A Closer Look At . . . Weddings and Other Events in Your Linn County Parks​

Linn County Parks has several venues that have hosted many weddings, both day-use and overnight camping weddings. So if you’re interested in knowing more about this possibility, read on! Our facilities are also great for graduation parties, family reunions, company picnics or any other use where you would be bringing together a group of people.

Our parks facilities aren’t as well-known as other wedding venues around the state, so there’s a good chance of some of our facilities being available at the time that you want them. That said though, to be sure to get the facility you want at the time you want it, make your reservation as early as you can. As the season progresses the reservation schedule will fill up. Our facilities can be reserved up to a year in advance. To reserve, we’ll ask you to fill out special use permit which is a simple checklist type form to let us know what you’re planning.

Roaring River County Park

With a large green, grassy open space and some forest and trails, Roaring River County Park might be one of the first facilities people consider for a wedding. A small river runs through the park, providing fishing opportunities. The park has three facilities that vary in size and features. The primary one that someone would likely be interested in for a wedding is shelter number 2. This is a large gazebo-style shelter that was built in 2002, and it has an interesting history.

The park was heavily forested on that side, but a windstorm destroyed the gazebo that was in that location along with some of the trees. Some of the timber was salvaged from the fallen trees and used to construct the gazebo that stands today. The gazebo is an attractive and functional hexagon shape with a rock finish and a large open center. Many of Linn County parks have gazebos in this style but this is the first one that was built in the style that people recognize today. Shelter 2 has a long sidewalk approaching it which makes it a natural choice for the center aisle for the bride and groom to walk down.

Shelter number 1 is the smallest shelter, with five tables. It is tucked into the forest on the edge of an adjacent large lawn area. Shelter number 3 is bright and sunny, has more room than number 1 and has a large, open ring of space around it.

Shelter number 2 holds 150 people, number 1 holds 75 people and shelter number 3 accommodates 75. If your guest list is more than the number of people given here, we can still likely accommodate you! But we might ask that you reserve a second group area just to be sure that there is enough parking and access to facilities for all of your guests.

Larwood Covered Bridge is a popular spot for wedding party photography even if the event is held elsewhere. This beautiful backdrop is where several weddings parties have taken photos while there wedding ceremony took place at nearby Roaring River County Park (only a 1/4-mile away).

The Roaring River shelters are available from dawn to dusk. Reservations require a $200 non-refundable reservation fee for shelter number 2 and $150 non-refundable reservation fee for the others (rates are subject to change, but if you reserve at any time your quoted rate will be honored). Acoustic music is allowed at Roaring River, however, live bands or amplified music is not permitted in the park.

Waterloo County Park

​Waterloo is another popular spot for a wedding or other group event. This park has four group areas, three with shelters and one area with a kitchenette and open picnic grilling area. Shelters and kitchenettes include electricity and water. The large gazebo (Area #1) has a $200 non-refundable reservation fee. Shelters 3 and 4 have a $150 non-refundable reservation fee. The non-sheltered picnic area #2 has a $100 non-refundable reservation fee.

​Area 1 and Area 2 are both located in the Claude Cox Addition of Waterloo Park, which has large trees that provide a shaded canopy from bright sun. Areas ​3 and 4 are located in the more open part of the park’s Santiam addition. The setup here is similar to that of Roaring River County Park, which means that if you have a group that is larger than the shelter can accommodate, you will need to let us know at the time of the reservation so we can make special arrangements, which may include reserving an additional area. Also, acoustic music is allowed at Waterloo County Park, however, live bands or amplified music is not permitted in the park.

​The shelters here have water in the shelter or close by and the larger shelters have sinks and countertop space. Benches, picnic tables and electricity are available for lighting, along with barbecue pits and other amenities for you and your guests to enjoy such as playgrounds and horseshoe pits. Waterloo does allow overnight camping but the shelter is not located in the campground.

John Neal Memorial Park

John Neal Memorial Park on the North Santiam River also has a shelter for weddings and group events and also allows overnight camping, with a large group camping area a short walk from the shelter.

