Cottonwood Canyon now open

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.

12 thoughts on “Cottonwood Canyon now open

    1. Yes, there is RV parking both in the main daytime parking lot, and in the campground. The campsites are up to 75 feet in length and there a several pull through sites.

      Just a reminder that RV’s will have to be self-contained. There is no electricity at the sites. Water is available centrally in the campground seasonally and year around in the daytime parking area. If you do use a generator please respect posted quiet hours and your neighbors.

  1. A couple of months ago I had asked some questions about hunting in the park. I still haven’t received a reply.Any chance I could get an answer to those concerns?

  2. Nice, it looks like it ended up being much better weather than the forecast predicted. Now I’m bummed that I didn’t make the driver to visit after all.

  3. I got my first look since last fall’s start on 10/10/2013. The old Murtha Ranch looks like Disneyland!

    The new driving access on the west side of the rive doesn’t save many steps if you want to fish downriver, because you either have to hike the outside bend of the river, or park way on the west side of the fee camping spots and walk across the campground and river to the inside of the bend. It might be better to walk to bike the road on the east side.

    The road upstream is shown on the maps as only going a mile to the big bend hole while it used to go much farther. Don’t know what the issue is there. Looks like you got zero germination out of their hydromulch last summer. The Murtha Ranch field had gone to weeds last year. Now you have a weed management problem in the new campground. It looks like you disc-ed up the area just upriver of the camping area, and the campground now is barren except for goats heads and diffuse knapweed, making it like a dustbowl for now.

    I wonder how well buffalo grass would work for the campground.

    I never could understand why Oregon Parks abandoned the original access to the Murtha Ranch of the north side of H. 206 and instead built a new turn out off the south side of 206, sweeping under the bridge. The new route seems much more exposed destruction to highwater events, as evidenced by all the gabbions that were used along this road grade. I thought Oregon Parks might be more accommodating to natural river processes, and not create a new bottleneck for high flows at the 206 Burres bridge. I asked this last year but got no response.

    1. Paul,
      Thanks for your comments. Your concerns are also shared by Park Staff and we are working to mitigate some of these issues you brought up.
      The old field is in CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) and we are working with Western Rivers on replanting this with a native grass and riparian plants along the river bank. We will be running irrigation through the field and into the campground this winter allowing us to plant the field in native grass; plant native riparian plants along the river; and a mix of native and non-native grasses and shade trees in the campground over the coming months. Having the field in CREP and the entire riparian area from the old corral running past the campground means we have to limit recreational access to this area.
      We will be planting the main day use area and all road cuts with a native grass seed mix and about 1200 sage brush, rabbit brush and snake weed plants. We are also working with partners on restoring 70 acres of fields and riparian areas along the Gilliam County side of the river. Finally, we will continue the major restoration project started by Western Rivers along Hay Creek.
      We chose to only cut out the old road upstream to the big bend hole until we develop a recreational agreement with BLM given that old road runs into the BLM Wilderness Study Area and we want to ensure we look at all impacts before extending into that area. In the next six months to year we will develop and release a more detailed trails plan which might include extending upriver.
      In terms of the entrance road this was an agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Parks. If we wanted to use the original entrance, it would have required us to remove a huge chunk of the hillside to create a safe line of sight westward. The option we settled on is safer and less damaging to the landscape. We will continue to monitor high water flows, the impact of the gabion wall and make decisions based upon safety and river flows.

  4. Just visited Cotton Wood last week and stayed overnight in the RV park. This is a Nice area for a new state park, and we enjoyed the views. I hate to rain on the new park but the Puncher weed problem is epidemic. They are everywhere. They cause problems with Dogs feet and stop children from outside play. They flatten bicycle tires, and are tracked into your RV where bare feet are attacked. I consider this a huge problem. I could not recommend the camping areas for anyone with dogs or children. YMMV

    1. We agree puncture vine/goat’s head or whatever you want to call it stinks. As we put in the landscaping and native grass we should start to out compete in the campground and the main part of the park. For bike tires and tubes we recommend Slime . We are even working on a method to have a special “Slime Station” at the park . Hopefully, you can give us one more chance this spring when the grass starts to come up.

      1. You should have seen it last year. In the interim period between Murtha Ranch purchase and active construction, the field east of the barn turned into a solid carpet of goats head plants. I had to carry dogs over it, and saw other guests doing the same. OSP’s initial landscaping has greatly improved this situation, but it’s going to take some more time. Can’t completely eliminate them, because this climate is so perfect for them. I commiserate with OSP because I have goat head problems at my facilities in Eastern Washington. Even if you want to tend toward organic methods, sometimes you just have to spray and spray. But one problem I keep seeing with Roundup is that the first plants that come back after an application is not your desirable plants, but it’s more noxious weeds. Prickly lettuce is especially good at this re-invasion in my area.

        On the south side trail this month, I had slime and puncture strips but I still ended up pushing the bike back home. One of the puncture strips had sifted, giving the tube no protection. But I knew I was in serious trouble when I rode through an old corral covered with goat heads, and rode through a tire rut that I discovered later was filled with a couple inches of goat head seeds. I’m going to put on a tubeless tire system next.

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