The Cove Palisades State Park is a spectacular place. Here are some things to think about on your next Cove adventure to protect yourself, the land, and the animals who call The Cove home.
7 Ways to Care for Yourself and The Cove:
1. Know before you go
- Lock up: It’s a fact; criminals exist, even at the lake. It’s best to leave your valuables at home. If you need to bring them, secure your valuables in your trunk or carry them.
- Camel up: Central Oregon climate is dry and in the summer it gets hot. Trailheads in the park do not have water, bring plenty. You may get really thirsty even if there is water all around you.
- Weather up: People joke in Central Oregon, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 30 minutes and it will change.” Check the forecast before you go.
- Dress up: Dress in layers and be prepared. The water temperature in Lake Billy Chinook is rarely warm, even in the summer. If you are going out on the water, bring an extra change of clothes.
- Map up: The Cove has 10 miles of hiking trails on land. The Tam A Lou Trail is seven miles round trip. There are also trails just west of Deschutes Camp with a self-guided nature trail that is great for kids. There are 30 miles of paddle trial on the Crooked and Deschutes Rivers. Be sure to know where you are going and what you or your group is up to.
- Pack up: Now is the time to haul that backpack out of the closet. Bring your first aid kit, your valuables, a map, a hoodie, water, and a snack. It’s always when we leave these things in our car or at camp that we need them.
2. Stick to trails
- Stay on trails: In addition to damaging plants and confusing those who follow you, leaving trails exposes you (and us, your rescuers) to dangerous conditions. The Cove is wildly steep. Stay found and uninjured.
- Stay behind rails: Resist the urge to find a better spot to take that photo. Volcanic rock can be slick, crumbly or sharp; that great shot could be your last.
- Leave a trail: Before you head out, leave a paper or electronic note. Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Plans changed? Let your person know! If you are going out on the Tam A Lou Trail, sign in at the trailhead kiosk.
Cell coverage is spotty in The Cove, so don’t count on your phone for help.
If you get lost, STOP walking & Hug A Tree! Tress offer shade/shelter. Stay in one place until you are found. That way searchers will find you sooner and you will be less likely to get hurt. Some things that might be helpful to hike with would be a trash bag (to use as shelter or a rain poncho – NEVER put a trash bag over your head without a hole for your face.), a whistle, and a signal mirror. If you hear someone yelling or blowing a whistle, yell back! If you hear a helicopter, go out in the open and make yourself BIG. Wave your arms, put on brightly colored clothing, or make a big X on the ground out of sticks.
3. Trash your trash and scoop the poop
- Pack out what you pack in: Fetching trash on the edge of a cliff is not fun.
- Don’t let your dog’s business become someone else’s: Clean up after your pet. Poop bags are located at each trailhead.
4. Leave it as you find it
- Take pictures and memories, and leave only the print of your shoe . . . or toes if you’re the barefoot type.
- Consider the “Big Picture”: The Cove sees over a million visitors a year. If we all took a wildflower, rock, artifact, snake, or , there wouldn’t be anything left for anyone else to see.
- Remove hitchhikers: The seed kind. Invasive plants threaten the Cove’s ecology. Check your boots after your hike. Brush Lassie while you’re at it. Aquatic Invasive Species threaten Oregon’s waterways. If you are in a boat, remember, clean, drain, dry your boat.
- Pay it forward: Feeling ambitious? Pack out someone else’s trash or doggy doo bag (never pick up anything dangerous, let a ranger know where it is); or volunteer for a restoration project.
5. Be mindful with fire
- Do we mind? Many public lands prohibit fires. Here at State Parks, we prohibit fires outside of fire rings and when fire danger is extreme.
- Have you minded? If a fire is permitted in the area you’re visiting, make sure to keep an eye on it and put it out, dead out, before walking away. Put your fire out before you go to bed if you’re camping. You don’t want to be remembered as the guy or gal who burned down The Cove. Remember tiki torches are not allowed in camp or on the beach.
- Keep in mind: Any fire (or spark) can start a fire. This could be anything from a smoldering cigarette or a candle to a spark from your engine on dry grass.
* The park manager may place temporary restrictions on fires in the park during high fire danger – especially in the summer when its hot, dry and windy.
6. Keep wildlife wild
- Leash your pets: This keeps your pets, others’ pets, and wildlife safe. There is an off-leash area in both the Deschutes and Crooked River Camps for your dog to have some off-leash fun.
- Wildlife can look like big stuffed animals and kids like to touch. When wild animals are scared, they bite, scratch, claw, sting and kick. Even if nothing happens that time, the animal doesn’t know that they next child might hurt it. Teach your children not to pet, pick up or hold any wild animals no matter how cute and cuddly they appear.
- Resist feeding our adorable golden mantle squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and deer. These animals can become aggressive and will attack. We know, they beg. And steal. Do not assist them in this life of crime. It isn’t healthy.
7. Share our trails (and our roads and beaches)
- Many different people, withmany different ideas about what is most important, visit The Cove. We have motorized boaters, non-motorized boaters, anglers, sunbathers, swimmers, paddle boarders,water skiers, hikers, bikers, scooters, dog walkers, drivers, bird watchers, enforcement officers and more. Best practice is to make your presence politely known to other users you might spook. Drivers, please do not cut corners or drive on the wrong side of the road. Its dangerous . On the water:
- Meeting head-on — Except when risk of collision exists, boaters must bear right and pass on the other boat’s left side.
- Crossing — When approaching at an angle, the boat on the right side has right-of-way.
- Passing — A boat may overtake another boat on either side, but must grant right-of-way to the boat that is overtaken.
- Boats proceeding downriver have right-of-way over boats proceeding upriver. Note: Having the right-of-way does not allow the operator to endanger others.
- The Cove gets crowded. Sunny days, weekends and holidays bring visitors out by the thousands. Tired of sharing? There is more than one place to go for summer fun. Not everyone needs to stop at the Crooked River Day-use Area. Drive a few more miles down the road and try the Upper or Lower Deschutes Day Use Areas; they have boat launches, beaches, swim areas, picnic areas and more.