Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Cottonwood Canyon State Park
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5.0
24 reviews
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18
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Rainier72
Lynnwood, WA741 contributions
Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon's newer state parks and it is a great one. The park is probably better experienced hiking or on the water. I had done some hiking at the fossil beds earlier in the week and was not quite ready to hike again. I will have to go back and experience the canyon more on foot. The information center was closed, but walking around the old barn with the equipment was really fun. Back behind the barn is a short trail to the river which is fun too. There are trails on both sides of the highway. There is a nice big day use area and if you want to spend the night, there are some cabins and a campground. The park is a bit out of the way, but well worth the effort to go to. I got a nice taste of the park and it was enough to want me to go back for a lot more.
Written May 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

tkinor
Beaverton, OR25 contributions
Friends
The area is somewhat remote but quite beautiful. The geology is fascinating as you walk/hike along the river. Was there on a bluebird day and grasses were still golden vs green but it was still striking. Easy enough walking/hiking (we did around 10+ miles). I plan to come back when the flowers start to bloom and hope to be fortunate enough to see bighorn sheep again (and no snakes).
Written February 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

jcravens
Portland, OR63 contributions
Couples
This is a brand new state park, established in 2013, and is now the second largest state park in Oregon, encompassing 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) (the largest is Silver Falls State Park). It has 21 primitive sites for tents and self-contained RVs (max site size is 75 feet) and a lot of space in between each. Each has a wind break for tents because of the winds - at times, especially at night, quite intense. It's open year-round. There are also seven hiker/biker camp sites next to the main campground. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There's pit toilets in the campground, and flush toilets up at the entrance near the old barn and small visitor's center. The campground and the hike and bike trails are on the lower John Day River - at the time we were there, it was so low one could walk across it. There are also communal bicycles and fishing poles which are FREE TO USE. There is a lot of construction going on between the barn and the campground - four cabins, a shower facility and an "experience" center are being built, but no construction happens in the evenings, on nights or on weekends. According to the park employee I spoke with, the park will not turn any camper away. If you get there and the campground is full, you can camp up around the barn in the designated area or stay in the parking lot. I LOVE this park. I love the concept, I love the high desert canyon look, I love the rustic feel, I love the amazing stars at night... there's easy access down to the John Day River and there is an easy trail around the campground along the river to the visitor's center and then another simple one on the other side of the road that heads back to the campground, passing by Sage Knob, which offers a lovely view of the area. There are words carved into the wood all around the site, telling stories of early settlers or of a tree or the age of the land or local history. The barn, the size of the camp sites, the wind breaks for tents, the big tree and bench at the start of the main hike and bike trail, the communal bikes, the river access, the scenery, the barbed wire sculptures - IT'S FANTASTIC! A great site for hiking or biking and definitely camping - but not in the summer and most definitely not without bringing a LOT of water with you when you hike or bike ride. This is high desert, and daytime temps in the summer are often over 100 - there is VERY little shade - none at all in the campground or on the trails. You also have to be prepared for the wind, especially at night. As I mentioned, there are wind breaks in each site for tents, and you absolutely need them. My impression is that campfires are usually banned because of the winds and intensely dry conditions. The warnings on the information sign can be intimidating - warning of rattlesnakes, of cougars, of puncture vines, of the need for water, of no cell phone service, of how far it is to a hospital. Looking forward to returning next year!
Written September 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

