Every park has a theme and some are not easy to casually figure out while driving by. For example, Bates State Park in Oregon looks like a very well manicured city park, but why is it located in a deep pine forest wilderness setting? ... A pristine city park way out in the wide open spaces certainly is odd, yet it is a pleasantly welcome sight to see, especially for those who need a break from roughing it in the wild. The answer as to "why here?" is not readily apparent, but by doing some research or by reading the park brochure during a visit, all inquiries will be resolved.
Bates State Park was once a large lumber mill site, complete with its own company town. When the mill was closed in the 1970s, the industrial site was completely disassembled and repurposed elsewhere. Even the homes in the company town were hauled out and nothing else remained, other than the old mill pond. The old lumber mill site eventually became a reclamation project that continues to this day and this is where Bates State Park fits into the picture. This park protects the area around the old historic mill pond and the grounds are a showcase for industrial reclamation projects done the right way.
The grass is watered and mowed, while the seedlings have sprouted up as trees, so Bates State Park definitely has a brand new look. The facilities and campsites are spotless too, which speaks volumes about the pride that went into this land reclamation project. Bates State Park offers 28 campsites that are well suited for RV camping or car and tent adventurers. Drinking water is available and there are electric hookups, along with a few campsites devoted to those who have physical challenges. Hiking trails and the old mill pond are the main local attractions, while the neighboring John Day region offers endless outdoor adventures. A clean city park deep in the woods certainly is attractive after spending lengthy time in the backcountry, so be sure to keep Bates State Park in mind when seeking some cozy comfortable surroundings!
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