Scenic beauty, camping and water recreation are at their finest at this high desert park. Mountain waters flowing out of the Ochoco Mountain Range join to form the Crooked River. The river, confined by its canyon and the Bowman Dam, forms the 15-mile long, 3,000-acre Prineville Reservoir. The park comprises the main day-use area and campground, the Jasper Point boat ramp and campground, and numerous drive-in and boat-in primitive campsites along the 43-mile shoreline.
The stars truly shine brighter here, earning the park a rare designation as a certified International Dark Sky Park. The certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the park's night skies as well as the park's efforts to install responsible lighting that minimizes light pollution. If you're staying the night, check the park calendar on site for scheduled night sky programs.
The main day-use area has a boat ramp as well as a roped-off swimming area, accessible fishing pier and fish cleaning station; 32 boat moorages are available. Boat launching is also available at Jasper Point and the US Bureau of Reclamation's Crook County, Powderhouse Cove, and Roberts Bay East boat ramps. To escape the crowds and see more wildlife, drive east on a dirt road that follows the northeast shoreline for 6 miles to Combs Flat Road. This portion of the lake is more shallow and narrow, and the shoreline is mudflat, meadow, or willow shrubland.
Fishing is excellent anytime; the lake supports rainbow trout, small and largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and crayfish. Fish for trout year-round by boat or from shore; the biggest fish are known to bite during the winter months. Bass, catfish and crappie fishing is best between May and October. For information, see the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fishing report.
As part of the Crooked River Federal Reclamation Project, the Department of the Interior authorized the construction of Bowman Dam between 1958 and 1961. The project's purpose was to furnish water for irrigation, flood control and fish and wildlife management. Through the Crook County Court, and a lease from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the land for the park was obtained in 1961. A lease agreement between the Bureau of Reclamation and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department allows the State to manage and maintain the natural resources and recreational uses on the reservoir.