Oregon's Best State Parks for Families

Nothing bonds the brood like a night (or a weekend) in the great outdoors. (Some “are we there yet?” required.)

By John Shewey and Ketzel Levine August 1, 2013

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Minam State Recreation Area 

Drive time: 5 Hours

From late spring through at least midsummer, rafters can explore the unfettered Wallowa River even if they don’t have Olympic-caliber white-water skills.

The verdant riverside campground at Minam State Park—with adjacent river trails and launch sites—makes the perfect base camp for a family adventure down the Wallowa and then the Grande Ronde, a 38-mile wilderness odyssey.

BEST SITE Across the tiny campground from the river, site 14 sits at the base of the forested hill, commanding a view of the rest of the park.   

VITALS $9; no reservations; pets on leash only; no electrical hookups; drinking water; vault toilets

BOOK THE PROS For guides and gear, hit up nearby Minam Store.

Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation Area 

Drive time: 5 Hours

After a stunning drive south on the Crater Lake Highway, kick back by a sun-dappled lake amid landscaped grounds. Spacious, wooded campsites sit within throwing distance of playgrounds and minutes from a splash in Lost Creek Reservoir. The place does pose a conundrum: Swim, sail, fish for trout, or bike 11 miles of trails? Watch Mill Creek Falls plunge into the Rogue River? Then again, it could be a Crater Lake day, only 50 miles away. 

Best site B20 offers a delicious lake view. 

VITALS $17 tent, $20 hookup; reservations available; pets allowed; electrical hookups; drinking water; flush toilets

Goose Lake State Recreation Area 

Drive time: 7 hours

This little-known campground sits at the base of the lightly trodden Warner Mountains, mere yards from the California line, with an interpretive birding display, a herd of semi-tame deer, and even hot showers. Pack a camp chair and a good book, or maybe a good map to help plan adventurous hikes on Lake County’s barely used mountain trails.

Best site Site 25 occupies a shady corner close to the trails and a short walk down to the lakeshore (or lakebed after the water recedes in summer). 

VITALS Open Apr–Oct; $20; no reservations; pets on leash only; electrical hookups; drinking water; flush toilets and showers

Clyde Holliday State Recreation Site 

Drive time: 6 hours

The John Day Valley is the American West: where rodeos, July Fourth fests, and amazing views reign supreme. One of the east side’s coziest campgrounds makes the perfect hitching post, smartly manicured and shaded against the intense summer sun. The compound includes riparian trails and a small pond that’s host to much bird life. Rentable tepees complete a valleywide panorama that conjures visions of Stetson-clad cowboys.

Fossil Fun John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is just 33 miles away. Arrive early to avoid the desert heat, and plan on spending half a day. 

Best site Expansive site 17 is close to the river, with a spacious backyard shared only by whomever has 15 (the second-best site). 

VITALS Open Mar—Nov; $22 tent, $39 tepee, $5 car-free hiker/biker site; reservations available; pets on leash only; electrical hookups; drinking water; flush toilets; showers

Beverly Beach State Park 

Drive time: 2 Hours

The sweet smell of the sea washes over this retreat. Hidden within a sculpture park of old-growth trees, the campgrounds spread out nicely, with none of the gridlock found at other beach campgrounds. Beverly Beach also sets up visitors for play dates in Newport and along the central coast.

Best site Some of the most whimsical trees surround D19. 

VITALS $21 tent, $26 hookup, $40 yurt; reservations available; pets allowed; electrical hookups; drinking water; flush toilets

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