the wandering chick
The Cove Palisades State Park
such beauty in the middle of nowhere

So, you're driving down the highway that's not the most exciting you've ever been on, typical for high desert. Then you see the exit sign for The Cove Palisades State Park. Anticipation rises a notch, if, as in my case, you've not been there before.

Now the roads are surrounded by farm fields, and each one-mile sign to the park leads to a turn and yet another one-mile sign. And you're thinking: "What could this park possibly be like? There's nothing here."

And then you descend into the canyon.

Who could imagine the scenery could change so dramatically? All of a sudden you're surrounded by towering basalt cliffs as you drive along the most beautiful green water of Lake Billy Chinook, named after a local Wasco Indian who guided American pioneers through the area in the mid-1840s..

It's definitely a piece of paradise in central Oregon's semi-arid environment. If you're ever in the area, check it out. Hotels are scarce, but it has two full-hookup RV and tent campgrounds.

Lake Billy Chinook from the Tam-a-lau Trail
A view of The Island from the Tam-a-lau Trail. The Island is a 200-acre plateau and home to one of the last nearly pristine ecosystems of its kind in the U.S. Because of its great ecological significance it was disignated as a Research Natural Area in 1986, closing it off to recreational use.
Lake Billy Chinook
road at the bottom of the canyon
Lake Billy Chinook
down in the canyon
the lake at Crooked River Day Use area
There are day-use areas that give boating, swimming and picnic access to the water.
motor boats in the lake
from an overlook to the water
Stunning views can be had from the cliff tops.
boating on the lake
There's a road outside the park boundaries but within three or four miles that has several overlooks from which you not only can see the lake but also the Cascade Range. On the days I visited, the Cascades including Mt Hood were behind clouds. I could barely make them out, but imagined how stunning it must be on a clear day.
Overlooking the lake
Overlooking the lake
the basalt cliffs
a view of the cliffs and water
the cliffs from the water's edge
view of the cliffs and bridge
the cliffs
a boarder on the water
the water's edge
part of the Tam-a-lau trail
view of the bridge that crosses the lake
closeup of the basalt rock
The Tam-a-lau Trail climbs to what is called "The Peninsula" where breath-taking views of the area can be had. Sadly, the rain started up again. "I'd love to be on the side of a mountain in the thunder and rain," said I never. So I scrambled down, missing the view. But others comparable were to be had, so I wasn't disappointed.
the Tam-a-lau Trail
sagebrush on the side of the cliffs
the green Lake Billy Chinook
farm land outside the park
A stark contrast is the farm land just above and outside the boundaries of the canyon park.

To see more Oregon sites, please return to the Oregon home page.


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