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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!

Volunteer Projects+Wildflowers=Spring

March 23, 2016

With spring in the air the Cottonwoods cry to be planted. Wildflowers shout for visitors to marvel at the colors of a desert landscape. OK, made not crying Cottonwoods and shouting flowers but Spring is great out here at Cottonwood.

Thanks to Oregon Parks Go Guide for the great article, and the avid hikers at for sharing  suggestions for some great Spring Cottonwood adventures.
Please come out for another Cottonwood Planting April 23rd in partnership with Western Rivers Conservancy and Solve. We promise to stop and let you smell the wild roses.

Volunteer Day Details
Saturday, April 23rd; 10am to 3pm  
Type of Work: Plant, run drip irrigation lines and cage Cottonwood cuttings.
Meeting area: Cottonwood Canyon State Park visitor’s center
What to bring: Heavy leather work gloves; closed toe shoes; long sleeve shirts and pants; lunch, water and snacks
Volunteer slots available: 15
Oregon Parks and Recreation will provide: All materials and tools. (And hopefully great weather!)
RSVP Deadline: Thursday, April 14th–please RSVP by using the comments section


First Day; Great Day

January 6, 2016

We had another great First Day Hike out here at ol’ Cottonwood with around 25 folks braving the cold and ice. There were familiar faces to catch up with and new faces to meet. It was great to show off some of the improvements we made last year–like Cottonwood plantings, new all accessible gravel trails and an expansion of the interpretive displays.

Thanks to the volunteers and staff who made these happen.

If you missed the hike there is always next year. . . And we are always open. The largely snow free trails are screaming “Hike don’t ski”.

Remember November

January 6, 2016

Our November hosts Elizabeth Daniel and Jim Deaton wrote this for the blog several weeks ago, and I am now just getting it on the site. My appologies for the delay. However my lack of punctuality has done nothing to sully the incredible work this couple did during their stay. The photos are breathtaking Elizabeth. Thank you!

November Reflections at Cottonwwo



You Otter Come Out

December 30, 2015

The otters are out. And so should you! Join us on our yearly First Day Hike this Friday (January 1st). We will be meeting at the Welcome Center at 11 AM and enjoying a leisurely non-strenuous hike for about 2 miles.

Looks like it will be COLD and sunny–dress warm!

IMG_0641 (2)IMG_0643 (2)


And maybe we will see the otters like we did this morning. . .

First Day Hike

December 9, 2015

Getting a little cabin crazy? Want to walk off those Holiday cookies? Start the year with a little outside time? Join us for our annual First Day Hike on January 1st–11 AM meeting at the Visitor Center. Last year was cold, clear and the Bighorn Sheep came out to join us!  Let’s hope for the same this year–maybe not the cold part.


Bird’s the word

November 25, 2015

November Volunteer Hosts Elizabeth Daniel and Jim Deaton

In gratitude to our fallen feathered fowl who will, no doubt, adorn many a table and fill a fleet of gravy boats this Thursday of thanks, our resident photographer and wildlife advocate Elizabeth Daniel has also boiled down a pot of feathered photos that’s tastier than grandma’s marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar.


Mmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmmm. That’s sweet.

On Nov. 8, I asked Elizabeth to come up with 30 birds in 30 days. And she did her best given that it is only now Nov. 25.  The best part was getting to pester her daily. She’s a good sport, but a better photographer and friend. She has come through for us with her point and shoot. Quite well, I say.

We have done our best to identify some of these birds. But we are not ornithologists at this time. If we have made an error in our identification, please look past our deficiency and bask in the insane variety of colors, sizes, shapes and niche these birds employ in our natural world.

2014-11-15  2049  unknown probably a flycatcher yes

Possibly a flycatcher in amongst the thorns of a ranger-favorite locust tree. Note to self, bring iodine for next pruning project.

2015-11-07  2960  Chipping Sparrow

Chipping sparrows in Elderberry.

2015-05-10  0059  Northern Oriole

Northern Oriole – known for their nests or twine, fishing line, etc. that hang in trees like giant cocoons.

2015-05-18  0038  Killdeer

Killdeer will always lead you astray.

2014-11-20  0014  various finches yes

Finches appear to be embarrassed. Probably saw our ranger  cuttin’ a rug while planting some native grass.

2014-11  2042  Bufflehead maybe yes

Bufflehead taking on some water.

2014-11-14  2035 tundra swans yes

Tundra Swan stopped in for a swim

2014-11-14  2077  Townsend's Solitaire yes

Townsend’s Solitaire true to its namesake.

2015-04-01  2110 yes

Canada goose

2015-04-18  6581  Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

2015-04-20  0006  Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

2015-05-12  0039  Lazuli Bunting yes

Lazuli Bunting

2015-05-24  0042  California Quail yes

California Quail

2015-05-18  0080  Says Phoebe youngsters

Says Phoebe youngsters

2015-11-07  2993  Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

2015-05-25  0013  Female Yellow Headed Blackbird

Yellow headed blackbird

2015-11-07  3002  Canyon Wren yes

Canyon Wren

2015-11-07  3015  unknown  cowbird

2015-11-10  3166  canadian geese yes

The best work – teamwork

2015-11-10  3163  Northern Flicker yes

Northern Flicker

2015-11-10  3164  Kestral yes


2015-11-10  3206  Oregon Junco yes

Oregon Junco

2015-11-24  3540 white crowned sparrow

White Crowned Sparrow

2015-11-03  2846

2015-05-24  0045


2014-11  Robins in Hackberry

Rockin’ Robbins – tweedley tweedley deet.

2015-11-09  3112rock wren yes

Rock Wren

2015-11-07  3059  white crowned sparrow yes

White Crowned Sparrow