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Cottonwood Canyon State Park Post Fire Restoration

Difficulty Rating: 2 of 5 October 12 (Thurs. PM) to 15 (Sunday AM) Located on the John Day River, Cottonwood Canyon State Park is Oregon's newest and second largest state park. Hay Creek Canyon, a beautiful part of the park which flows into the John Day River, burned last year. Volunteers will help to replant and clean up the canyon to allow this important area to recover from the effects of the recent fire.
When Oct 12, 2017 05:00 PM to
Oct 15, 2017 12:00 PM
Where Cottonwood Canyon State Park
Contact Name
Contact Phone (541) 330-2638
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Cottonwood Canyon State Park is Oregon’s newest state park. Formerly the Murtha Ranch, this 8,000 acre paradise exemplifies the rugged beauty of the John Day River territory with remarkable canyons, tall plateaus and sweeping sage-covered views. Cottonwood is home to bighorn sheep, Pronghorn antelope and elk, and the John Day River running through it is laden with chinook, steelhead and other species of native trout.

HERE is a map of the approximate area for reference.


As part of an ongoing effort to restore Hay Creek to its former glory, ONDA and Oregon State Parks have devised a multi year restoration strategy to reestablish conditions that will bring native salmon and steelhead back to this tributary of the John Day River. In 2017 this work will entail replanting and cleaning up Hay Creek Canyon to help it recover from effects of a wildfire that burned the canyon last year.

We typically head to the work site at 8AM and stop work by 3PM in order to leave time in the afternoon to clean-up, relax, and cook a well-deserved dinner.  It is a wonderful feeling after a day's work to look at the landscape and point out all of the fence you removed. ONDA will provide a training on how to plant and cage native plants, remove fence and all of the necessary tools to do the job. No fence pulling experience is required to attend this trip. All that is required is a love of the high desert, a big smile and a willingness to learn.

Cottonwood fence pull
Volunteers roll up fence in Hay Creek Canyon



  • Enjoy the unparalleled beauty and solitude of Hay Creek Canyon.
  • Experience off-trail hiking with forever views of the John Day Territory.
  • Delight in having a large tributary of the John Day River all to ourselves.
  • Long days of gratifying but hard work.
  • Temperatures can fluctuate widely during this time of year.



  • Thursday, October 12 (5PM): We will meet at Hay Creek Canyon and caravan to camp.
  • Friday, October 13: After breakfast, volunteers will receive training on how to plant and cage native plantings and pull barbed wire fence. Volunteers should plan to be out all day and be prepared for a full day of hiking and doing physical work in full sun.
  • Saturday, October 14: Another full day of working to restore an amazing canyon.
  • Sunday, October 15: After breakfast, we will break down camp and volunteers will have the opportunity to take a cross country hike to take in spectacular views of the John Day Country.

Hay Creek Canyon
Hay Creek Canyon, Cottonwood Canyon State Park

We will be camping in Hay Creek Canyon twelve miles beyond the entrance to Cottonwood State Park. Please plan to arrive with everything you need for the purpose of camping.


2 out of 5. This trip will require volunteers to dig holes in rocky soil, hike up and down steep creek banks, potentially pull barbed wire fence depending on what State Parks needs our help with, and be on their feet all day. Click HERE for a description of the trip difficulty rating system.


Participants are responsible for their own food, camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip. Sturdy off-trail ankle-high boots are required for this trip. Participants should be prepared to be away from camp all day each of the work days.


ONDA will provide tools for the work, some group camping equipment (shade tent, tables for cooking, wash bins for kitchen cleanup, a privy, camp chairs, and campfire supplies), potable water, expert leadership, and we can teach you all you need to know about fence pulling!


This trip will be led by Ben Gordon,
Group size is limited to 12 participants.
This trip is offered free of charge.

An ONDA registration application and medical form is required for this trip.
Click HERE for the form.  You only need to fill this form out once per year: You can join additional 2017 trips by emailing the trip leader directly.

You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 10 working days of submitting the form.  The confirmation e-mail will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full and so your name has been placed on the “wait list”.  Six weeks before the trip starts the trip leader will send out an RSVP email to make sure everyone is still available to participate.  Three weeks before the trip begins, the trip leader will send out an e-mail with additional information, maps, driving instructions, car-pooling options etc.  However, if you have any questions in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact the trip leader at the e-mail address above.

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Oregon Natural Desert Association
50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
Bend, OR 97702
Tel: (541) 330-2638

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