Cottonwood Canyon is a beautiful, well-maintained state park. We have not camped here because it is not our camp vibe (too developed), but I just want to clarify that there is NO dispersed camping here. This page incorrectly states there is dispersed camping in Cottonwood Canyon SP. There are a handful of what the park has called “hiker” spots, which are about 25 feet from a parking lot. Campsites on literally on top of each other. Camping is prohibited essentially everywhere else on park land, which is frustrating because it’s over 800 acres and there’s plenty of room to accommodate the handful of adventure seekers to disperse. Piggybacking what others have said: canyons get very windy and tent camping can be tricky in these conditions.
Overall, a lovely campground for families and campers who prefer less primitive amenities.
This beautiful campground was loaded with amenities. The gorgeous John Day River, was perfect for fishing, swimming, floating. There was several trails within the campground as well as trailheads around the perimeter. We brought our own bikes but if you don’t bring yours, they offered loaner bikes and there were little bike workstations on the grounds. Pet friendly! Including a fenced in dog area (about an acre) and doggie poo bags readily available. We have a truck with camper but the tent sites each had a solar panel to provide electricity for charging the essentials. The grounds must have been a farm originally and the campground designers did an awesome job of using the existing structures to add to the rustic nature and maintain the land’s historic relevance. Cottonwood Canyon surpassed our expectations, especially considering the very low price tag. I cannot recommend highly enough.
Came through CC by chance. Intended on staying at DeSchutes River but they were full. Paid 10 bucks for a night. Several pit toilets throughout the area. Sites were adequate with privacy barriers for those close to each other. Appeared to be a swimming area on the river close up the camp (didn’t check it out).
Be prepared for some wind due to topography.
First come first serve sites with fire rings. There is overflow camping in the lawn without a fire ring but with a picnic table. Restrooms are very clean and campground is well maintained. Winds can pick up in the canyon so be sure to have strong tent stakes. Right next to the John Day River great walking path along the River. Fenced dog park for your pet and free bicycles for use.
I personally really enjoyed this campground. Still thinking about the natural beauty and quiet/peacefulness. Loved that it is within striking distance of Portland. Spots are a great size, plenty of distance between your neighbors and yourself. My only complaint is that it would have been nice to have shade structures at EVERY site, not just most of them. No worries, I’ll bring my pop up next time. I will be back.
Date Stayed: July 11th 2019 Campsite:#18 needed 1 inch lift to level left side. Price:$10 no electricity Dump Station: No Altitude: 577 ft Camp Host: Didn't meet Ease of Access: Right off hwy 206, our 28 ft travel trailer easily fit with room to spare. Entry to park is level and paved. Once entering campsite area pavement turns to gravel. Weather: Days sunny upper 80's nights low 60's. Very breezy during the day, once the sun went down, the breeze stopped. Noise: None, far enough from hwy, no noise, a very quiet park. Activities: Geocaching cache five within a couple of miles. Park provided free single gear mountain bikes to use, wife and I went for an evening bike ride. Many trails to walk around the park and along the John Day river. Free showers too, good hot water, showers are a 5 minute walk from the campground. Wife and I enjoyed the campground, we stayed one night as we traveled home from John Day Fossil Beds.
Ccottonwood Canyon State Park Campground is a lovely, remote primitive camp experience. For the uninitiated, this means no electric sites, no running water, no flush toilets. Its also a rattlesnake habitat in Eastern Oregon's high desert biome, within 30 miles or so of The Dalles, a city marking the change in the Columbia River Gorge from high desert to wooded mountainsides. This camp ground us located deep in a canyon 15 miles from Wasco, Oregon. Before descending into the canyon, you'll see Eastern Oregon's classic golden wheatfields, then a wind farm, with scores of white windmills. The evening I arrived was the night before a full moon, so the setting sun over the canyon and the waxing moon gave a lovely glow to the sights. Unfortunately, my camera phone and photographer skills are lacking; sorry. If you love truly getting away from it all, as I do, you'll appreciate the absolute peace at Cottonwood Canyon. We arrived at dusk, late in July, and as is typical for the region, it was still 90 degrees. Fortunately, my summer tent is mostly screen, allowing the cool canyon breeze in, and it erects quickly and easily. It was full dark by the time I'd pitched it, and outfitted it with my airbed. Because of all the rattlesnake warning signs, I kept my dog leashed or tied out on a campsite-length cable. We parked across the campground from the pit toilets, which were not lighted, so bring a flashlight, cell phone, or lantern for inside the biffy. If this kind of camping appeals to you, you'll be rewarded with a quiet night of no traffic noise, only the sound of the nearby murmuring creek and the breeze in the trees. The other campers here were very quiet and respectful of the rules. The beautiful moonlight set one side of the canyon aglow and the clear sky was filled with stars. I didn't need my rain fly, so could enjoy finding the constellations as I lay in my tent. In the morning, I awoke just before dawn when my dog sat bolt upright and intently watched with me as an elk cow walked through our campsite. The fee here is $10 a.night, and worth every penny!
Here is the one caveat: as of this writing, (late July 2018) the loud diesel pickup truck that came through to empty trash bins at 6am was jarring. It was followed by the back-up beeping of heavy machinery by 6:30am, as work on a new building commenced near the campground. This was so unfortunate, and I pity the folks that had hoped to sleep in.
This is a great new state park, that will be fantastic in a few years. Not too far from I-84 and the Portland area, the park sits down in Cottonwood Canyon. The campground was at the end of the road near the Pinnacles trailhead. The wind in the area is strong, but the park has built walls to block your tent from the wind. The trees are still small, but when they get big all of the spots will be nice and shaded. Some of the spots have covered tables to block the sun. The spots were large and not too close to other campers. There is new construction happening and it looks like eventually there will be more camp spots, a bike path running along the entire state park, and more bathrooms maybe even a shower house. Near the entrance was a large grass area with a barn, a horseshoe pit, and a picnic/day area. There was even free bikes that anyone could borrow to cruise around the park. The Pinnacles trail was a flat 8.6 trail running alongside the John Day River. I recommend starting early and enjoying a sunrise hike, I started at 0445, because there is no shade along the trail. I was able to finish the hike just as the sun came over the mountain, and before it got too hot. I would recommend this campground.
A new park just beginning to develop and build. I look forward to visiting it and watching it fulfill its potential. Fantastic hosts.
amazingly clean. fresh water, bike repair supplies, covered picknic area with grills, happy bike camping. quiet space. separate rv camping, pit toilets near camp sites and full bathrooms near the visiting center. cleanest bathrooms I’ve ever visited at a state park. trail up the John day river is maintained and flat. good for bikes and walking.