Another year, another new state park

Another year, another new state park
Photo courtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation.

PRAIRIE CITY, Ore. - Oregon's newest state park is about to open on a 131-acre piece of land that was once the site of a lumber mill.

Bates State Park is located in Eastern Oregon off Oregon Highway 7, one mile north of the intersection with U.S. Highway 26 at Austin Junction (about 30 miles northeast of John Day).

The lumber mill that once operated on the land, which is nestled along the Middle Fork of the John Day River, was in business for nearly 60 years. It was shut down in 1975 when another mill was built in nearby John Day. An adjacent townsite for the mill that was home to about 400 families at its peak eventually disappeared. What's left from those days is a mill pond that is a central feature of the new state park.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation

Why Are We Getting A New State Park?

Bates State Park is the eighth new state park to be opened since 2004 when former Gov. Ted Kulongoski launched his Park-A-Year initiative. The idea was to create one new state park each year for 10 years. The state uses Oregon Lottery funds to manage and improve existing parks and build new ones. Prior to Kulongoski's Park-A-Year initiative, a new state park had not been opened in Oregon in over 30 years. Here are the other new parks that have opened in our state under the initiative:

What's It Got?

There are more than three miles of trails accessible from the day-use area, which also has a picnic shelter and restroom. And unlike many state parks, there will be no charge to stop by for the day - admission will be absolutely free.

For those who want to stay overnight, the park has 28 primitive campground sites and six hiker/biker sites for those coming from the popular TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.

Sites will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and the campground will be open from May through October (weather permitting). From May 1 through Sept. 30 the primitive sites will run $10 a night and the hiker/biker sites will run $5 per night, per person. In the Discovery Season (Oct. 1 through April 30), the cost of the primitive sites will drop to $5 a night.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation

When Does it Open?

Bates State Park will officially open on Tuesday, Sept. 20. A public ceremony is planned from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. that day and will feature a reading of a poem that was written just for the occasion by Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen.