#47 First Street Rapids Park – First Street

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First Street Rapids Park is a hidden jewel. Well, for most people. If you are a big fan of the Deschutes River Trail, you have probably ran into this charming property more than once. This park is hidden away downtown. It reminds me a lot of Sawyer Park, with the bridge and the river access.

The features of this park are very minimal. There is a porta-potty near the bridge. I didn’t not see any doggie rest stations. No fountains. No grass. No picnic shelter. First Street Rapids is a one hit wonder, with it’s only appeal is the river access and viewing.

20160604_111707But, what a wonder it is. The river is swift here, the park gets it’s name from the rapids that run through it. Though, on the banks of the river, there are multiple calm spots that have been build with rocks. There are even some great looking grottos, hidden away by tree cover. If you are a sun worshipper, there are big rocks to lay on.

There is no fencing protecting you (or your kids) from the river. So, keep an eye on them. If you are there to swim, please make sure everyone has a life jacket. That rapid looks tamer than it is.

20160604_112306You can access the Deschutes river trail from this park. You can head north towards Sawyer Park, or south towards Pioneer Park. Either path, I hear, is great.

First Street Rapids park is a great hideaway for warm days. The parking situation is pretty horrible, and the amenities are almost non-existent. It is a wonderful place to enjoy the natural landscape of the area.


Ratings: 
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)

Size: 4
Condition: 3
Amenities: 2
Safety: 3
Fun: 5

Overall Score: 3.4

First Street Rapid’s Park is a great river play oasis for a hot day. The natural landscape could make you forget you are in downtown bend, if you ignored all the large homes. The amenities are almost non-existent. As always, be careful with your family around the river.

#46 Miller’s Landing Park – Riverside Blvd

#46 Miller’s Landing Park – Riverside Blvd

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What we hoped would only take one summer is on it’s 3rd! We have saved up the riverfront parks. We started this project when the City of Bend decided to do some major overhauling of the property along the Deschutes river. I thought this summer would be the summer we finally concluded it all.

Plus, let’s be honest, river parks are much nicer when it’s warm out.

Unfortunately, when we went to go check out McKay Park, it was closed as part of the construction for the Colorado Dam Safe Passage.

20160604_104651We did get a chance to check out what is on the other side of the river, Miller’s Landing Park. This lot actually comes with some personal significance. My grandmother owned a house very close to the lot. When I was growing up, it was just an empty lot. I played a lot in it. I would launch inter tubes from there. I’ll even let you in on a secret, I even kissed a boy for the first time in the secret hideout that was created by a collection of large bushes. So, to see this lot transformed into a beautiful park was both amazing and heartbreaking.

The park has very limited water access. We really didn’t find any. There were breaks in the fence to the river. But, I wouldn’t really call it river access. I was slightly disappointed that there was no beach for my family to play on. If there was one expectation I had for this playground, it was river fun.

I am also surprised at the lack of picnic tables. For such a large space, there is very little seating.

20160604_104439There is a full bathroom. It is refreshing to see a park without a porta-potty. The park also has a decent sized picnic shelter when you can reserve for functions. There also seems to be a community garden as well.

Miller’s Landing Park was very beautiful. As with the large majority of parks within the Bend Parks and Recreation district, it is well manicured and cared for However, there seemed to be little for my family to do. It is a beautiful use of an empty lot. But, it feels a bit like a cubic zirconium. It’s lacking substance.


Ratings: 
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)

Size: 4
Condition: 5 
Amenities: 3
Safety: 3
Fun: 2

Overall Score: 3.4

Miller’s Landing Park is a beautiful patch of grass with a community garden. It has no playground and no visible river access. There are breaks in the fence, so be careful if your with kids that might be really drawn to the water. There is a picnic pavilion for parties, and the parking situation is decent. There are actual bathrooms. You will also find a community garden. Miller’s Landing isn’t a bad park, but I wouldn’t call it a fun one.

#45 – Pine Nursery Park

#45 – Pine Nursery Park

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Pine Nursery Park opened in the last few years (I think.) I only discovered in last year. We put off doing this park in the tour last year because it did not have any play structures. Gleefully, we discovered earlier this summer that they were finally completing that section of the park. We have been anxiously waiting for the playground to open. I believe the play area just opened in the last couple days.

20150909_181009_005The play area is spacious, and unique. There are swings, including a special needs swing. The slides are not typical, but the use of different climbing methods to get up to them make them fun! There is a large cargo net play structure, which I don’t remember seeing in any other park. There are also some spinning structures. (Fair warning, we went to this park right after dinner and did not even think about the effect of excessive spinning right after food. I don’t hold it against the park. I just hope some other family can learn from our silly, and frankly smelly, mistake.)

 

20150909_181051On the right side of the play area are a couple structures for smaller kids. These are also  rather unique. There is a piano and drum panel, which make music when used. The piano panel also gives you some sheet music to play a delightful children’s tune (I won’t ruin it for you.) We did not fully explore this structure, but I believe there are panels representing many different musical instruments. There is also a little kid bridge next to the music structures.