Sunnyside Park and River Bend Park

​Sunnyside County Park and River Bend Parks have shelters and overnight camping. In addition, River Bend has cabins for rent. Brides have appreciated being able to rent a cabin to get dressed in and have a place to enjoy after the event. Please keep in mind that both of these are large parks and the shelters are surrounded by the campground, so while weddings can happen at both of these county parks they have limitations and are often difficult to reserve.

Other Facilities

Other Linn County Parks facilities can be reserved on a case by case basis. If you are planning a small event and want a particular location, just call and ask! We’re flexible and will do our best to help you with your special day.

A Closer Look At . . . Winter Activities at River Bend Park and Clear Lake Resort

You never can tell from year to year whether winter will bring snowfall to our area. Certainly at higher elevations there is likely to be snow at this time of year. Even at some lower elevations, with or without snow, there are a lot of fun winter activities for all ages. 

We have two facilities that are available to winter camping and lodging…Clear Lake Resort and River Bend County Park. Clear Lake has a popular promotion which allows visitors who have cabin reservations between November 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018 to buy one night and they will get a second consecutive night for free. Simply tell us on the phone that you want to use this offer, or if you book online leave a note in the guest comment section and your bill will be adjusted. 

We also have a similar coupon deal for River Bend County Park where visitors who buy one night of camping or cabin stay and get the 2nd consecutive night for half off. This is applicable for visitors staying at River Bend between January 1 and March 31, 2018. Again, simply tell us on the phone that you want to use that offer, or if you book online leave a note in the guest comment section and your bill will be adjusted. 

River Bend’s cabins are open for year-round use and make a wonderful winter getaway. We also have an enclosed shelter with a fireplace for cozy family gatherings during cold, wet weather.  River Bend provides close access to low elevation Willamette National Forest trails for hiking, or if you are a waterfall lover McDowell Creek Falls County Park is only a quick 10-mile drive away.

Higher up in the mountains, Clear Lake Resort is a short 20-minute drive from Hoodoo Ski Area on Santiam Pass, so if you’re already in that area it’s a great place to stop and get an extra dose of snow. A lot of skiers stay at Clear Lake and take advantage of the snow activities in both places.

Hoodoo has the popular Autobahn tubing area. If you’re not a skier, or you have young children, tubing is a great alternative for people who don’t ski, but want to get out in the snow. Clear Lake Resort has several areas popular for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, or hiking if there’s no snow. The Resort has close access to nearby snowmobile trails, and since the lake does not freeze over, anglers can fish year-round for a cutthroat trout. Boat rentals are available daily, all year long! While the lake is not stocked in winter, there are still plenty of fish for the hearty angler.

Lava Lake Trailhead, part of the Willamette National Forest, is a high-elevation trailhead that is just 10 minutes down the road from Clear Lake. Photographers and nature lovers in general can find many things to appreciate in this snowy landscape. The combination of the lake, trees, and lava makes for spectacular photos. From Lava Lake, it’s a short trip to the top of Santiam Pass. At 4,817 feet at the top of the pass, visitors can get clear views of Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack.

Back at the resort you can enjoy a trip around the Clear Lake Loop Trail. On a clear day the trail offer great views of the Lake and from the right spot from the northern end the Three Sisters look amazing. As the snow begins to pile up, hiking gives way to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on this 5 mile loop around the lake. Clear Lake also provides easy access to several Willamette National Forest trailheads at lower elevations, if you want to see some bare ground.

The Clear Lake cabins are open year-round, but visitors must bring their own food and bedding. The Resort is operating on its winter season generator schedule. Electrical power will be available during the following time periods; 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM, Noon to 1:00 PM, Evenings 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Winter generator hours are in effect until May 2018.

Winterizations at River Bend Park
As of November 17, 2017 River Bend County Park has been officially winterized. The following sites will have the water on: 2C, 3C, 4C, 5C, 6C, 7C, 8C, 9C, 6D, 8D. Campsites 5B & 6B will have the water on, but are used on a first come, first serve basis for a drop in at the park. All other sites will have power, but the water has been turned off/winterized. All of River Bend’s cabins are available for winter rentals. The E, F and G-loops are closed until March of 2018.

River Bend Park

A Closer Look at . . . McDowell Creek Park

One of our year-round day-use parks that we have long considered a “hidden gem” is McDowell Creek Park in Lebanon, just about 16 miles east of Lebanon. There’s no parking fee or day-use fee here.

