The State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department created a historic new park in Eastern Oregon. Cottonwood Canyon State Park is located in Sherman and Gilliam counties along prime John Day River frontage. The John Day River is the longest free-flowing river in the Pacific Northwest and a focal salmon restoration opportunity. The territory contained in the park is unlike any outdoor or cultural experience currently offered in Oregon’s parks.
The Oregon Solutions project facilitated the development of a Cottonwood Canyon State Park Education and Interpretive Center, a joint vision between the State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and the Lower John Day Conservation Collaborative (LJDCC). Now completed, the education & interpretive center offers museum-quality conservation, historical, and cultural programming, educational facilities and print materials at Cottonwood Canyon State Park.
Both entities describe the education and interpretive center as a “gateway” to the John Day River and the four counties it occupies. From this “gateway,” students, tourists, residents, and technicians learn about and conduct research in the high desert and the John Day Basin. Past and present interpretive displays encourage further exploration of the diverse ecological and cultural opportunities through a four county road map. The center is projected to spur robust economic development through tourism and provide a platform for life-long conservation and cultural learning.