At 8,000 acres, Cottonwood Canyon State Park is the second largest in Oregon. Located on the John Day river, south of Biggs Junction and Wasco, it is geographically remote. However, remoteness has not affected its popularity. Its cabins and campsites are generally full, so reservations are strongly recommended.
The State Parks’ website adds this information :
“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.
“”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.
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.”