Located in the heart of central Oregon and encompassing the Deschutes and Crooked River canyons, The Cove Palisades State Park is a popular year-round destination for camping and water sports.
The park offers two seasonal campgrounds. Deschutes River Campground is located in the canyon down the road from two swimming and boating areas along the Lower Deschutes River arm of Lake Billy Chinook. High above the canyon near the park entrance is the Crooked River Campground. Three deluxe cabins are located near the marina with lake views.
Extra vehicles: Each campsite fee includes parking for one vehicle and a tow vehicle. Campers may have a total of two vehicles per site; extra vehicle is $7 per night. Additional vehicles may not be allowed in the park overnight.
Launch your boat from three day-use areas: Lower Deschutes, Upper Deschutes and Crooked River. The latter two also have accessible kayak launches. All three have swim beaches (no lifeguards). Lower Deschutes Day-use Area closes in the winter.
From April to October, The Cove Palisades Resort and Marina rents boat moorages, boats and water toys, including water skis, tubes, life jackets and ropes. Houseboat rentals offer a luxurious overnight stay right on the water. The marina also includes a café and store that sells fuel and ice.
See our Boaters’ Guide for more information.
From fall to spring, the Crooked and Deschutes rivers provide 30 miles of flat-water paddling. Paddlers of all experience levels can explore the 6-mile Crooked River Water Trail on the Crooked River arm of the reservoir. Experienced paddlers will enjoy the solitude on the two-mile stretch south of the bridge.
Tam-a-láu Trail: Climb 600’ for spectacular views of the snow-capped Cascade Range and the Deschutes and Crooked river canyons. Begin in the Deschutes Campground (6 miles round-trip) or the Upper Deschutes day-use area boat trailer parking lot (7 miles round-trip).
Crooked River Rim Trail: Along this 2-mile trail that begins near the Crooked River Campground, enjoy spectacular views of the Cascades and the Crooked River arm of the reservoir, with glimpses of the Deschutes arm in the distance. Designed and constructed by our partner, PGE, this trail provides the perfect vantage point to view “The Island,” a 200-acre landform that splits the two arms and serves as vital habitat for raptors.
Wetland Nature Trail Loop: This flat ¼-mile trail in the Crooked River Campground loops through an ongoing wetland restoration project at the site of a 2015 wildfire.
See our Recreation Guide for a map of the park including hiking trails and paddling routes.
Lake Billy Chinook is home to The Cove Palisades Resort and Marina, the mecca for houseboating, water skiing, and fishing in Central Oregon! Click on the link above for more information.
No. If you are staying in one of the Cove Palisades State Park cabins and wish to moorage your boat and trailer, you are required to pay and additional fee through the Cove Palisades Resort and Marina. Click Marina Services for more details.
More than three miles of hiking trails are available around the campground and day-use areas near the Deschutes River. Traveling over gentle hills and shallow gullies, these trails are perfect for those family strolls and quick trips to and from the lake. View points and rest stations are featured at various locations. This is also a great spot to explore the park in a different light and take a night hike.
The Tam A Lau Trail is an expierence of a lifetime. The hike is a total of six miles round trip from the campground or seven miles from the Upper Deschutes day-use area trailhead. From the trailhead to the top of the high platue the trail gains 600 feet in elevation. On the way up you will pass through areas that are rich in wildlife and unspoiled native vegitation; as well as three unique geological formations. At the top, the trail makes a 3.5 mile loop around the Peninsula, which affords spectacular views of the high Cascade Mountain peaks and the Deschutes and Crooked River Canyons.
The Wetlands Nature Trail is an easy, flat, quarter mile - loop trail. This manmade wetland area was built in 2001 to mitigate local runoff issues by installing a cattail filtration system before running into Lake Billy Chinook and stablize healthy fish populations. In addtion to this, the area provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including red-winged blackbirds, and an outdoor classroom for local students to use for hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics (STEM) projects. Projects to date inlcude fire restoration, a hydroelectric paddlewheel, bluebird monitoring, a bat structure that can house up to 1,200 bats and a monarch waystation. In 2015 a 280-acre wildfire burned through the area; since then, there are impressive examples of primary and secondary successive growth.
