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Value 3: Recreation

We value outdoor recreation and the contribution it provides to a happy, healthy, stress-reducing lifestyle.

Benefits 3.1. A place where recreation easily coexists with the wild landscape will be created.

Benefits 3.2. Natural outdoor play on the land and water will be taken to its highest level.

Benefits 3.3. Spaces where visitors can become part of the canyon in a wide variety ways will be provided.

Benefits 3.4. Oregonians with a passion for both traditional and newer outdoor pursuits will be welcomed.

Action 3.1.1

Visitors find the State Park web site has all of the information they need.  Two to five day journeys by horse, raft, mountain bike or foot are offered.  They can schedule on line or talk by phone with State Park staff at Reservations Northwest.  They just need to show up at the rendezvous site in Portland to meet the Cottonwood Canyon van and bring their enthusiasm and outdoor clothes.  Everything they need to bring is described for each journey.  Their car is left at home.  They decide on a three day river trip and book the date.

Action 3.1.2

Wildlife Observation: Since the park contains a variety of wildlife including the largest herd of bighorn sheep in the state and nesting raptors in the canyon, it may be possible to plan for opportunities to allow the public to view wildlife in the area. This might include viewpoints, trails, and guided walks.

Action 3.1.3

A family on a two day backcountry camping trip enjoy a clear view of the night sky.   Looking up from their tent awning the Milky Way is visible with the naked eye.  As your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, over 3,000 stars light up the night (compared to the 200/300 stars when we look up night in our towns/cities).

Action 3.2.1

Allow for a “wilderness” gateway on the edge of the park that safely introduces visitors to Cottonwood before they are immersed in the wild landscape

Action 3.2.2

Open the park for the possibility of alternative off season uses – Cross Country Skiing, Hunting, etc.

Action 3.2.3

Prior to the rafting trip, participants attend an introduction to Cottonwood Canyon and basic canoeing skills at another State Park. This might be Tryon Creek for participants from the Portland area, or Smith Rock for participants from the Bend area, for example. On the night before the trip, participants stay in Condon hotel for a Cottonwood Canyon talk, dinner and good nights rest. The trip length would be designed for a three day outing with stops along the way that tell of story of the John Day. Suggest trips in spring or early summer and in early fall.

Action 3.2.4

Bike riders from Portland go though Cottonwood and spend a night in Conden or Wasco.

Action 3.2.5

Cottonwood Canyon employs volunteer rangers and a “live park” interactive site to assist with the Junior Ranger and Young Scientist programs that reaches over 25,000 children within 100 miles of the park.

Action 3.3.1

Through concessionaires, offer guided boat or raft trips with nature or history experts on-board. One of the best ways to visit and experience the canyon views and wildlife is through a boat trip. For example, a three day float down the John Day river from Clarno, would encounter a new reach of river that is distinctively different.  The shoreline is lined with spike rushes, willows, and cottonwoods. The channel becomes more complex and braided, with seasonal side-channels offering refuge for salmonids such as spring Chinook and summer steelhead.  We are alert to avoid lodging our boats in the large woody debris that form aquatic habitat not found in other reaches.  This renewed riparian area and more complex river reach signals arrival into Cottonwood Canyon, a place where agencies and interests have joined to improve habitat representative of the lower John Day River basin that will inspire more effort throughout the lower basin.  I know we are approaching the river-access only campground where we can camp with some amenities after several days in more primitive conditions.  After unloading the boats, we hike up slope through native bunchgrasses and Basin Big sagebrush to the ridgeline.  Upon twilight, we are able to observe emerging wildlife.  Once rare in this region, Washington ground squirrels and pygmy rabbits scurry across intact cryptogamic crusts. Bighorn sheep are suspended on cliffs across the river.  Pronghorn antelope graze on slopes and as we approach the take out the next day, we are very happy to find our cars have been safely shuttled.

Action 3.3.2

Visitor new to wilderness experience is given instruction in wilderness ethics and camping at park entrance.  With certificate in-hand and by signing the registration book; they can take a 1-2 person tent, find a remote location, enjoy night skies, with a small campfire for a pot on tripod, and a solitude setting for dusk.

Action 3.4.1

Canoe, kayak, and raft trips on the John Day River:  Each type of craft has different limitations for the class of water they can travel through safely. The John Day River in this area has water that varies from class 1 to class 5. This means there are some portions that are suitable for beginning canoers, and some that can be dangerous even for rafts. The development of trips will require planning to develop put in and take out points for boaters.

Action 3.4.2

Overnight group fly fishing expedition.  A local outfitting operation runs concession offering day long and multi-day guided fly fishing trips at Cottonwood Canyon. They to put together custom trips that fufill your dream fly fishing experience: “The remarkable setting that the John Day River offers makes for lifelong memories and great friendships….not to mention the amazing fly fishing John Day River has to offer. And the best part, you get to do it all over the next day. You awake on the banks of the river in Cottonwood Canyon to the smell of a hot and hearty breakfast that is if you didn’t already jump off your cot and wader up for a little early morning fly fishing constitutional. Our typical day on the water includes a streamside lunch and fly fishing until you need rotator-cuff surgery. When your on a John Day River Multi Day Fly Fishing Trip there’s always water around camp if you still got it in you. Our camp accommodates up to ten anglers comfortably and we try to maintain a 2:1 ratio when possible. We especially welcome the non-fisher on the trip; in fact we offer non-fisher trips only, so you can learn with your fellow rookies without ever feeling foolish.”

