Heading north from Bend , travelers needn’t put away their recreational gear. Just outside of Madras  is a park that offers hiking, boating, fishing, waterskiing, and bird-watching. Cove Palisades State Park (541/546-3412 or 800/551-6949, www.oregonstateparks.org ) is located 14 miles southwest of Madras off U.S. 97.
Towering cliffs, Cascade vistas, gnarled junipers, and Lake Billy Chinook with its 72-mile shoreline create a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities. The lake was created when Round Butte Dam backed up the waters of the Deschutes, Metolius, and Crooked Rivers.
For the best views of how these rivers come together, hike up the Tam-a-lau Trail (a quick 600-foot elevation gain) to the top of the Peninsula, a plateau of land between the backed-up Crooked and Deschutes Rivers. At the top, the trail makes a loop around the Peninsula with good views onto the Cascades and the river canyons.
In total it’s six miles round-trip, best done in the springtime when it’s not too hot and when the balsamroot and lupine are in bloom.
Two overnight campgrounds offer all the amenities: Deschutes Camp (May–mid-Sept.) has 82 full-hookup sites and 92 tent sites; the year-round Crooked River camp, perched right on the canyon rim, has 93 sites with electricity and water.
Campsites cost $20–26; reserve through Oregon State Parks (800/452-5687), as these are extremely popular campgrounds.