S S
Aloha, OR4 contributions
Solo
I stayed in the Cliff Swallow cabin (the one that does not allow pets) and it was beautiful inside. It did smell a little of, um, body odor but I just opened the window and aired it out a bit. When you sit on the wood bench out front, it has a wonderful view of mountains, truly amazing. The cabin next to me was rented as well and they played frisbee right on the small patch of dried grass...it was weird to see them from my window, like a couple of feet away, not much seclusion which I was looking forward to. Also, if it had been Summer, though there is A/C, there would be NO WAY I would sit outside...it is barren and exposed - would be nice if they planted some type of shade tree next to each cabin but hey, most people don't spend much time in them anyway but I did a large hike and spend more time in mine recovering than maybe normal? I also did the Pinnacle hike and it was gorgeous walking along the John Day and seeing actual cliff swallow nests. there is a sign that warns you that you must be careful of rattlesnakes and take a TON of water with you (mainly in Summer) due to sun exposure so just plan ahead....there are plenty of people on the trail so you won't die but always take more water than you think you need. Overall, I say stay here once and see if it is for you. There is absolutely NO cell service which I thought was lovely. The showers are free if you rent a cabin and they are single room showers, very nice. Bring your own sheets, the bed and couch are plasticy and you will not want to sit on them without some type of cover...I actually brought my own camping mat and just placed it on top of the bed mattress. There is a propane grill and a mini fridge; absolutely no cooking of any kind allowed indoors. You will have to park a bit away from the cabin and either walk your stuff down or use the wagon cart provided at the front of each cabin. I saw the hosts once and never saw a ranger. Never saw where you can buy firewood (no fired allowed starting July 1, I believe). Only other negative is that they are planning on putting up about 10 more cabins and they are doing construction so go now before you are all packed together tight. It sounds like a negative review and that is not my intention - it is truly spectacular but it was just a different experience, not a bad one, just different....which is good! It is always what you make of it!
Written May 22, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ruth V
40 contributions
A little bit out of the way, but wow, what a spectacular setting for a state park, like none we have ever stayed at. We usually stay at state park cabins or yurts, and this was hands down the nicest, biggest cabin we have ever stayed in. The bathrooms/shower areas were clean and well thought out. I would come back here in a minute. We did not want to leave.
Written August 22, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

mspencer97
Moro, OR4 contributions
Beautiful, serene, friendly! Different than most state parks because it sits by the John Day River but is
Dry land terrain, Sage Brush is everywhere.
Written October 8, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dave R
Burbank, WA181 contributions
Couples
It's hard to imagine a place as green and beautiful as Cottonwood Canyon State Park located near Wasco Oregon. Set about 2000 feet below the surrounding basalt cliffs along the nearly 230 plus mile free flowing John Day river, there are numerous hiking trails, wildlife, and at least in the spring, beautiful desert flowers. We saw a heard of big horn sheep and also a herd of elk, along with a rabbit and one nonvenomous snake trying to soak up some early spring warmth.

The campground was very nice and the campsites are large with a good distance between your neighbors. There are pit toilets in the campground and flush toilets near the information Center and day use parking. Fresh water is available as well.

The river meanders through the valley and hiking trails are along both sides in one area and on just one side going upstream from the campground.

If you're looking for a spot to spend some quiet time away from the hectic crowds and view the stars, look at the magnificent basalt cliffs and toss a line to fish, Cottonwood Canyon certainly fills the bill on multiple levels.
Written April 7, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

WeAlwaysWAnder
Olympia, WA3,178 contributions
Couples
We visited for the second time this winter and we still really like this park, but I am apprehensive about what the new construction do to the feeling and ambiance. Looks like several more sites, cabins, and hookups are coming. Just not sure how I feel about this. This visit we did take the Hard Stone trail and really enjoyed this walk down the river. Will visit again soon and see how the changes unfold.
Written June 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

kec425
North Bend, WA91 contributions
We just happened to drive by Cottonwood Canyon State Park on our way home from viewing the total eclipse looking for a place to spend the night car-camping. What a scenic spot! I wish we would have had time to explore the various hiking trails. The young ranger there was super friendly and helpful. Lovely spot!
Written September 4, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

hotelfan828
Glossop, UK49 contributions
Solo
This is a fantastic stopping point to camp (Hiker Biker site for 5 dollars) on a bike route tour of Oregon. The descending road into the canyon is spectacular, and the road out again absolutely gorgeous. The canyon ground has running water and facilities, and the sites have wind-breakers and tables. Plenty of cars/rvs, tents, cyclists and some interesting trails around the site. Watch out for rattlesnakes!
Written July 30, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Cottonwood Canyon State Park (Wasco) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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