Five Paths to Family Adventure in Oregon

rogue river rafting

15 Sep Five Paths to Family Adventure in Oregon

rogue river rafting

Rogue River rafting with OARS. © James Kaiser.

On paper, Oregon quickly becomes a land of superlatives. It’s home to the deepest river gorge in North America, the 7,993-foot deep Hell’s Canyon. It’s also where you’ll find the deepest lake in the United States, the 1,943-foot deep Crater Lake. And it’s not just the state’s natural features that set Oregon apart; it’s also home to two of the fifteen most bike-friendly cities in the United States: Portland and Eugene (according to Bicycling magazine).

Yet Oregon is also a land of startling contrasts. Sunrises break over high desert and sunsets slip into the Pacific. Mighty fir trees and ferns blanket one set of mountains while pine trees and lava rocks pepper the next. And within each wildly different region opportunities for the adventurous abound.

Intrigued? Consider these five fantastic ways your family can experience the Oregon outdoors:

  1. Rafting – Southern Oregon’s “Wild and Scenic” Rogue River provides a perfect introduction to whitewater rafting for the beginner, while the Salmon River to the north and Deschutes River in Central Oregon give rise to bigger rapids and thrills for those seeking them.
  2. Hiking – Oregon is a hiker’s paradise with opportunities to trek atop ocean bluffs or along the Pacific Crest Trail, to walk to many hidden waterfalls—or even behind the 177-foot gusher in Silver Falls State Park–and to stroll through Alpine wildflowers on Oregon’s Mt. Hood or even beside an ancient lava flow at Newberry National Monument.
  3. Paddle Boarding (SUP) – While bustling Bend finds SUP enthusiasts of all ages on the river right in the middle of town, the quiet Elk Lake just beyond the Central Oregon city calls families to venture out and paddle in the reflection of Mt. Bachelor.
  4. Cycling – The Willamette Valley’s wine country and wildflower farms offer many scenic backroad routes—including some with covered bridges. But many feel it’s hard to top the ever-changing views along the Crater Lake Rim Drive in Oregon’s famed National Park. And, as you might suspect, in Eugene and Portland even touring towns is a pleasure.
  5. Kayaking – Oregon has no shortage of kayak-friendly rivers and streams, lakes and inlets, all with gorgeous scenery. But for a most unusual outing, try kayaking over a petrified forest submerged in icy waters with a stunning 100- to 200-foot visibility at Clear Lake.

For family-friendly guided trips that bring you the best of Oregon, take a look at these featured tours:

The Crater Lake Family Multi-Sport Tour with Backroads – Includes biking, hiking, rafting and more in Central Oregon.

The Oregon Adventure with Off the Beaten Path – Includes hiking on Mt. Hood and at Cannon Beach, with whitewater rafting on the Salmon River.

Rogue River Rafting with O.A.R.S. – Choose a 3-, 4- or 5-day trip down the designated Wild & Scenic Rogue River on a trip designed with families in mind.

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Shelly Rivoli is the Adventure Collection’s Family Travel columnist. She has traveled with young children by airplane, Metro, ferry, train, elephant and long tail boat. Her revised and expanded guidebook “Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler” received both a Lowell Thomas Award and a North American Travel Journalists Association Award. Shelly founded a decade ago and has blogged there since 2007, receiving many accolades along the way. Recently, she created a second site,, which focuses on travel with school-age children, of which she now has three.
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