Action 3.4.3

A person day hiking along the flatlands in solitude enjoys the unbroken silence of the canyon.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Becky Babcock permalink
    August 25, 2010 3:52 pm

    Under action 3.11, you state “Two to five day journeys by horse, raft, mountain bike or foot are offered.” As I read further, I saw more information about raft mountain bike and foot, but I did not see anything further about the horse journey.
    Is there going to be an opportunigy for people to experience the park with horses? I have horses and would be very interested in seeing what options are available to people who have horses.

  2. Stacy Livermore permalink
    November 11, 2010 5:19 pm

    I am SO excited about this new state park! I would like to speak in strong support of equestrian/multi use trails in the area with adequate parking and horse camping facilities (corrals and camp sites.) I’ve ridden a lot near Spray so I can testify to the beauty of the area as we’ve passed through Cottonwood Canyon each time en route. The area is breath-taking in it’s scenery and variety of wildlife. We often see deer and antelope when we are riding, as well as many small mammals, birds, reptiles, etc. We practice “leave no trace” ethics when we are camping and riding are extremely aware of being good stewards of the land.
    Thank you for including equestrians in the planning of this state park as horses and mules have historically been an integral part of this area for farming, ranching, and recreational use.

  3. Tony Pranger permalink
    December 20, 2010 6:28 pm

    This area has historically been used for, and is currently open to hunting for big game and upland birds. I sincerely hope hunting will continue to be a permitted use within the park boundaries. This is one of the few vehicle accessible public lands within the immediate John Day river corridor area, which makes it a very nice option for those willing to hike in order to enjoy a high quality hunting experience for mule deer, chukar, bighorn sheep, etc.

  4. Brian Schenk permalink
    April 21, 2011 3:22 am

    The East Biggs Game Management Unit is the most difficult unit in the state to access for deer hunting. I sure hope that the deer (and bird) hunting opportunities won’t be compromised. None of the locals can hunt deer on private land that borders the east side of the John Day River because the owners of that land charge between $2,000 and $2500 per gun. Please keep the hunting open of what little of it can still be hunted by us ordinary folks!

    • April 21, 2011 2:59 pm

      Understood. We already have temporary rules in place to allow hunting in the park, and will work up permanent rules as the park opens.

      • September 23, 2013 6:14 pm

        If hunting is premitted I hope use of lead ammo is prohibited.; for fishing as well.

      • September 30, 2013 5:08 pm

        Checking on this now. Hunting is permitted. Not sure whether the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has designated this a no-lead area or not.

      • September 30, 2013 8:11 pm

        Lead isn’t allowed in the lower, riverside waterfowl areas of the park, but it is allowed in the uplands, where game birds like chukar hang out.

  5. LindaJNolte permalink
    April 22, 2011 12:37 am

    I don’t see parity for horse riders. Your examples are void of horse experiences. Why not describe a multi day horse packing trip instead of on foot or by canoe or raft?
    Where are TH’s for horses with room for truck and trailer. Horse Camps. How about riding up to a the hotel for lunch, tying the horses at a rail near a water trough. Provide a bucket/bin and forks and we’ll pick up after our horses. They get a rest in the shade and some water. We eat a nice lunch or dinner in the restaurant.

    How did this area get settled? Certainly not without the benefit of horses and horse-drawn wagons.

    • April 22, 2011 3:33 pm

      This values-based approach to planning is a new way of setting the stage for the park, and it sometimes leads to similar kinds of experiences being split up into different value categories. You’ll see horseback experiences called out here (Action 3.1.1), but they’re also found under the Culture+Recreation value (Action 4.1.3) for just the reasons you describe — it was (and is) an important aspect of living here.

      The park plan includes ideas for horse trails and camps, balanced with other kinds of recreation.

  6. LindaJNolte permalink
    April 22, 2011 12:38 am

    I am wondering why comments are being moderated. Mine has a note re being moderated. Is this something new?

    • April 22, 2011 3:03 pm

      It’s be moderated since the start to keep spam from leaking through. We push everything through that’s from a real person, (there have been two exceptions, but they were more direct questions to staff rather than open questions about the park). Thanks.

  7. Jim Broughton permalink
    May 7, 2013 2:13 am

    Your building something for the rich and famous. Not middle to lower income Oregon families.

    • May 10, 2013 3:03 pm

      Thanks for the comment. Most state parks are free for the visitor. Of Oregon’s roughly 200 state parks, 26 charge a fee to park (and it’s just $5 a day, or $30 a year). Cottonwood will be one of the parks that doesn’t have a daytime parking fee. Of course, no park is free to operate. It costs money to take care of a special place like this. We’re not funded by taxes, but by four things, and three are in the form of money: revenue from visitors, the state lottery, and a share of the RV registration fee. The fourth fund source is human: volunteers. People who want parks to remain affordable can help make that happen by volunteering their time, or making a donation.

  8. Tom permalink
    September 30, 2013 11:46 pm

    As do scavengers that may ingest the poisonous lead pellets and bullet fragments while feeding on the carcuss of wounded game that fly/run off and not recovered by the shooters.Copper shot/bullets are safe alternative.

  9. August 23, 2014 1:14 am

    There’s certainly a great deal to know about this issue.
    I really like all of the points you made.

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