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Parks on the Willamette

There's a hidden state park in Albany, Oregon few people may know about. I lived in Albany for nearly 20 years before discovering Bowers Rock State Park. By land, the park is almost impossible to access with the only dirt road to the park having signs marked "NO TRESPASSING," "AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY," and "AREA UNDER SURVEILLANCE."

But this shouldn't deter you from experiencing 568-acres of beautiful natural riverfront habitat. Paddling into the park with your kayak or canoe from the Willamette River will reveal a welcoming riparian while you drift among floating primrose-willow on the water surface and listen to birds in the dense deciduous forest which reflects off the calm water beneath you.

Just south of downtown Salem, lining the Willamette River, is a 1,200-acre park with over 300-acres reserved as a conservation area called Minto-Brown Island Park. The park is a wildlife sanctuary where you can enjoy the sight of native birds and other wildlife. One of the best kept secrets about this wetland park is the flooding. During high river levels the park will flood and transform into a beautiful flooded forest local kayakers love to explore.

Just 15 miles north of Minto-Brown Island Park is the largest Black Cottonwood tree in North America, measuring over 150 feet tall. You'll discover this giant in Willamette Mission State Park along with Equestrian trails, walking paths, disc golf, fishing ponds, and Willamette River access.

Heading further north to the mouth of the Willamette River we'll discover approximately 12,000-acres of preserve. Sauvie Island Wildlife Area is home to more than 300 species of animals. This wildlife area offers many opportunities for you to explore the outdoors with hiking trails, birdwatching, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

The Willamette River stretches more than 180 miles with countless parks and beautiful wildlife habitats to discover and explore, making the Willamette our path to the outdoors.

Works Cited:

“Bowers Rock State Park.”, Calapooia Watershed Council, 22 Sept. 2021,

“Sauvie Island Wildlife Area Visitors' Guide.” Sauvie Island Wildlife Area Visitors' Guide | Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,

Urness, Zach. “As Willamette River Rises, Kayakers Explore Flooded Forest at Salem's Minto-Brown Island.” Statesman Journal, Statesman Journal, 11 Apr. 2019,

“Willamette Mission State Park.” Willamette Mission State Park - Oregon State Parks, Oregon State Parks,

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