Outdoors with Kids in Chehalem Valley: Champoeg Nature Play Area

This summer, I’ve invited others to join me on Friday “hikes” or nature excursions around our small region. Part of this has to do with my church’s current emphasis on getting to know our watershed so that we can better take care of the space around us. We can only love places that we know, and so we’re getting to know our region better. Also, I’ve invited other friends who have expressed interest in these posts about “outdoors with kids in Chehalem Valley.” I definitely want to give kids the opportunity to get outside this summer and explore our region!

Last week, school got out at lunch time, so we left for Champoeg shortly thereafter. It was a great way to kick off the summer. I met my friends in the Oak Grove parking lot and we walked over to the new nature play area. Having thrown out this invitation to everyone at my church, I got to meet new friends, got to know some others better. It was fun to have an excuse to stand around chatting while our kids played.

Our kids LOVED this play area! There is a large sand pit for digging and creating waterways, a water pump that pumps water through the logs you see in the photos (below), and lots of elements to climb on. There are cute little stick huts made from living branches, so eventually they will leaf out and form enclosed, living huts.

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Here are some details:

  • Champoeg costs $5/car for a day pass, so it’s a little expensive in terms of visiting a playground. Instead, you can purchase a 12-month pass for all Oregon State Parks for $30, or a 24-month pass for $50, so if you really like the play area and think you’ll visit more than six times a year, get an annual pass! Then you can go to other state parks for “free,” too.
  • There’s no parking near the nature play area because it’s in the RV camping section of the park, so unless you’re camping there, you’re not supposed to park there. We parked in the Oak Grove parking lot (over by the disc golf course), which gave us a nice half-mile walk over to the play area. The walk is mainly on the paved bike trail (or across parking lots), so you can bring a stroller. My kids brought their scooters, or you could bring bikes. There are also many trails for walking and biking, so you can make a day of it and do more than just visit the play area.
  • Since the nature play area is so new, it’s not yet on the map, so see the map below for the location of play area and the path we took to get there.
  • There’s sand and water, so you’ll want to bring a towel, have your kids wear swim clothes, and/or bring a change of clothes.


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