With its sand dunes to climb, cascading falls to contemplate, mountains to trek and sparkling waters to paddle, Oregon is a nature-lover’s paradise. And it’s not just for the young adventurist or avid hiker: The state offers abundant spots for families to pitch a tent — or rent a yurt (a circular tent with a design used by nomadic Central Asian peoples) — and explore these wonders together.
From among the many gems, we’ve selected five places to consider camping with your kids this summer. We included a nearby parish where your family could attend Sunday Mass and some tips for keeping your small campers happy.
Cape Lookout State Park
Located just north of Pacific City, it is nestled in a lush coastal forest on a sandy spit between the Pacific Ocean and Netarts Bay. The park has tent sites, recreational vehicle spots, yurts and cabins. The yurts are rustic, while the cabins offer amenities such as a kitchen and shower. The spot includes more than 8 miles of hiking and walking trails that wind through the forests and around the campground. It also can serve as a basecamp for the 40-mile Three Capes Scenic Loop. Within the loop, you and your kiddos can: Climb the sand dune at Cape Kiwanda, which includes brilliant sandstones, or visit the lighthouse and bird refuge at Cape Meares. Cape Meares’ headland offers a panoramic view of the ocean dotted with offshore rocks, some featuring seabird colonies in the summer.
For more information, go to the Oregon State Parks website, go.sentinel.org/2mtEwi4or call 800-452-5687.
To attend Mass: Sacred Heart Church in Tillamook is 17 minutes away.
Silver Falls State Park
Dubbed the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system, the park has boundless recreational opportunities for hikers and campers of all ages. It’s located near the town of Sublimity —less than an hour east of Salem — and your family can explore 10 sublime waterfalls within the park, with cascades ranging from 27-foot Drake Falls to 177-foot South Falls. Older hikers can join you on the 7-mile Trail of Ten Falls. Younger hikers can enjoy a play area that simulates the natural habitats of native wildlife, such as cougars and black bears. There’s a total of 25 miles for hiking, horseback riding and biking. The main campground has tent sites, RV spots and cabins. Or bring your horse and stay in the horse campground.
For more information, go to the Oregon State Parks website, go.sentinel.org/2n6CnFYor call 800-452-5687.
To attend Mass: St. Boniface Church in Sublimity is 17 minutes away.
Trillium Lake Campground
On the shores of the lake for which it’s named, the campground is not far from the quaint town of Government Camp — and a mere 40 miles southeast of Portland. It provides spectacular views of Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest point. The campground is known for its recreational opportunities and for being a family-friendly place to camp. Educational programs are held on weekends throughout the summer. The waters of the glacier-fed lake invite fishing, swimming, padding and picnicking. If you have shorter legs in your crew, there’s an easy 2-mile trail that loops through the campground. If longer hikes are desired, several unimproved roads lead to the edge of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. Be aware of bikers. Just down the road from the campground is Mount Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl, which features 20 attractions including an alpine slide and the chance to go bungee jumping and maneuver a go-kart.
For more information go to the U.S. Forest Service website, go.sentinel.org/2meIBWU or call 503-668-1700.
To attend Mass: St. John Mission Church in Welches is 25 minutes away.
For families with children ages 7 and up (and ready to splurge): Forget the stationary campsite and take a multiday raft trip through Hells Canyon — North America’s deepest gorge — with guides from Winding Waters River Expeditions. Trips begin and finish in the town of Joseph, at the foot of the Wallowa Mountains. Winding Water guides will lead your family down the Snake River through the canyon. You can watch the sun set in the evening and fall asleep to the sound of rushing water. On the water, your children will learn about the cultural and natural history of the landscape. A jet boat or plane ride out of the canyon at the end makes for an unforgettable summer trip. After wringing out post-rafting, parents might enjoy stopping at a brewery in Joseph or perusing one of the city’s antique shops.
For more information on Winding Waters River Expeditions, go to windingwatersrafting.com or call 888-906-3816.
To attend Mass: St. Katherine Church in Enterprise is a 12-minute drive from Joseph.
Umpqua Lighthouse State Park
Less than two hours from Eugene, the park includes a swath of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the Umpqua River Lighthouse and Marie Lake. The campground offers RV and tent campsites, along with two one-room cabins. Rustic and deluxe yurts also are available. This campground is small when compared to other coastal campgrounds, so advance reservations are recommended for any site, but especially for the yurts and cabins. Across the street from the lighthouse, which you can see in action, is a U.S. Coast Guard station with a museum and gift shop. Starting May 1, the museum is open daily for tours, and your children can climb a spiral staircase to the top of the 65-foot lighthouse. The park also includes great crabbing and fishing.
For more information, go to the Oregon State Parks website, go.sentinel.org/2n6Y48M or call 800-452-5687.
To attend Mass: St. John the Apostle Church in Reedsport is seven minutes away.