Every western state has a Cottonwood Canyon, yet there is one in particular that is guaranteed to create good memories that last a lifetime. In northern Oregon, Cottonwood Canyon State Park is the destination to look for and all it takes is a quick glance at a map to confirm that plenty of adventures await upon arrival. This region is steeped in old west pioneer history as well as scenic splendor, so there is a little something to capture the interest of everybody in the crowd. The John Day River cuts through the rolling mountains on its way to the nearby Columbia River confluence, which makes Cottonwood Canyon State Park a fly fisherman's dream come true. This park also boasts endless backcountry trails, premium wildlife viewing and dark night skies, so even the stargazers will be in luck!
Cottonwood Canyon State Park is located next to The Dalles on the Columbia River, which was famous for being the end point of the old historic Oregon Trail. Many weary pioneers that risked life and limb actually trod the same grounds that modern visitors now stand upon, so it is easy to trace the history in these parts. The Dalles is a community that offers a vast amount of pioneer heritage and there are plenty of landmarks to experience in the local area. Spending some time away from the park to discover the pioneer heritage will provide valuable insight for visitors of all ages, so it is best to plan on committing to an extended stay.
Primitive dispersed camping is offered along the rivers in this region and that is fine for most fishermen, while the average tourist desires a little more comfort. Cottonwood Canyon State Park has a developed campground with basic facilities, showers and safe drinking water, which definitely is a step above roughing it in the wild. A few cabins are available by reservation only, while the campsites are only offered on a first come, first serve basis. Since Mt Hood and a couple of National Parks in this region attract most of the mainstream tourists, overcrowding is rarely a problem at this State Park, so finding an empty spot is possible even on weekends.
A hiking trail heads down to the John Day River, which presents endless adventures for fishermen and river rafters. The grassy mountains and canyons provide premium wildlife viewing, because this is a traditional migratory zone for both herd animals and birds. Elk, deer and Pronghorn Antelope can usually be spotted early or late in the day, while the best birding takes place along the riverbanks. More hiking options await along the John Day River and the roadside trailheads are well marked. For those who simply wish to escape from the big crowds to enjoy mother nature at her finest, The Dalles region of Oregon has plenty to offer and Cottonwood Canyon State Park is in the center of it all!
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