This past weekend my boyfriend and I spent two incredible days camping in The Cove Palisades State Park and ohmygosh, the views were just indescribable. If I had to try to describe it though, I would say it feels like a small Grand Canyon with three different rivers at the bottom.
Just across the Cascade Mountains, three of Oregon’s most prominent rivers collide, creating a place like no other in the state. The merging of the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius rivers – and the manmade lake “Lake Billy Chinook” is a desert oasis that has become one of the best loved parks in Oregon.
In 2017, The Cove Palisades attracted nearly 460,000 visitors. That’s down from a peak of more than 668,000 in 2003, but overnight visitors to the park have held steady in that time, averaging almost 81,000 people each year. That so many people have continued to vacation at The Cove Palisades is a testament both to park management and the spectacular natural beauty found there. -statistic taken from oregonlive.com
With four boat ramps and a large marina within the state park, The Cove Palisades is a prime location for fishing, skiing, and even house boating! The marina has plenty of day and multi-day rentals including ski boats, fishing boats, house boats, and basically anything else you’d need for a weekend on the water!
We didn’t have time to do it this weekend, but a park ranger did tell Sam and I that if we wanted to kayak from the Upper Deschutes day-use site, it’d be about a 2 mile paddle down to see where the greenish water of the cove meets with the crystal clear water of the river!
The Tam-a-láu Trail is the only true hike within the park. With a lollipop type loop and about 700 feet of elevation gain, this trail can be anywhere from 5-9 miles depending on what sites you want to see and how much you want to walk. All of the elevation gain is in the beginning of the hike, with a somewhat steep incline (you guys will be just fine), and then a large loop around the plateau of the “palisade”. What Sam and I ended up hiking, based on numerous suggestions from other sites and friends of ours, was to hike up to the beginning of the loop and start towards the left instead of the right. Going towards the left gave us the incredible views of two of the rivers merging, and of the island, without having to cross too much of the desert terrain. Many other sites suggest this route as well because of the limited views when starting to the right. On a less cloudy day you’ll get views of the Deschutes Arm of the cove and the Cascades including: Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Jefferson!
With that being said, we didn’t hike much further than around the left rim of the plateau because of Sam’s bad knee, so our final hike was just about 5 miles (including the half mile walk from the parking lot to the trailhead and back).
We chose to stay at the Deschutes Campground in the RV spaces, even though we use a truck tent, just so we could have the little extra electricity for lights and our stove! It has some of the cleanest bathrooms and showers I’ve ever seen in a state park!
I just want to take a quick second to thank EVERYONE who keeps up with That Hiking Girl and takes the time to read the articles, like the pictures on Instagram, and give any little bit of love :) You guys rock!! I’m starting to explore more than I ever have and there’s so much to share, but it takes a ton of time in between all the hours I actually have to be at my job each week lol
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