Category Archives: park improvements

Champoeg Nature Play Area opens this spring

It looks like a castle moat now, but the Nature Play Area will include a simulated dry creek bed when it’s finished. A generous donation by a friend of the park to the Friends of Historic Champoeg made the entire project possible. Learning Landscapes designed the Nature Play Area.

March weather hasn’t stopped work on a new nature play area at the Champoeg State Heritage Area campground between the A and B loops. Although the site is wet and muddy, Richard Cassidy of the Friends of Historic Champoeg said the area’s centerpiece is in place.

Workers have created a mound 6 feet high and 70 feet in diameter in the Upper Prairie Play area that will soon be a natural jungle gym. A boulder climbing area complete with a fox den sits on one side. Plans also include a curved double slide, 30-foot-long log scramble and squirrel climbing net, as well as an osprey nest lookout for the rest of the mound, according to Cassidy.

A weaving fence and arch will mark the entrance to the play area. The lower part of the fence will have permanent willow branches woven among posts and kids can take branches from a pile to continue building. The Creekside Play area includes a series of three logs carved into sluiceways and placed as a series of waterfalls. The highest sluice will have a hand-operated water pump for kids to push and then play in the moving water. This area will also have a canoe, beaver lodge made from willows and basalt mashers. The mashers are bowl-shaped with large, wooden pestles. One idea is to place hazelnut shells into the bowls for kids to smash.

Learning Landscapes designed the Nature Play Area.

The play area will open April or May depending on how weather affects construction. Watch here for grand opening information.

Preparing for bee stings — and earthquakes and tsunamis (2015)

Why didn’t we bring the first-aid kit? The hike was only a 4-mile round trip on a well-maintained trail. What could go wrong? Well, a yellow jacket nest encounter would be exciting.

That happened, but the result was only two stings among the three of us and no adverse reactions. Although we knew to prepare, we didn’t put it into practice.

Practice preparedness – earthquakes and tsunamis

Beverly-BeachThe New Yorker magazine ran an article this past July that brought a lot of attention to The Really Big One – a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake followed by a tsunami. That story made it real to many, and several campers and visitors asked us for our coastal campground tsunami routes. They took steps to prepare.

The good news is that every state park coastal campground within a predicted tsunami zone has an evacuation route posted with signs in the park. Each coastal brochure also includes a campground map that shows the designated tsunami evacuation route.

Make it a practice to look for the evacuation route signs after you’ve arrived at the park. You can also find the coastal campground brochures at Take the time to look at the map before you head out. The maps are also available at the park.

What else can you do?

Search for resources to help you prepare. The Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse has an evacuation zone map viewer, as well as links for specific information for coast visitors, residents, boaters, and kids and teachers. The clearinghouse motto sums it up: We cannot prevent a tsunami but we can prepare for one.

The Great Oregon ShakeOut website has tips for preparing for the earthquake that precedes the tsunami. The “Get Prepared” section includes tips for hazard hunts, disaster-preparedness plans, emergency supply kits and more. Take a look at the Earthquake Preparedness page on the American Red Cross website.

Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On during the Great Oregon ShakeOut, Oct. 15 at 10:15 a.m. Learn more about the drill and register at the Great Oregon ShakeOut.

Wolf Creek Inn temporarily closed (2015)

Grounds surrounding building remain open

Wolf Creek Inn

The historic Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site will be closed for construction during the 2015 season. The project, to install a climate control system designed to protect the historic integrity of the late 1800s building, will coincide with the search for a new concessionaire to operate the Inn.

You can still stop and explore the area during the building closure. Picnic tables, a portable restroom, electric vehicle charging station, and rose garden are available at the park, located in the town of Wolf Creek at Exit 76 on Interstate 5, 20 miles north of Grants Pass. The nearby Golden State Heritage Site is also open.

The climate control system will allow better management of temperature and humidity in the Inn, believed to have been built between 1873 and 1880 as one of many similar way stations serving travelers and explorers on the early roads and trails in western Oregon. The estimated cost of the project is $400,000, funded by the share of Oregon Lottery profits dedicated to state park repairs, and includes accessibility improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Plans for the future Wolf Creek Inn concessionaire contract are under way. A “Request for Proposals” may be issued in the fall/winter of 2015, which could lead to a contract with a new concessionaire for the 2016 season.

People interested in receiving notice when the re-opening date is set can send their contact information to