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For the latest Oregon State Parks updates, visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page.

Cottonwood Canyon State Park

  General Advisory 06/08/20
Fire ban is currently in effect. No fires or other devices that emit embers or sparks are permitted. 

Allowed: propane fire rings and charcoal briquettes, as long as they are ignited using lighter fluid and used inside of a designated fire ring. 
Major Features & Activities:
  • Camping (ADA)
  • Cabin (ADA)
  • Hiking Trails
  • Picnicking (ADA)
  • Fishing
  • Horse Trails
  • Potable Water
  • Vault Toilets (ADA)
  • Wildlife
  • Open Year Round
  • Restrooms Flush (ADA)
  • Boat Ramp
  • Hot Shower (ADA)

COVID-19 UPDATE

Park is open for day use and camping with reduced services. J.S. Burres/Cottonwood Bridge, Starvation Lane and all boat accesses to the John Day River are open. 

We are not accepting reservations for the Experience Center or day-use area.

Camping

Backcountry camping is open. Lone Tree Campground, including the cabins and group camp, are open. Expect limited vacancy at the campground on weekends. Cabins are open to reservation holders only—Reserve up to 30 days in advance (beginning July 1). 

  • 21 primitive sites for tents or self-contained RVs (first-come, first-served)
  • 14 primitive walk-in tent sites (first-come, first-served)
  • 4 rustic cabins, 2 pet-friendly. RESERVATION ONLY
  • 1 primitive group site for tents or self-contained RVs (first-come, first-served)
  • Potable water
  • Vault toilets & flush toilets
  • Showers

Cottonwood Canyon State Park is rugged and vast, from the vertical cliffs carved by the John Day River to deep side canyons and arid, rocky grasslands that extend for miles in all directions. The park’s 8,000-plus acres are open for exploring, stargazing and contemplating the elemental forces that carved this unique landscape.

Fishing and Hunting

The iconic John Day River is a long, remote, natural river system, with 252 free-flowing miles. The lower John Day River offers one of the best spring and fall wild steelhead runs in Northeast Oregon. Anglers also come for catfish and smallmouth bass. J.S. Burres, across the river, is a popular boat launch for rafts, kayaks, canoes and drift boats.

The park is also open to hunting outside the developed area. It is the responsibility of the hunter to stay current on regulations. Check the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website for information.

Hiking 

The Pinnacles Trail and the Lost Corral Trail, each 4.3 miles one way, follow either side of the John Day River downstream. The Lost Corral Trail, leaving from JS Burres, is open to both hikers, bikers and equestrians. The Pinnacles Trail, leaving from the end of the campground, is open to bikers and hikers.

Upstream, the Hard Stone Trail is open to foot traffic only. Or, you can strike out on your own along old, unmaintained ranching roads that lead into the back country. The J.S. Burres day-use area is a popular boat launch for rafts, kayaks, canoes and drift boats.

Back Country Camping

Back country camping is allowed on a hike-in basis—no dispersed vehicle camping is permitted. This includes the BLM land surrounding the park and Starvation Lane, which are managed by Oregon State Parks. Those looking to backpack may park at any trailhead, and must hike a minimum 1 mile before setting up camp. Please be sure to contact park staff with any questions relating to your trip.

Wild and Natural

Visitors may see Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, white-tailed jackrabbit, big horn sheep, and all manner of smaller mammals. Both migratory and resident bird populations are a treat, especially for raptor lovers. The rocky landscape also invites reptiles, including at least six species of lizards, western rattlesnakes and various nonvenomous snakes. April and May put on a show of wildflowers.

Know Before You Go

Campfires are typically prohibited during the summer months. Check the Park Alerts at the top of this page for updates. 

Cottonwood Canyon is remote, rugged and deliberately undeveloped. A few basic steps can help you stay safe.
  • Have a plan for your day, and tell somebody about it. There is no cell phone coverage anywhere in the park.
  • Carry plenty of water—20 ounces per person, per hour for hiking in hot sun is recommended. Potable water is available only at the developed day-use area and in the campground.
  • Rattlesnakes and cougars live here. Leave the snakes alone; they will not bite unless threatened. To avoid cougars, always hike in groups and make noise to announce your presence. Report any cougar sightings to park staff.
  • Ticks are most active in spring and early summer and live in long grass and brush. The best defenses are vigilance and avoidance.