A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Oregon’s neglected state park: Bowers Rock

Written February 21st, 2024 by Hasso Hering

The entrance to Bowers Rock State Park on Feb. 21, 2024: Someone left a half-burned can as trash.

For February, the weather was nice on Wednesday afternoon. I  used the occasion for one of my occasional visits to Bowers Rock State Park, which must rank as the most neglected of all the Oregon state parks.

Here’s what I said after I got off the bike inside the park:

Bowers Rock has been a park since the 1970s at least, but it sure doesn’t look like one.

Upstream of Albany on the Willamette River, the park is within a couple of miles of downtown. But there’s nothing there other than signage at the entrance designating it as a state park.

Few people go there because the access road, from the corner of Bryant Way and Bryant Drive, is marked by signs proclaiming it as a private road where only authorized vehicles are allowed.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department insists that the public has a right to use that road based on what it says in some old deed. But the state has made no effort to enforce that right or to let the public know that the right exists.

For years, there’s been a sign at the entrance saying that the park was supported by the Land and Water Conservation Fund of the National Park Service “to provide outdoor recreation and open spaces for all.”

Maybe somebody could let the Park Service know about Bowers Rock. Ask them if the recreation goal is met when people are discouraged from accessing the place. (hh)

The National Park Service sign at the entrance to Bowers Rock State Park.

11 responses to “Oregon’s neglected state park: Bowers Rock”

  1. Richard Bobbitt says:

    Maybe someone should ask the Governor why the park is not developed.

    • MeS says:

      I think we all know why it’s not developed. The landowners around the park have a NIMBY stranglehold on effective access (not just the skinny, poorly-located road on the east side). Condemning enough property for an entrance is within the state’s power, but they are understandably hesitant to use it.

      Without enough access for park rangers to deal with maintenance, accidents, trash, human waste, etc. that would come with heavier use, I think it would be irresponsible to merely “let the public know that the right exists”, Hasso. I wish someone would get aggressive about getting the park open, but doing it that way is a recipe for disaster, IMO.

  2. Jeff B. Senders says:

    Local residents prefer the Park remains undeveloped due to increased traffic, not to mention camping. The surrounding streets have no shoulders so this increases the dangers for the many walkers and bicyclists, to include our favorite reporter. There are already 5 crosses in the area. Perhaps if Linn County ever widens Riverside Drive from the Grange to Highway 34 the safety issue will be diminished. Same with Bryant. The County Road Engineer is aware of this problem. At last report the road widening, not bike path, is 3 years away at the earliest. If Bowers Rock STATE Park is ever developed, will there be funds allocated to include bicycle and pedestrian safety?

  3. Craig says:

    Bowers Rock is a beautiful park. Well worth the attempt to get in there. I do recommend a bicycle. It is a long walk without it.

  4. Ben Roche says:

    I really love visiting when I can, but as you pointed out, it is not convenient for most with no parking and protective neighbors. If you venture out again, please consider sharing the other areas of the park, including trail back the lakes. I know those that fish, may not want competition, but again, it is in fact public lands, and if more people could appreciate it and put pressure on our elected representatives to make it more accessible, that would be a benefit for the community at large.

  5. Al Nyman says:

    Maybe someone should ask the state why they think a 30′ easement, which Linn County rejected so they wouldn’t have to continue road maintenance on Bryant
    way when Hub City shut down, is valid for a state park.

  6. Nate Conroy says:

    I found it interesting to learn the history of the park as an artifact of a wider effort to establish State Parks up and down the Willamette — a sort of loop-hole to get around private property interests. The park is mentioned at minute 22 of this well done video on story of McCall’s effort to establish a 200 mile park in the early 1970’s: https://youtu.be/gwqzl8BNO4g?si=vdJIuFFXIigDdTaQ&t=1240

  7. Cap B. says:

    Well, leave the park alone for the use of wildlife. Humans are the most destructive species on this earth, so a place humans can’t easily reach is fine.

  8. Rick Sherman says:

    About 15-20 years ago, we were trying to find a new home cross country course for South Albany. We used to try running there for workouts and got chased away by the homeowner there at the entrance.

  9. chris j says:

    Cap B is so right! Humans can’t resist sticking their grubby little fingers in everything that is not theirs. Wildlife need homes too. Without us mucking these places up maybe we will have wildlife for future people to protect. It is not like we haven’t screwed up enough areas to continue “enjoying” them.


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