This is one of Oregon’s newest parks, opening just three years ago in the north-central part of the state east of Mt. Hood. The site was originally known as J.S. Burres State Park, but was expanded, and is now situated on about 16 miles of its canyon namesake along the John Day River and vicinity. It totals today over 8,000 acres in size, making it Oregon’s second largest state park after Silver Falls State Park.
Cottonwood Canyon State Park features a 1,250-foot deep canyon corridor, over 10 miles of hiking trails, and plenty of water activities in the nearby John Day River. There’s also a 28-site campground, equestrian trails and the old Murtha Ranch barn – which is a site to explore unto itself. The park is a terrific spot for hikers, stargazers, photographers, and everyone in between who wants to explore canyons, sweeping sage-covered views and a multitude of wildlife.
The park is open year-round from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Primitive camping costs $10 during the summer, and $6 from October - April. Keep in mind that the canyon weather can be extreme – blistering hot with cold nights, so prepare accordingly. But this is a great spot for folks who want to ease their way into the desert slowly.