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An Update–Finally

September 1, 2014

We have fallen behind on the blog—every time we tried to emerge from the weeds, it seems like we get pulled back down by the puncture vine. Or tangled by the Russian thistle. Or strangled by the Kochia.

Our emphasis this summer has been on managing the invasive weeds while watering the natives. Unfortunately, water brings more weeds. Double-edged sword. No doubt, we are looking forward to the winter lull. On the whole, we have been keeping up, and hopefully this will start to reflect in fewer flat tires. Puncturevine, lesser known as Tribulus Terrestris, has truly been a thorn in our side. First generation Star Trek fans may harken back to the well-known episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
Here at the Ol’ CWC, were calling our version of overpopulation of goat’s head “The trouble with Tribulus”.

So please continue to use Slime and carry several spare tubes! We are doing our best to rid the park of this nuisance.

In that vein, we give a big shout out to Sherman and Gilliam County Oregon Youth Conservation Corps plus our fearless hosts. These folks have done the weed pulling and watering in hundred degree heat. And you know what hand pulling puncture vine and watering by hand gets you? Tired. Hundreds and hundreds of hours have been given. We are very thankful for these folks. We can’t do it without them.

This fall and continuing through the winter we are hoping to do several projects, which will hopefully have a big impact on the camping experience at Cottonwood. The first of these projects will be constructing wind breaks in campsites. The second is the completion of two shade shelters, one in the main campground and one in the hiker/biker camp. The third is working to establish better grass cover in the campground.

At this time, we are scheduled to construct cabins, a shower house and an RV dump station between 2015 and 2017. Over the coming years, we will also monitor the electrical draw to calculate if there is enough electricity to install some full hook-up sites in the campground.

Although the number of visitors has fallen with the heat between June and August, we have remained busy—about three quarters full every weekend. That means about 15 of our 21 drive-in camp sites are occupied on Fridays and Saturdays. We estimate some 22,000 people have visited the park in its first 10 months. And we know that the hunting, fishing and fall rambling folks are getting ready for their visit. We look forward to seeing you, and please let us know if you have any questions.

Putting Cottonwoods Back into Cottonwood

April 27, 2014

We had another great service day out here at Cottonwood this weekend. In partnership with Solve and Western Rivers 15 volunteers planted 70 trees and shrubs; cleaned up two acres filling half a dumpster; and finished the landscaping in the camp loop. Makes me tired just writing it all down.



This volunteer project was the final “connection” of a major restoration planting on over a mile of the John Day from the upriver side of the bridge down along the entrance through day use and continuing to the campground. This restoration effort includes planting almost 2000 Alder, Cottonwood, Choke Cherry, Mock Orange, Currant and Nootka Rose along with seeding of native grasses. Over the coming years this will develop into a mature riparian community providing habitat and cooling shade. Great for the critters two footed, four footed and winged.

A Late Spring and Event Change

April 3, 2014

Due to the late spring we will be making a change on the Wildflower Hike which had been scheduled for April 12th. We will be moving the hike back to May 10th at 10 AM and swapping the Wildflower Hike with the Ranger Led Interpretive Hike. So . . .

April 12th Ranger Led Interpretive Hike–10 AM

May 10th Wildflower Walk–10 AM


On another note we had a great turn-out for our fist service project thanks to Western Rivers Conservancy with eight people planting over 300 shrubs. This was a huge success and a huge amount of work. Thank you; thank you; thank you. And it’s not to late to sign up for the next service project on April 26th. Image




Come Experience Spring at Cottonwood

March 23, 2014

The Canyon Wrens are singing. The wildflowers are starting to pop. The days are warmer. Longer. Sunnier. Spring is returning to Cottonwood.

To celebrate we have partnered with friends to offer several different ways to experience Cottonwood this spring. From service projects to wildflowers walks to Ranger guided hikes we have an experience to help you escape from the cabin and cure the fever. All of these events meet at the Visitor Center and we would like an RSVP either through commenting here or calling 541-394-0002 or 541-394-0004.

Can’t make one of these events and have a group of folks who would like to come out for a guided hike or volunteer project? Contact us and we will work with you to make it happen.