If you’re able to go out there while it’s still fall, it’s a great time of year for beautiful fall color along the creek. Plus, a lot of water flowing over the falls makes it a dramatic and scenic landscape that is easy to get to.

One of the enjoyable things about the park is that its trails are nested in a way that makes for a combination of short hikes that can be combined into a larger hike if you want more time on the trails. Between three and four miles of trails are nested in loops that walk alongside three major waterfalls and two smaller ones.

Majestic Falls and Royal Terrace Falls are the two largest falls, and both have scenic views that are accessible from the bridges, decks and staircases that the park has become known for. We’re always surprised by the number of people in the area who either don’t know about this beautiful park or who have never visited.

Sunset magazine covered the park once, and their description summed up one of the reasons it’s an overlooked “hidden gem.” Sunset said, “If it wasn’t for Silver Falls State Park everybody would know about it.” Silver Creek overshadows McDowell Creek, but McDowell Creek is just as worthy of a visit.

Access the trail system through one of three free parking lots–a lower, middle and an upper lot. The bottom park connects to Lower McDowell Creek Falls easily, and Royal Terrace with a little more effort. Access to Royal Terrace is the longest hike. Majestic Falls is accessible from the upper parking lot through a steep staircase to get to the top of the falls. You can, of course, start in the lower lot and hike your way all the way up.

Lower McDowell Creek Falls and Royal Terrace Falls are close to the confluence of Falls Creek and McDowell Creek. Crystal Falls and Majestic Falls are in the other direction. Both Majestic Falls and Royal Terrace have significant stairs and viewing platforms. Careful! Sometimes the wooden and stone stairs and platforms can be slippery when it starts to rain.

Majestic falls 35 feet, and Royal Terrace falls from its upper level into a small pool, and then falls again for a total of 119 feet. McDowell Creek, and the falls that bears its name, was named for Jack McDowell, an early settler in the area. Royal Terrace Falls takes its name from the fact that its falls have a unique terraced appearance like what you might see in a royal palace.

The park is 110 acres in size, leaving plenty of room for exploration. To get there from the west, head to Lebanon and take a left. Go about 5 miles east of Lebanon towards Sweet Home on Highway 20, then turn left on Fairview Road. After about 5 miles, that will take you out to McDowell Creek Road and right to the park.

A Closer Look at . . . Edgewater RV Park and Marina

Not only is Edgewater RV Park and Marina right on Foster Reservoir, it offers camping and RV spots all year-round. Weather in the Sweet Home area is generally mild all year-round, and long-term RV spots at Edgewater make it an appealing spot for the RV-er looking to be close to hunting and fishing or come out from somewhere else for a long-term stay.

At Edgewater, 48 campsites are available all year, and up to 10 spots are available for long-term stays of up to 6 months, or 180 days, between October 1 and April 1. The sites offer full hookups including electricity, sewer, cable TV and wifi. Sites are available with 50-amp and 30-amp hookups and the long-term rate is $650 month or $575 for the 30-amp hookup. If you rent a campsite during the month of October, we’re also giving you one of 18 lake side boat slips for free (depending on availability and water conditions)! It’s a great opportunity to stay in the Willamette Valley for the winter and be very close to hiking, hunting and fishing.

Hiking, hunting and fishing in the winter? Yes! The sites at Edgewater are not right on the lake, but they are as close as you can get and still be close to Sweet Home. Edgewater is right on the eastern edge of Sweet Home and the western edge of Foster Lake, with great lake access. Access to hunting in the east Linn County area is easy.

Fall weather is often beautiful, and many of the people who would use the area in the summertime are not there in the fall, once back-to-school starts. The Sweet Home Ranger District is one of the lowest elevation districts in the entire Willamette National Forest, and as such that area gets almost no snow at all. Just east of the Edgewater site, about 10 to 15 miles, is easy access to all of the hiking trails within the Willamette National Forest. Because there’s so little snow in that area, you can do a lot of late-season hiking including winter hiking. When other areas are socked in with fog, quite often this area is still sunny.

Fishing for trout and kokanee on Green Peter Reservoir is quite good during the winter months. And even though the reservoir draws down its water level at that time, the fishing remains good all year. If you’re not from the area and want to get the scoop on sweet spots, give Dan-Dee Sales in Sweet Home a call. They’re a local fishing, hunting and camping store that is always willing to share information.

