Adventure sports offered in three Oregon State Parks — for now


Bungee jumping at Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint

Thrill seekers drop 250 feet from the High Bridge at Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint into the Crooked River Gorge.

When you think of activities in Oregon State Parks, you probably come up with camping, hiking and fishing and maybe mountain biking, disc golfing and even rock climbing.  Now, we’re offering a few new adventures.

During a trial period that runs through next summer, you can try bungee jumping, parasailing and jet boat touring operated by private companies.

“Camping, picnicking, and trails will always be the bedrock of Oregon’s state parks, but sometimes you need to try new ideas where they make sense,” said Chris Havel, department spokesperson. “We want to know if you enjoy the opportunities, or if you feel like it’s too much of a change.”

Havel says the pilots will last a year or slightly longer, and park managers will look at how well the operation fits the park, watch for impacts on the park, and how it affects other visitors. The activities can be terminated early if necessary.

What do you think? We’re accepting comments about adventure sports in Oregon State Parks via e-mail. Send your thoughts to oprd.publiccomment@oregon.gov.  Be sure to clearly describe what you’re commenting on.

Removing trash from the Crooked River Gorge

In addition to giving Oregon State Parks a portion of revenue, Central Oregon Bungee Adventures volunteered to remove trash from the bottom of the Crooked River Gorge; a dilapidated couch in this case.

Aug. 14 Star Party set for Bates State Park in eastern Oregon


New moon and Perseids meteor shower pair for perfect night sky watching

Eastern Oregon night sky

Dark skies in eastern Oregon are perfect for stargazing. This photo was taken at Wallowa Lake State Park in July.

The night sky over Bates State Park east of John Day will set the scene for a Star Party Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Join local amateur astronomers and volunteers with telescopes to view summer constellations, star clusters and planets.

“We are fortunate in rural eastern Oregon to have incredible dark night skies, with little to no light pollution,” said Park Manager Dennis Bradley. “Add a new moon and the Perseids meteor shower to the mix, and we have the perfect formula for an unforgettable evening.”

The Perseids meteor shower produces up to 60 bright meteors per hour from mid-July through late August, peaking this year Aug. 12-13. The night sky will be darker than usual on Aug. 14 because the new moon will not be visible and thus no moonlight.

The evening includes an old-fashioned campfire and storytelling from folks who lived in Bates when it was still a thriving logging town. You and your family can gather around the campfire for singing, roasting marshmallows and munching on s’mores provided by the park. The event and day-use parking are free.

Saturday morning take a tour of nearby Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area and the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site museum in John Day. Both the dredge and museum are free.

Bates State Park (park information and driving directions) has 28 primitive sites available first-come, first-served. Pitch your tent or sleep under the stars. Bates State Park is 30 miles northeast of John Day located on Middle Fork Lane off Highway 7, one mile north of its intersection with U.S. 26 at Austin Junction.

Celebrate rock festival history at Milo McIver Aug. 8


Exploring Vortex 1-- Aug. 8, 2015

Rock and roll band Steelhead headlines the 45th anniversary celebration of the original Vortex rock concert held August 1970 at Milo McIver State Park. Exploring Vortex I: Music in the Park is set for Aug. 8, 3-8 p.m. in  the Vortex Meadows.

Bring the family for face painting, hula hooping, tie dying and bubble blowing. The celebration also includes a photo display and movie theater, storytelling, and photo and comic vendors. Local author Matt Love will welcome the crowd and lead a guided walking tour. If you’re hungry, Lew’s BBQ will be on-site.

Reminder — Although drinking alcoholic beverages is allowed in the park, using marijuana isn’t. The statute says recreational marijuana is prohibited in parks. See whatslegaloregon.com for more information.

Were you at Vortex 1? Bring any photos of the 1970 event and have them scanned and added to the Vortex archive. Your photos will be returned on the spot. Volunteers will also record anyone interested in sharing their Vortex stories, which will be shared with the Estacada Community Library.

Vortex I remains the only state-sponsored rock festival in American history, and was a novel concept in 1970, when both Woodstock and the Kent State shootings were forefront in Americans’ minds. Then Governor Tom McCall made history by partnering with antiwar demonstrators to organize a concert at the park to avoid conflict in downtown Portland during a scheduled visit of President Nixon.

This event is open to the public, and donations will be accepted to fund a permanent monument in Vortex Meadow. Day-use parking is $5.

Milo McIver State Park (park information, map and driving directions)

Join guided hikes on the OC&E Woods Line State Trail


Four-hike series this summer and fall

Sunshine on the OC&E State Trail in the Sprague Valley.

Sunshine on the OC&E State Trail in the Sprague Valley.

The OC&E Woods Line State Trail is Oregon’s longest linear park, built on 100-miles of the  Oregon, California and Eastern Railroad railbed. You can join Saturday guided hikes beginning July 25 that explore sites along the trail between Klamath Falls and Bly.

Park rangers and guest speakers will explain how the area’s geology and climate influenced human settlement, and how humans in turn have affected the environment of the Lost River and Sprague River watersheds.

The hikes will last about two hours and will cover some ground off the main trail. The hikes are free, but parking is limited. Please preregister by calling (541) 783-2471 or (541) 883-5558.

  • July 25 – “Finding a Way through Lost River Gap.” Meet at the Olene trailhead at 10 a.m.  Learn how the OC&E, Highway 140 and irrigation canals all pass through the gap at Olene. Distance: 2 miles round trip.
  • Aug. 8 – “Nothing Tougher than a Juniper.” Meet at Rice’s Feed Store in Dairy at 10 a.m. Why is western juniper ideally suited to the Klamath Basin’s semi-arid climate? An optional hike will explore Bureau of Land Management rangeland near the trail. Distance: 3-4 miles.
  • Sept. 19 – “Boom and Bust on the Sprague.” Meet at the Sprague community hall at 10 a.m. Learn about the history of the town’s sawmill and how humans have influenced the Sprague River. Distance: 2 miles round trip.
  • Oct. 3 – “Of Aspens and Maars.” Meet at the Switchbacks trailhead at 10 a.m. Explore how region’s forests are affected by topography and logging. Distance: 2-3 miles.

OC&E Woods Line State Trail (park information and driving directions)

OC&E trail history and map (includes trailhead locations)