Saturday April 12th: 10 AM-Ranger Guided Hike

  • Type of Hike: Ranger Led hike focusing on the development of Cottonwood Canyon State Park
  • Distance: 3-5 miles
  • Meeting Area: Cottonwood Canyon State Park Visitor Center
  • What to Bring: Closed toe shoes; drinks and snacks
  • Maximum number: 10–please call or comment to RSVP

Saturday, April 26th: 10 AM to 4 PM

  • Type of Work: Transplanting of Sage along road cuts; caging and bark mulching of native plants; hand removal of non-native species; fence removal–this project is a moving target based on weather and other factors more information will be posted
  • Meeting Area: Cottonwood Canyon State Park Visitor Center
  • What to Bring: Heavy Leather work gloves; closed toe shoes; long sleeve shirts and pants that can sustain a barb wire snag/rip
  • Minimum Age: 10 (Due to nature of work)
  • Maximum number: 10–please call or comment to RSVP

       In Partnership with Solve It! Earth Day Projects

Saturday, May 10th: 10 AM-Wildflower Hike

  • Type of Hike: Wildflower Hike led by Region Natural Resource Specialist
  • Distance: 3-5 miles on flat ground
  • Meeting Area: Cottonwood Canyon State Park Visitor Center
  • What to Bring: Closed toe shoes; drinks and snacks; questions to stump the expert!
  • Maximum number: 10–please call or comment to RSVP

Can’t wait to see you this spring!

Volunteer at Cottonwood

February 15, 2014

Do you ever dream of being pImageart of something special? Maybe, the opening of a new state park? To build a trail for future generations? Help deliver and develop interpretive programs? Plant trees that will restore the John Day River and one day provide shade for visitors? Or just help visitors enjoy 8,000 acres of terrain and sixteen miles along the banks of the John Day River in eastern Oregon?

Here is your chance. Cottonwood Canyon State Park is now open and we are looking for one maintenance and one day use/campground host willing to commit at least one month. We currently have openings for one month, May through November.

We also have room for individuals and groups interested in interpretation, trail building, native plant restoration and (maybe) special construction projects. We are full of unique opportunities for involvement… but it might not be for everyone.

There is “remote” and then there is “Cottonwood remote”. There is no cell phone reception at the park and the closest town with full services is 40 minutes away. The park is still being developed and there are only young trees in the host site. We are in the desert and summers are very hot – temperatures hit a high of 112 last year and spring/fall can be cold. What we CAN offer is electricity to power on-site laundry and the AC; water to quench your thirst; and a beautiful spot!

With the remoteness of Cottonwood comes a special place in nature, one that Oregon State Parks is very excited about sharing with you. Even if you’re not interested in hosting, or just wondering what you are getting yourself into, come on out to Cottonwood Canyon State Park for a visit. Please call the Park Ranger David Spangler for more information at 541-394-0002 or spend a few minutes reading about volunteering in Oregon Parks at

Public Meeting for Cottonwood Canyon State Park Lease Option with Prineville BLM

January 10, 2014
Monday, January 13, 2014 from 6 – 8 pm;  Memorial Hall, 120 S. Main St., Condon, OR.
Please join us! Prineville Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  is requesting public input on options to issue the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (ORPD) a lease for about 10,000 acres in the lower John Day River basin, 22 miles northwest of Condon, Oregon. The State would manage the leased lands together with the Cottonwood Canyon State Park. The proposed lease would identify the terms and conditions for how ORPD could use the public land, including the development and maintenance of almost 32 miles of roads and trails. Without this lease, ORPD would not be able to connect trail segments and would limit public access in this area for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. If the lease is approved, camping would also be limited to ORPD’s designated sites within the park boundary. For more maps of the proposed development and trail system please go to cottonwood-plan-maps-ch10.
As a result of the new State park, the BLM is also considering setting a boating use level to this segment (Segment One) of the John Day Wild and Scenic River to account for the possibility of increased use and interest. BLM is considering limits to the number of groups per day between May 15 and December 31.
These actions are needed to work with ORPD to provide the public a seamless recreation experience with access to both the land and water in this area and to identify the kinds and amount of public use that the river can sustain without impact to the Wild and Scenic River values, such as fisheries and recreation.
The BLM is in the scoping phase of the analysis, which means that any comments received by the public or interested parties will be used to identify issues and develop alternatives.  Although there will be additional opportunities to comment, BLM is requesting input now so that it can be considered early, and invites you to share concerns about how actions related to this proposal might affect other resources or uses. Topics to consider might include boating use limits, visual resources, wildlife, recreation or historic/cultural resources.
Comments can be made at the meeting or sent to:
Prineville BLM
Attn Cottonood Canyon EA
3050 NE 3rd St.
Prineville OR 97754

First Day Hike

December 29, 2013

What a better way to start a New Year then to explore a New Park! We will be offering a Ranger led hike on January 1st at noon as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes. If you have been holding out on visiting January 1st could be the right day. And the campground is open.


Although, we will not have a zombie apocalypse survival offering like Honeyman State Park we will offer a great hike focusing on the cultural and natural history of the area. Also, we feel that the Zombie’s will have a little trouble working their way through the very prepared folks in Sherman and Gilliam County.

So again. . .

Date: January 1st

Time: Noon-2PM

Distance: 2 miles

Where to Meet: Cottonwood Canyon State Park Pinnacles Trail Head (near the campground)

More Information: 541-394-0002

See you there.


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