Anglers can catch fall salmon and steelhead right on the South Santiam River just below Foster Reservoir, and the fish can move up to the reservoir, so it is possible to catch those fish there too. Waterloo County Park, with over a mile of river frontage right on the South Santiam River, is a great access point. John Neal Memorial Park is a nearby area that is available or day use that also has good fall salmon and steelhead access.

One of the great things about fall in the Linn County area is the fall colors that you can see along roads and rivers as the leaves start to change. Drive the 66-mile Over The River & Through The Woods Scenic Byway, which goes from the Willamette Valley to the West Cascade Mountains. The route follows US-20 east past Foster Reservoir, generally following the route of the Historic Santiam Wagon Road. The byway ascends to 4,236 feet at Tombstone Pass. It’s a windy road that forces you to drive slowly . . . all the better to enjoy the beautiful fall scenery.

We’ve had such a great response to our buy-one-get-one-free night at Clear Lake that we’re doing it again this year. Mention the “Clear Lake Winter Discount” when you make a reservation between November 1, 2017, and April 30, 2018 and when you book one night in a cabin you get the second night free.


A Closer Look At . . . Whitcomb Creek

Whitcomb Creek Park Is Getting An Expansion

Whitcomb Creek will close for repairs and renovations in October, but we’re so excited about the changes we’ve been making to it that we want to make sure you know about it now.

The Whitcomb Creek campground is located on Green Peter Reservoir. Prior to the work we’ve done over the course of last year, there was a 4-unit campground there. Now it’s more than doubled to approximately 90 sites.

Many of the campsites sit above the lake with great views. The sites are deep, and many of them are quite large. Some of them are doubles, where people can camp back-to-back with other groups of campers. A trail in the park leads to a boat ramp, so there’s direct access to the lake from the park. The expansion has also created a large group camping area that can accommodate close to 100 people or six to 10 RVs. The newly expanded Whitcomb Creek is a great base camp location to access forest service trails to the Middle Fork Wilderness as well as Quartzville Creek, designated as a Wild and Scenic River.

Whitcomb Creek Park’s campground has been available to users this summer as part of our “soft opening” as we completed the additional work. Park visitors can check out and enjoy the park as it is now, and know that the work will soon be done!

As of now, the campsites are mostly complete but are missing some amenities such as the picnic table pads, cooking grates and landscaping. This fall we’ll finish off the construction of the sites themselves, adding in the missing table pads and fire rings.

The park is a wonderful resource in summertime, as it is located right on the reservoir. Surrounded by large trees, it offers a lot of shade and the feel of being in a lush Oregon forest. Green Peter is a large reservoir–it’s one of the largest reservoirs in the Willamette Valley–and provides excellent access to fishing and water sports. Fishers of kokanee can be hard pressed to find a better spot.

The park itself closes in the fall (October) but Green Peter Reservoir is accessible year-round. Fishermen in the area know that no matter what time of year of it is, Green Peter is a great spot for fishing all year-round. Anglers and boaters can access the reservoir from the Thistle Creek Boat Ramp, which is just prior to Whitcomb Creek approximately 10 miles from the intersection of Highway 20 and Quartzville Road.

The additional campsites were designed in response to a change made by the US Army Corps of Engineers. A few years ago they closed many dispersed campsites along Quartzville Road, which parallels Whitcomb Creek. The Whitcomb Creek expansion opens up many new sites to alleviate some of the lack of access that occurred when those other campsites were closed.

These expansions are exciting, but they aren’t the only things we have planned! Future expansions include yurts and cabins in the park, which will provide opportunities for more diverse experiences for campers, whether they are tent campers or RV campers. Showers and restroom buildings are also planned.

Stay tuned for more updates and the work continues. And we encourage you to check out Whitcomb Creek Park and see these improvements for yourself!

Plan Your Trip

Linn County Parks offers family-friendly well-maintained parks, fishing, boating, camping, museums, and historic sites.

Find a Park

Hiking trails, waterfalls, covered bridges, and swimming areas are among the points of interest at our 30 parks.

Places to Camp

Spend a weekend in the heart of the Willamette valley at one of more than 400 campsites.