Summer is in full swing now - school is out, snow has finally stopped falling, and temps are hot hot hot yet again! Now’s the time to make memories with your family, exploring all the beautiful areas Oregon has to offer. Pulling from Travel Oregon, I’ve compiled a list of fun family activities to inspire you to get out there! These ideas are merely a drop in the bucket, visit Travel Oregon or stop by Mountain Shop today to get more inspiration! Please do your research and call ahead to ensure your destination is open. Bring plenty of sunscreen, food and water on all your adventures and be well-prepared for anything that could arise. But most importantly, have fun! 

Silver Falls State Park

Oregon is well-known for the towering, imposing waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, but with permits now necessary to access many trailheads, it can be a challenge to plan ahead and secure your spot. The good news is that there are many more beautiful waterfalls to be seen around the state! A quick, 1 hour drive from Portland is the historic city of Silverton, where Silver Falls State Park boasts several waterfalls. There is an easy eight mile loop hike, The Trail of Ten Falls, that showcases the power of the falls. If eight miles is too far for the younger members of your family, there are a variety of shorter options, paved trails, and accommodations for BBQs, overnight stays, and more. 

Southern Oregon

Want to get further away from Portland? Visit Southern Oregon on your way to or from Crater Lake to view more waterfalls with fewer people on the trails. Stop by the Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint to hike an easy, wide trail to see the 173 foot tall Mill Creek Falls. Continue on the trail to witness the beauty of Barr Creek Falls, which drops an impressive 240 feet to the Rogue River below. 

Pearsony Falls

A short drive away and equally worth a stop is Pearsony Falls. It’s unmarked, but when leaving Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint, turn right through the town of Prospect. Stop at the rest stop on your right and take the unmarked trail to the falls. Be careful of the slippery moss-covered rocks, no one wants to take an unexpected tumble or swim! Continue along the trail to see Mill Creek Falls from the top. 

 

National Creek Falls

National Creek Falls is another quick jaunt down a trail for the family to experience. These falls run year round and you’re able to get close enough to cool down in the mist!
These falls are a small selection from Travel Oregon, visit their blog post to find more waterfalls to discover in Southern Oregon.


 

Oregon is famous for its lush forests, various shades of green dancing in the dappled sun, creating a peaceful and quiet environment to pause and reflect on life. Or if you have kids, it’s a wild, wonderful playground full of critters and weird mushrooms to observe!

South of Oregon City

A secret forest I’ve spent time exploring is just south of Oregon City, the Hopkins Demonstration Forest. This 140 acre forest has five miles of trails that wind around, showing demonstration forests consisting of: mature forest management, young-stand management, thinning and pruning, uneven-aged management, reforestation, and riparian management. Hopkins shows how sustainable forestry can provide both woodland products and animal habitats. Open 7 days a week during daylight hours, grab a map when you arrive and spend some time exploring the various forests while teaching your kids about native plant and animal species. 

Eugene Area

Near Eugene is the Cascades Raptor Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center that helps sick or injured birds of prey. Learn about 34 different species of raptors residing at the center and see them up close before looking for them on your next hike! No dogs allowed, even in your car in the parking lot as they disturb the birds, so leave Fido at home for this field trip. Self guided tours are $12 for adults, $10 for students 13+, and $8 for kids 2-12. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 A.M. - 5 P.M.

One of my favorite family memories was taking Jerry’s Rogue Jet Boats up the Rogue River, on the Oregon Coast. Originally, jet boats were used to deliver mail upriver, but Jerry’s decided that mail shouldn’t be the only thing enjoying the scenery and wildlife during the boat ride! Choose from a variety of excursions to fit your budget and timeline, and enjoy making memories while laughing until your abs ache. 

Subterranean Oregon Adventures

If you’re looking for a more subterranean adventure, Oregon has a large network of underground lava tubes just begging to be explored. Don’t forget to grab a headlamp or flashlight for each person and a jacket - the temperature tends to hover around 40 degrees Fahrenheit year round! Check out the Lava River Cave, (Oregon’s longest continuous lava tube at a mile long) near Bend, or head down to Southern Oregon to pay the Oregon Caves National Monument, aka the Marble Halls of Oregon a visit. The cave system here is one of the few in the USA made out of marble instead of limestone. It was created over eons by acidic rainwater coming down from the Siskiyou Mountains leaching its way through the calcite and leaving impressive formations behind. Heads up: no food available in the park so bring a picnic lunch!

West of Ashland

Spent enough time below ground and want to get up in the canopy instead? Check out the Out ‘n’ About Treehouse Treesort near Cave Junction and 90 miles west of Ashland. There are 17 treehouses to choose from to spend the night in, turning kid’s dreams of having an epic treehouse into a reality! During the day, check out their zipline course, go for a horseback ride, or embark on a rafting trip. No dogs are allowed, so this is a trip where you’ll have to find your pup a sitter. 

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Southeastern Oregon

Head to Southeastern Oregon to escape the crowds and see some unique geological wonders! Steens Mountain is a 30 mile long fault block towering over the Alvord Desert at over 9,700 feet. Make sure you visit both to see some crazy, out-of-this-world landscapes. Bring bikes or kites to enjoy the vast expanse of the Alvord Desert and take a look up at the vast sky at night, no light pollution means more stars than you can fathom! 

 

North of Steens Mountain and just outside of Baker City is the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. The museum itself is closed for renovations but they have a temporary exhibit available and 4.2 miles of trails present wagon ruts in the ground. Learn about Oregon Trail pioneers, explorers, miners and settlers of the region while seeing remnants of an old gold mine. Imagine what it would have been like to travel in a covered wagon with your family 200 years ago. 

The John Day

If you haven’t yet visited the John Day Fossil Beds, now’s the time! There are three different units: The Clarno, Sheep Rock, and Painted Hills. The Clarno unit has mudflows, aka volcanic lahars, which preserved prehistoric plants and animals that lived in the ancient jungle that existed millions of years ago. The Sheep Rock unit got its name from bighorn sheep that have roamed that area for 95 million years. And lastly, the infamous Painted Hills unit which has beautiful, multihued hills. There are 5 short paved trails, great for even the smallest of kids. 
Now that everyone is inspired by fossils, stop by the town of Wheeler; there’s a fossil bed behind the high school where you can discover your own keepsake fossils! $15 for a family of 4 makes it a fun adventure for all. 

All pictures and information courtesy of Travel Oregon