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It’s 105 degrees cooler. . .

December 7, 2013

then our 112 high in July. Come on out and enjoy all the variety Cottonwood has to offer.

The water fountains are closed for the winter. But. . .


Lone Tree Campground is open with your choice of spots. And . . .

Campground Winter

The lights are on in the day use area.


Just be careful of snowy roads. Main

A Couple of Months. . .

November 26, 2013

The blog has been quiet, but we’ve been busy. Somehow it’s been almost two months since we had the amazing Grand Opening of Cottonwood Canyon. We’re now hunkering down for winter as  fewer visitors  make the trip and we start to winterize the park.

Since the opening, the sage sniffers, hikers, hunters, fisher-kids and their fisher-parents and curious folks have come in a steady stream to visit the park. We even filled the campground the first week of October—and then realized we never ordered a “campground full” sign!

When our first camp hosts (John and Christina Collard & Bo and Mary Macnab) came in, we realized we never got around to putting in the camp host sign or a fire pit in the host sites. Luckily, they were understanding and even helped (ok, they did most of the work) put in the camp host sign, added rock around the site and installed a fire pit.

We hosted all 60 students of Condon’s kindergarten through sixth grade on Oct. 18, cooperating with Oregon State University Extension Service, Gilliam County Water Master, local artists, and the Native Fish Society. And yes, there are only 60 students in all of K-6 grades—hey, we live in a rural area. We hope to continue similar programs with other schools and groups. If you’re interested in coming out to any type of interpretive or educational program, leave a reply on this site and we’ll get back to you.

The Visitor Center was a wonderful small meeting room for a regional parks interpretive workshop and the Lower John Day Management Work Group. We hope to continue to use this space as a parks meeting room and develop a system for other groups to share the space.

Finally, the landscapers are putting in the trees, shrubs and a great demonstration garden of native plants. The contractors are finishing up the first phase of construction and we are actively planning the second phase of construction with irrigation and planting of the field and campground starting in December.

Demo Garden

Watch for a series of posts in the coming months about future park plans and projects. If you haven’t come to visit, we can still have some great days in the canyon even though other areas may be rainy and cold. Check the weather and come on over!

Cottonwood Canyon now open

September 30, 2013

We had a great time last week greeting our neighbors and partners to Oregon’s newest state park, Cottonwood Canyon. The park is open year-round from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Primitive camping costs about ten bucks during the summer, and $6 from October through April. The park is open to picnickers, hikers, hunters, stargazers, wildflower addicts, lizard admirers, anglers, photography nuts, sage sniffers (and you know who you are), knobby-tire bicyclists and equestrians. More details on the park’s official web page. A few photos from last week’s celebrations below.

Entry sign.

Entry sign on the Sherman County side.

Hiker-biker camp

Hiker-biker camp


Dozens of people brought their brands to help decorate the park.


Thanks to City of Wasco for loaning the world’s cutest red tractor to take people on a tour of the new park.

Park brand

The park brand — CwC — was the first of many burned into the park fence.


Local schoolkids enjoying a sunbreak in the park near the historic barn.

Local students

Local students Jordan Barrett, Isabella Mills and Cash Helms designed the park’s brand.

Paulann Petersen

Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen delivers a message and poem written especially for the dedication.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski

Former Gov. Ted Kulongoski — the park began under his tenure.

Chair Jay Graves

Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission Jay Graves

Pat Murtha

Former resident Pat Murtha

Sherman County Judge Gary Thompson

Sherman County Judge Gary Thompson

Horses for work

The Reitman family.

Gilliam County Judge Steve Shaffer

Gilliam County Judge Steve Shaffer


About 350 turned out for the opening ceremony.


When finished, the barn will provide shelter for school groups.


Drink in the scenery.


A fence around the barn doubles as a display sharing entries from local diaries.


View from the hiker-biker camp.

Come out to the park next week

September 18, 2013

We’ll do a ceremony with our neighbors and partners on Sept. 25, then the first full weekend for the park will be Sept. 28-29. The tent campground will be open (running water, vault toilets), but parts may still close every once in a while as construction finishes up later into fall. Our schedule the last weekend in September:

Saturday, Sept. 28

9-11:30 AM: 2 mile Guided Hike by Cottonwood Staff—meet at the trailhead parking lot near the campground; hike will talk about the cultural and natural history of the area plus talk about the past, present and future of Cottonwood State Park

10 AM and 1 PM: Fishing clinic (for youth under the age of 12) and “Let’s Go Birding”

1 PM: “Wind and Water; The Legacy of the American-style Windmill” presentation

Sunday, Sept. 29

9-11:30 AM: 2 mile Guided Hike by Cottonwood Staff—meet at the trailhead parking lot near the campground; hike will talk about the cultural and natural history of the area plus talk about the past, present and future of Cottonwood State Park

10 AM and 1 PM: Fishing clinic (for youth under the age of 12) and “Let’s Go Birding”

Photos from this week:



gatelatch helpersfromsilverfalls sagesteptrail windmill

Cottonwood Canyon State Park almost ready to open

September 6, 2013

The first full weekend for the park will be Sept. 28-29, and we’ll have guided hikes and activities for kids from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Until then, enjoy some photos our staff and volunteers have taken in the last two years — the youth you see here were part of a volunteer crew working on fences and native grassland studies:

Late summer construction update

August 21, 2013
The contractors are continuing to make good progress:
  • The sewer and power systems are complete. The domestic water and irrigation pumps will be installed in a few weeks (completing the water systems).
  • Fencing is 90% complete, and the the archways and gates will be installed next week.
  • The Visitor Contact building is getting sided and roofed.
  • The picnic shelter roof and final trim are due next week.
  • The restroom roofing and siding are set for next week, too.
  • Roadways will get the final grading next week and paving will happen soon after.
  • Improvements at the J.S. Burres day-use area (on the Gilliam side of the river) are under construction. They also plan to pave before the end of August.
  • The entrance road trail is complete.

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Summer construction update

August 2, 2013

Contractors are working electrical, insulation and roofing for the maintenance building.

Roofing, sheeting and framing is moving along nicely for the visitor contact building.

Contractors are also completing framing for the picnic shelter, sheeted the roof and are working on plumbing.

The pump for the irrigation system arrived!

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