This state park in the middle of Oregon is one of my favorites:
The Cove Palisades State Park in Culver, OR
The first time I happened upon it, my travel buddy, Holly, and I were actually doing a little road trip around Oregon, and had ended up not spending all the alloted planned time at Smith Rock State Park (we just stopped for a quick walk - not the intense hike or rock climbing that Smith Rock is known for).
The Cove Palisades State Park is only 30 minutes from the popular Smith Rock State Park, and looks pretty small on the map, but it wasn’t going to add that much time to our day, so we thought it would be worth a quick stop.
The moment we caught sight of The Cove, our conversation abruptly stopped! (…and it was a very good conversation happening!)
Because this view. Seriously breathtaking.
This first time visit happened at the end of April 2017 where, as you can see, there is a bit of green accenting the red and black canyon walls. But I have been there in every season, and it is still one of my favorite places to just go and enjoy the beauty.
What to Do Here:
Enjoy the views - the water, the sheer walls, and on a good day, the mountains!
There is a road (SW Mountaintop View Dr) that goes along the rim of with a couple of turnouts that get you to edge (and Viewpoint 1 actually connects to a trail that you can walk south along down the rim).
Drive down the canyon, over the bridge, and back up the other side
There are a few homes and seasonal camp sites on the west side of the park. As always, make sure you have enough gas in your car because you want to be able to make it back into town
There is a designated swimming area at the Crooked River Day Use park that has picnic tables and restrooms nearby (during the summer there can be an algae problems, but it is still an enjoyable, easy place to swim at)
Boating, Jet-skiing and other water rentals (seasonal)
There are boat and jet-ski rentals available at the Cove and near it in Culver. Our jet-skiing experience was AMAZING, and I hope to do it again… it was that fun! There are lots of different rental options through Cove Palisades Resort company which has a marina on the water.
There are several camping options in the area (camping options). Although I have not personally camped there, I have been told by an avid camper that is a fabulous place to camp at
Cafe on the Bluff & Store (seasonal)
A little restaurant and store (owned by the Cove Palisades Resort) - the food wasn’t anything spectacular, but the deck overlooking the Cove has pretty great views
Things to Know:
There is a day use fee of $5 (you can get the day permit at the kiosk in the parking lot) or just hang your Oregon State Park permit in your car.
the locals call it “The Cove”
The Cove is where three rivers meet (Crooked River, the Deschutes, and the Metolius) and was purposefully filled with water (now at 800-900ft depth) after the creation of the Round Butte Dam in the 1960s