daytime visitors annually
acres of state parks open to the public
This is a landmark achievement for people to experience a spectacular stretch of one of the West’s great Wild and Scenic River corridors.— Sue Doroff, President, Western Rivers Conservancy Read Their Story
A Park for Adventurers
Rugged and vast, Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon’s largest state parks at over 8,000 acres. Bordered by another 10,000 acres of federally-maintained public lands, this special place gives a new depth of meaning to the phrase “getting away from it all”. Before white settlers took hold of this land, the river was known as the Mah Hah to the Native Americans. In the 19th Century it was renamed the John Day River as part of a privately-owned cattle ranch. Between 1964 and 2008, the canyon and surrounding property were purchased by Oregon State Parks and the Western Rivers Conservancy. Seeking to protect the canyon while allowing the public to access the breathtaking area, Cottonwood Canyon became an Oregon State Park in 2013. With help from Oregon Lottery dollars, it’s been transformed into a unique wilderness and recreation experience for Oregonians and visitors alike. In 2019, more than $2 million in lottery dollars helped fund a learning center, cabins and restrooms, making it easier for visitors to set up a base camp from which to explore all Cottonwood Canyon has to offer. Plans are in the works to build a boat launch for easier access to the clear and open waters of the John Day, the largest free flowing river in the western United States. This undammed waterway is home to a year-round angler’s delight. Winter native steelhead, catfish and summer small-mouth bass mean the fish are constantly biting. Down the road, there’ll be even more ways to access the wild, back country of Cottonwood Canyon. Whether you choose to visit when spring turns the hills green or in winter when snow blankets the cliffs, just make sure you go to this unique and special place. It’s a perfect sample of the natural beauty of Oregon.
Thompson’s Mills State Historic Site
When you think of the Oregon State Park system, you might picture sparkling waterfalls or stunning desert landscapes—places to hike, camp or simply reconnect with nature. And while these settings and activities can certainly be found in our iconic state parks, there are also a dozen or so lesser known sites that are equally important to Oregon’s culture. These are the Oregon State Heritage sites and areas, also administered by the Oregon State Parks system. And while some of them offer the same sorts of landscapes and scenery of our many state parks, what makes them truly special is their unique tie to Oregon history. One of the newest among these designated sites is Thompson’s Mills State Historic Site in Shedd, Oregon. The mill was built along the banks of the Calapooia River in 1858, predating Oregon statehood by a year. It operated continuously until the property was purchased by Oregon Parks and Recreation in 2004, making it the longest running water-powered business in the state. Opened to the public in 2007, the mill now offers a unique exploration of Oregon’s days of early settlement.
Restoring a Historic Salem Garden
Lottery funds help rebuild original brick walkways at the Lord & Schryver Conservancy.
Salem’s Museum of Mental Health
Housed in what was once the Oregon State Asylum, a state-of-the-art Salem museum now chronicles the history of mental health treatment.
Tumalo State Park: A One-Stop Shop of Fun
Fresh air, a crystal-clear river and an abundance of walking and hiking trails can all be found at the ruggedly beautiful Tumalo State Park. With over 321,616 visitors each year, it’s no secret that adventure-seekers and nature-lovers are drawn to this Central Oregon hub. Because of its ideal location and array of activities, the park attracts enthusiasts and hikers familiar with the outdoors as well as those looking for a serene setting and a quick get-away. Tumalo offers the perfect array of hiking, fishing and raw nature for the active types, as well as picnic and camping areas for those in search of rest and relaxation. Tumalo just might be the best “one-stop-shop” when it comes to experiencing the unique terrain of Central Oregon. And, with the help of Lottery dollars, this 330-acre park continues to offer varied experiences for all levels of wanderlust.