It’s a Salem tradition to take to the hills via Route 22 along the North Santiam River to enjoy the fishing and camping at Detroit Lake. This large and busy 400-foot-deep reservoir is known for its boating, waterskiing, swimming, and fishing for rainbow trout, landlocked Chinook, and kokanee. Boat rentals are available at the marina. Because the reservoir was built for water storage, during drought years it can be drawn down enough to make recreation unappealing.
Although most Detroit Lake campers stay at the Detroit Lake State Recreation Area (503/854-3346, reservations 800/452-5687, www.oregonstateparks.org, $19–24) on the lake’s north shore, the more remote south-shore Cove Creek (Blowout Rd., 503/854-3366, www.fs.fed.us/r6/Willamette, $18) is much more peaceful. With 63 sites, flush toilets, pay showers, a boat launch, and other amenities, it’s still not exactly a wilderness experience, but it’s quite pleasant. Campsites are located in a lush second-growth Douglas fir forest against a slope.
Because there are no individual RV hookups, dump sites, or phones, Cove Creek is designed more for car campers than for people looking for a place to park a rig long-term. The campground is located east of Detroit off Blowout Road. Not accepting reservations, a sign on the highway will announce if the site has reached capacity.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel