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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!

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!

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