We just got from a wonderful weeklong camping adventure to Eastern Oregon. We stayed at the Thousand Trails Bend/ La Pine campground. Since Darren (hubby) is working full time while we travel this year, we have created a system where he wakes up super early to start work, then we hang out at camp for half then day, followed by our daily ADVENTURE. We like to plan on excursion each day for our family when we are in a new area. There are always so many things to see, BUT we have found can be hard to find things that fit what we are looking for. We enjoy adventures that are off the beaten path and something that allows us to enjoy God’s creation.
Since we know that it can be hard to find things that meet our criteria, we wanted to share what we have found, and the pros and cons of each adventure below. There will be a write up and a vlog for you to see our adventure to see if it is something that would be fitting for your family. We LOVE exploring and adventuring with our family, it is such a blessing to us and we pray this is a blessing to you as well.
First Up: We want to show you the Thousand Trails Campground Bend/La Pine
This is actually the VERY FIRST Thousand Trails campground we ever visited. In fact, we stayed here prior to ever having a membership. We have now had our membership for a year and have stayed here MANY times. It is one of our favorites, because of the beautiful location and large camping site. They do have a pool that has been “under construction” now for over 2 years and looks like NO progress has been made BUT they did switch management and we can visibly see other improvements being made like the Wi-Fi, and fire rings. Overall we would HIGHLY recommend this campground and the locational access to MANY fun things to do in the Bend/ La Pine area. (Which you will be able to see throughout the blog.)
DAY ONE ADVENTURE: Cowboy Dinner Tree
The first day was our driving day, we left right after church in Troutdale, Oregon and headed to the Thousand Trails to drop off our trailer before heading out on an adventure our family was REALLY looking forward to. The drive over the mountain and to La Pine with towing our trailer always takes longer then we think, this time it took us 3 and a half hours. We dropped the trailer (didn’t even set up anything) and headed off to the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Let me tell you this dinner is more than a restaurant it is an experience, (which you can totally see in the video below). Here is their website site: HERE! They have been featured many times for their unique take on dinner. The sheer amount of food you get is crazy, and kids 6 and younger eat for free which really worked in our favor being a BIG family. When we went the adult meals were $45.00 and kids 7-11 are $11.00, which may sound like a lot if you are like me and work hard to be on a budget BUT we have been known to spend MORE money eating out a Chinese then here simply due to their prices for the younger kids. So encouragement to do the math and factor in the experience of it all. We called a week in advance to make our reservation and the time we wanted was booked so we got a bit later time. (which actually worked out GREAT) So you will want to make sure to get your reservation in early! They have limited times, days and numbers they serve so PLAN AHEAD. Also arrive early and enjoy the shop, playing horse shoe and walking around.
DAY TWO ADVENTURE: Hiking Falls River Trail
On our first full day of camping, we took the morning to set up camp while Darren worked and then after lunch we headed out to check out our first hike. While researching hikes and things to do that are family friendly in the area I found this trail that people we saying was flat, peaceful and a walk along side a river. They were right! This was a wonderful hike where there were old growth forest to see, a beautiful river in frequent view, and for the most part pretty flat. They trails doesn’t really have a destination. You arrive a the Ranger Station, if you walk the full 2 miles in and 2 miles back. For our family 4 miles will our littles is pretty much the top of our walking range at the moment. So doing this the first day worked out but the kids were TIRED after. Something to note is there are many starting locations for the trail if you wanted to do it a bit shorter, you will still see the beauty and enjoy the trail.
DAY THREE ADVENTURE: Lava Lands and Benham Falls
We have actually visited these two locations before on our trips out here before, however Lava Lands is so unique and something fun to see we decided to adventure there again. If you go in off season as we did, it is low traffic which is nice BUT the information center is closed which is a bummer (bathrooms and education information are inside.) However we always enjoy walking around to see the lava flow and reading the educational signs along the way. There is a path from the Lava Lands down to Benham falls which we rode bikes on last year. Well, we sort of rode bikes, we coasted downhill the whole way and realized our kids would never be able to make it back so Darren rode his bike back uphill to grab the van (but again that was last year, so this year we drove from one to the other.) Only a few miles down the road is Benham falls. which is also a BEAUTIFUL flat walk along side the Deschutes River. You can also see the Lava Lands rock flow from the hike so that is fun to make that connection. It is a short and lovely hike to the first viewpoint, and many animals to see along the way.
DAY FOUR ADVENTURE: La Pine State Park
This was our first time checking out La Pine State Park. There was two main things we wanted to see while in the Park. First they have the largest and oldest Ponderosa Tree. When you enter the park it will have signs to the BIG TREE. This is a paved path, a really short distance away from the parking lot to see the Tree, then a small distance away there is a beautiful river, simple and beautiful. Then we got in our van to drive over to see the falls. This walk was so peaceful and a small grass field at the waterfall destination that we were able to sit and enjoy the beauty around us. The only people we saw was a couple at the tree other than that it was just us which was lovely.
DAY FIVE ADVENTURE: High Desert Muesum
Just south of Bend is a wonderful High Desert Muesum, which we were surprised on the size of it. As with museums to keep running there is a charge to get in, and with this one it was going to personally cost our family $100 dollars for the day, and this was not including Darren’s parents whom were traveling with us. So I went online to their membership website site HERE we learned that you could get a family membership for $105 dollars which is a year long membership and would get you 2 additional adult tickets for free. So we were able to get Darren’s parents in for free and we can visit again when we return to the area for deer hunting. Overall we REALLY enjoyed the museum, there was one exhibit that was not our favorite it was very new age, and had some blasphemes statements but we used it as an opportunity to teach apologetics to our kids through our biblical worldview. Overall we would return again, and next visit I would like to see some of their presentations as well as in the summer months they have many camps and activities for the kids.
DAY SIX ADVENTURE: Fort Rock
This was a adventure that was furthest from the campground, it took us about an hour to drive to Fort Rock. It literally looks like a huge fort made of rock in the middle of nowhere, sounds funny but pretty cool (check out the video to see). We went in late April and the weather was fabulous, I could totally see if you were there in the heat of the summer it could be a scorcher. There are bathrooms and great parking. Also in the little town you drive through there is an museum for old time living but it was closed for the season when we went. We did the hike inside the Fort Rock and there is tons of trails all over for you to walk the inside of the loop. Some of the trails are harder then others but you can see where you are headed to know and plan accordingly. Super fun excursion we are really glad we did it.
DAY SEVEN ADVENTURE: Cow Meadow
This a difference adventure then others, it requires a quick back story: last fall my husband went hunting for elk out in Eastern Oregon, and one of his spots he tried was Cow Meadow. It is a beautiful location with a meadow and a view of the lake (reservoir). So Darren wanted to show us and that is what we did for a hike that day. It was the only rainy day of the week which meant it rained on our hike but it was still beautiful and fun to see. Also when Darren went hunting last year he saw ZERO elk, but when we were hiking we saw 15 of them! (ironic). Later that day, we took another hike that Darren hunted on in search of Sugar pine Trees and specifically sugar pine cones. We did find some! It was great fun but that hike was straight up hill where the Cow Meadow was flat.
DAY 7 we had no adventure it was Sunday and our day to pack up and head out, we needed to leave early and get back home because my side of the family was taking family pictures and showering was a must before those. Overall it was a wonderful week of family time and adventuring! We are excited to do our next camping adventure coming up in the end of May. That trip will be 2 weeks longs and we are excited to show you all that we get to do and see. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and Follow us on Instagram so you don’t miss anything. (We do share different content on each of the medias so can’t wait to see you there!
Until Next time!