Winter Driving tips from the Rangers

As winter comes and the snow and ice sets in; the brave bundle up and head out for adventure! Even the bravest of souls must come prepared and ready to stay safe.

Eastern Oregon is hot in the summer, and cold in the winter. The average low at Cottonwood Canyon during the month of January is a chilly 27 degrees. Ice and snow is not uncommon. Cottonwood is beautiful in the snow, it’s even more beautiful when visited with the right equipment.

Before visiting the park, please check the local weather (tip, the local zip code is 97065). Weather can change suddenly and without warning. A morning spent in a t-shirt can quickly change to an evening in snow pants and thick jackets.

It is important to remember that services are limited at the park. The nearest services are approximately 15miles away in Wasco, though services can be limited further by weather and time of day. Because if this, winter visitors will need to pack plenty of food, water, firewood, and safety equipment. As always, it is a good idea to let somebody know where you are going and when you plan to return.

three-peak winter snowflake symbol

Simply driving to the park can be a challenge during the winter. While area highways are regularly plowed by ODOT and county crews, heavy ice and snow can remain on road surfaces. Because of this, it is necessary to be properly equipped with tire chains or studded/stud-less winter snow tires which are “three-peak mountain” rated. The ODOT website features good information on Oregon chain laws.

While the Cottonwood back-country is beautiful, be mindful of traveling back-roads during adverse weather conditions. In high snow events, little traveled back roads are not plowed, or are plowed infrequently. Don’t put yourself into a bad situation.

Always know before you go. Visit Oregon Trip Check to view road conditions and closures. Visit the National Weather Service for current and future weather forecasts, and of course, cottonwoodcanyon.org for all your Cottonwood info!

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