Exploring the Pacific Northwest with Kids

Exploring the Pacific Northwest with kids was high on our list when we left on our roadtrip.  In early May, we finally stepped foot in Oregon just after visiting the Redwoods.  We were fighting rain, cold, and windy conditions in Northern California and were looking forward to getting off the coast.

Here are the top three areas we explored in the Pacific Northwest with kids:

Crater Lake National Park

Our middle daughter was most excited about seeing the deepest lake in America so we made this stop a priority.  Living on the road for so long, we usually only plan one or two days ahead.  We looked at the weather and realized a huge snowstorm was coming in the day we were planning on visiting Crater Lake so we dropped off the camper at the campground and raced up to the park before the visitors center closed.

The view was breathtaking!  The girls were able to look around Discovery Point but the trail was closed.  The visit to Crater Lake was less than an hour as the roads were closed just past this overlook.  We picked up a few souvenirs, took pictures, and headed back to the campground to set up.

I am glad we took the time to stop here even though the visit was much shorter than we expected.  We were hoping to hike, boat out to the island, and drive the rim so there were a few disappointments when traveling to national parks in the early spring.


We stayed just one night near Crater Lake and headed to Bend two days early to chase the sun and have a RV tech come fix the camper slide out.  Bend proved to be a great place to relax, recharge, and reset.  There were many unexpected surprises that helped fill us up.

The Newberry Lava Butte, Lava Tube Cave, and Lava Cast Forest were a highlight.  This was the first volcanic area we explored and saw many unusual natural features.  I would highly recommend spending a day here if you are in the Pacific Northwest with kids.

Smith Rock State Park was another gorgeous area that was not even on our list of must do hikes.  Another hiker recommended this area and so we decided to check it out.  We hiked Misery Ridge which was a strenuous climb up hill but the views were worth it.  On the way back down, we saw Monkey Rock just as the snow started to fall.  This area holds our family’s favorite hike in Oregon now and also offers great opportunities for Stealth Camping if you’re into that.  It is so great to talk with other campers and hikers to find out the best places to see.

Oregon Coast

After seeing advertising boards about Finders Keepers in Lincoln City the girls were excited about heading to the coast.  Finders Keepers is a program where Lincoln City hides glass orbs or “floats” daily on their beaches for people to find and keep.  For three days in a row, the girls and I combed the beaches trying to find these floats.  We definitely saw more of the coastal beaches this way even though our hunting never turned up a float.

We drove down to Newport one day to hike around Devil’s Punchbowl, explore Hatfield Marine Science Center, and eat delicious seafood at Clearwater restaurant while watching the seals sleep.  The Hatfield Marine Science Center was a well done center that we could enjoy while staying out of the rain.

Our final day on the Oregon Coast was in Astoria.  We enjoyed visiting  Fort Clatsop which was the winter encampment for Lewis and Clark’s expedition.  It was a rebuilt fort and small museum which took less than 2 hours to explore.  Then we walked up the Astoria Column before visiting the Columbia River Maritime Museum  at the end of the day.

Final Thoughts on the Pacific Northwest with Kids

Our family enjoyed walking the beach and exploring the rocky coast.  The state parks were a huge hit as the hikes offered great views of creation without the crowds.  We learned to always keep a raincoat with us and to plan hikes no matter the weather.  This time of the year made some of the activities we were hoping for hard to do or impossible due to snow closures.  It was worth the stop but we didn’t need as much time as we thought we did in these areas.



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Explore Camping Life is a place where our family of 5 shares our travel adventures. We camp all over America, hike through National Parks, and eat delicious food prepared at our campsite.