The Crooked River Rim Trail offers fantastic views of Crooked River, The Island formation and views of the Cascade Mountains to the west and Round Butte to the north. Popular in the spring for wildflowers and all year for geology enthusiasts and photographers. Accessable year round, 1 mile in length each way, moderatel difficulty, the trailhead is located at the Ranger booth in the Croooked River Campground and makes its way up to a scenic overlook along Mountain View Drive. To lengthen the hike, you can make your way around to all four overlooks along a paved, typically low-use, roadway.
When hiking at The Cove, remember to always take water, check the weather before you go, wear sturdy hiking shoes, dress in layers, stay on the trail at all times, keep dogs on leash and have a great time! Fall and winter is a great time to hike at The Cove. Use caution on the Tam A Lau Trail when wet, the mud can be slippery.
Check in is at 4 p.m., however if you come early, you can not check in before 1 p.m. and then staff needs time to clean and water the site. If all that has been accomplished, then you may be able to get in earlier than 4 p.m.
Eagle Watch - a "Culver Tradition" since 1996, was a popular free, family friendly, special event hosted for twenty-five years at Round Butte Overlook Park. The event was presented by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Portland General Electric, The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the National Crooked River Grassland. A number of local, state and federal agencies, tribal agencies, non-profits, local businesses and artisians helped visitors view wild eagles/raptors; as well as captive birds of prey. We shared information on current research and surveys of bald and golden eagles in Oregon, cultural and historical inforamtion about raptors in the Lake Billy Chinook area and taught visitors how to become bird watchers, create a wildlife friendly habitat in their own back yard, and how to photograph birds/wildlife. For a number of unmitigatable reasons, the event needs to adapt and evolve.
The event is expected to continue in a new venue to include the entire Lake Billy Chinook region and expand to include topics such as: other wildlife, history, geology, fire, hydroelectric power, new cultural demonstrations, and much more. Due to COVID-19, upcoming plans are unclear and may need to be pushed out to 2022 to ensure public safety. Please check back for more information. We are excited to share this beautiful area with you; showcaseing all things that live above, around and below Lake Billy Chinook.
The original park land in the Crooked River Canyon was acquired by lease agreement with the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1940. Additional land was obtained by purchase from the State Land Board, Jefferson County and private owners between 1941 and 1961. The acquired lands included a gift of eight acres from the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1946. When Portland General Electric Company's Round Butte Dam was constructed near the confluence of the Crooked, Deschutes and Metolius rivers between 1961 and 1964, land exchanges were made with Portland General Electric, and the surplus released to the U. S. Department of Agriculture and Jefferson County. Additional lands were acquired in 1966 and 1977. The Cove Palisades includes a great expanse of central Oregon semi-arid plateau dissected by the deep cutting river channels of the Crooked, and Metolius rivers as they meet to form the larger Deschutes River. Revealed in the steep canyon walls is the geologic history of the region, starting some 10 to 12 million years ago. Basaltic lava flows occurred in the last 50,000 years, which filled canyons in the park. Again, the rivers began to erode these canyons to their present configuration, and large landslides occurred in the steep-walled canyons. The "Cove" refers to an outcropping half way down the Crooked River Canyon wall which was visible before the dam pool was formed. In the 1950s, visitors drove into the Crooked River and Deschutes River canyons to see the geologic formations. The area was modestly developed for camping and day use. Now these canyons are flooded to a depth of 800-900 feet by Lake Billy Chinook behind Round Butte Dam. The park consequently serves many more people with larger campgrounds, day-use picnic areas, boating facilities, as well as concession areas. Swimming, fishing and boating are popular activities at the park.