The Cove Palisades State Park

Park History

The original park land in the Crooked River Canyon was acquired by lease agreement with the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1940. Additional land was obtained by purchase from the State Land Board, Jefferson County and private owners between 1941 and 1961. The acquired lands included a gift of eight acres from the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1946. When Portland General Electric Company's Round Butte Dam was constructed near the confluence of the Crooked, Deschutes and Metolius rivers between 1961 and 1964, land exchanges were made with Portland General Electric, and the surplus released to the U. S. Department of Agriculture and Jefferson County. Additional lands were acquired in 1966 and 1977. The Cove Palisades includes a great expanse of central Oregon semi-arid plateau dissected by the deep cutting river channels of the Crooked, and Metolius rivers as they meet to form the larger Deschutes River. Revealed in the steep canyon walls is the geologic history of the region, starting some 10 to 12 million years ago. Basaltic lava flows occurred in the last 50,000 years, which filled canyons in the park. Again, the rivers began to erode these canyons to their present configuration, and large landslides occurred in the steep-walled canyons. The "Cove" refers to an outcropping half way down the Crooked River Canyon wall which was visible before the dam pool was formed. In the 1950s, visitors drove into the Crooked River and Deschutes River canyons to see the geologic formations. The area was modestly developed for camping and day use. Now these canyons are flooded to a depth of 800-900 feet by Lake Billy Chinook behind Round Butte Dam. The park consequently serves many more people with larger campgrounds, day-use picnic areas, boating facilities, as well as concession areas. Swimming, fishing and boating are popular activities at the park.

Acreage: 4,402.8

Annual overnight attendance: 82,731

Annual day-use attendance: 458,960

The Cove Palisades State Park FAQ


Where can I find information on boat/watercraft rentals?

Lake Billy Chinook is home to The Cove Palisades Resort and Marina, the mecca for houseboating, water skiing, and fishing in Central Oregon!  Click on the link above for more information. 

Is boat and trailer moorage included in the Cabin Rental price?

No.  If you are staying in one of the Cove Palisades State Park cabins and wish to moorage your boat and trailer, you are required to pay and additional fee through the Cove Palisades Resort and Marina.  Click Marina Services for more details.

Curious About Eagle Watch?

Join us for Eagle Watch - A "Culver tradition" since 1996!  This is a fun, free, family weekend event where you can get up close to a golden eagle or a great horned owl, view wild golden and bald eagles at Lake Billy Chinook, talk to birds of prey experts, learn how you can make a difference, join your kids - play with our bird adaptations, build a bluebird house (Sat) or bird feeder (Sun), support Culver Middle School S.T.E.M. program, donations accepted for the free hot dog lunch.  Eagle Watch has an all new logo this year and fantastic new EW souvenirs - don't miss out.  Our traditional raffle will be replaced with an all new silent auction with plenty of great local items to bid on.  All proceeds go directly to the Oregon Eagle Foundation.  Don't miss out, Sunday, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will demonstrate native tribal dances - a must see!  

Event Partners include:  Oregon Eagle Foundation, Portland General Electric, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, USFS Crooked River Grassland and Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.  Eagle Village Sponsors:  East Cascades Audubon Society, Sunriver Nature Center, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Wild Birds Unlimited, BLM, Earth H2O, and more!

Auction and Art Contest Sponsors:  Cascade Lavender, High Desert Museum, John Finch, Portland General Electric, Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, Indian Head Casino, KWSO, Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, Museum at Warm Springs, Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept., Sunriver Nature Center, Tumalo Kayak and Canoe, Wild Birds Unlimited, and more!

Crooked River Campground will re-open Friday, February 20!

Where: Round Butte Overlook Park, Madras

When: February 27 & 28, 2016 10 am - 4 pm daily

Cash and personal checks only - No ATM onsite. 

Directions from Madras:  From Hwy 26/97, travel west on SW J Street, cross Hwy. 361 & proceed west on Belmont Lane for 6.8 miles to Mountain View Drive, turn south onto Mountain View Drive for 1.7 miles to access road and sign to Round Butte Overlook Park.  Turn west onto signed access road for 0.8 mile to Round Butte Overlook Park.

Best Places to Hike at The Cove?

More than three miles of hiking trails are available near the Deschutes River Campground.  Traveling over gentle hills and shallow gullies, these trails are perfect for those family strolls and quick trips to and from the lake.  View points and rest stations are featured at various locations. This is also a great spot to explore the park in a different light and take a night hike.

The Self Guided Nature Trail is a short loop with 8 visitor stations designed to learn about and enjoy the high desert plants and animals.  Trail brochures are available at the park's headquarters building or in the Deschutes Campground. 

The Tam A Lau Trail is an expierence of a lifetime.  The hike is a total of six miles round trip from the campground or seven miles from the Upper Deschutes day-use area trailhead.  From the trailhead to the top of the high platue the trial gains 600 feet in elevation.  On the way up you will pass through areas that are rich in wildlife and unspoiled native vegitation; as well as three unique geological formations.  At the top, the trail makes a 3.5 mile loop around the Peninsula, which affords spectacular views of the high Cascade Mountain peaks and the Deschutes and Crooked River Canyons. 

When hiking at The Cove, remember to always take water, check the weather before you go, wear sturdy hiking shoes, dress in layers, stay on the trail at all times, keep dogs on leash and have a great time!  Fall and winter is a great time to hike at The Cove.  Use caution on the Tam A Lau Trail when wet, the mud can be slippery.

About Camping

Can I check in early?

Check in is at 4 p.m., however if you come early, you can not check in before 1 p.m. and then staff needs time to clean and water the site.  If all that has been accomplished, then you may be able to get in earlier than 4 p.m.

Statewide FAQ

Available via this link