources for additional help.