 

 

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I think my favorite feature of this park is the large map of the world, with the hoop in the center. I can see plenty of inventive ways to use this for fun and learning. In general, this park would be perfect for a learning adventure. With the fishing pond, nature trails, and the inventive park there are multitudes of learning opportunities. (Maybe this is nit-picky, especially since it would have required a lot of detailed work, but I wish the Eastern European countries were more defined. It’s probably just me, though.)

Pine Nursery park is a busy park during the sports seasons, since it boasts a sports complex of 4 softball fields, 4 soccer fields, 8 pickleball courts, and a disc golf course. During the particular sports seasons, keep in mind that the parking lot (and play area) may be busy. We had a tough time finding a parking spot near the play area.

This park is also great for exercise with 14 acres of off-leash area for dogs (including a splash pad), and a 1.9 mile paved bike/pedestrian loop. This is one of my favorite parks to walk with friends.

As usual, you will also find a full bathroom, large picnic structure, dog stations, and trash receptacles. This park really has something for everyone! It’s certainly worth checking out. The Bend Parks and Rec team with the Oregon State Parks to manage and maintain this facility. You can really see the time and care both organizations put it. In general, well done!

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Ratings: 
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)

Size: 5
Condition: 5 
Amenities: 5
Safety: 4.9
Fun: 5

Overall Score: 4.9999

Pine Nursery Park has something for everyone. Listing every amenity would take forever. There are multiple types of sports fields, and off leash dog park, restrooms, picnic shelters, and a great walking/biking path. The play area is brand new (as of 2015) and is inventive and unique. The only really nit-picky thing I have to say is there is no fencing around the play area. Although the play is not right next to an access road, if a child were to take off they could run fast and far. I was to especially say that I appreciate the special needs swing in this park. I highly recommend this park for homeschooling families, and for school field trips. There are many different learning opportunities!

 

#44 – Sawyer Park

#44 – Sawyer Park

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It was a warm day, and a warm day calls for cooling off in the river. With so many of the parks on the river closed due to the river construction, it is hard to find a nice spot. When we arrived at Sawyer Park at 4pm, the park was already pretty busy. Anyone would keep in mind that the parking for this park can get dicey, when busy.

When you first arrived, you find some picnic tables, a porta-potty, and plenty of grass. There is also a rock wall with plenty of rocks for climbing on, on the right.

20150719_174628We crossed the bridge and turned right. Left of the bridge is for fishing and “nature observing” only. I have walked to the left, and it is just as beautiful as the rest of the park.

The right has multiple paths that lead you to spots  that are perfect for picnicking and frolicking in the river. All the close spots were taken when we arrived. We had to walk for quite a few minutes before we finally found something. We were a little farther from the car that we would have liked, it was a great little, out of the way, spot. There were rocks that created a tiny, protected, pool.

One our way back, we stopped by one of the more popular “pools” in the park. Someone has created the perfect “kiddy” pool next to some swift rapids. It was taken by a family when we had arrived. I was happy to find it empty when we were walking back. When we got to check it out, near almost 6pm, the shade was covering the whole area. It was the perfect depth for young kids to enjoy the water in a 20150719_173134safer pool.

In general, speaking as a lifelong Bendite, you must be careful when playing in the Deschutes. If you are going to let your kids swim into the center of the river, you will need to bring life jackets. And, on behalf of all, pleasure pack out what you bring with you.

I have walked the trails around Sawyer Park in the past. It’s beautiful to walk next to the river. I thoroughly enjoy walking this section of the Deschutes River trail. For the most part, it is an easy trail. there are some uphills, but nothing that should stop anyone looking for a beautiful nature walk.

Sawyer Park is lacking in many of the amenities you come to expect from the local parks. There is only one porta-potty. There is a water fountain nearby, before you cross the bridge. There is no playground, dog facilities, or large parking area. It is truly a “one trick pony.” Though, the trick of nature is an amazing trick.


Ratings: 
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)

Size: 5
Condition: 4  
Amenities: 3
Safety: 3
Fun: 4

Overall Score: 3.8

Shevlin Park is what I could call a “specialty park.” It is a river wonderland, with plenty of shoreline nooks to enjoy the river in. You also find access to the northern section of the Deschutes River Trail. You have to be careful when playing the river, even when using some of the man-made pools on the edge. Though, the river gives hours of the play, this park could be boring for anyone who doesn’t enjoy nature.

#43 Shevlin Park – Shevlin Park Road

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It is hard to experience Shevlin Park in one day. When my little family of three went on a sunny afternoon in early March, we barely skimmed the surface. I’m going to try my best to include pictures and experiences from other visits to this gem in the crown of Bend Parks and Rec.

The parking for Shevlin park is extensive, but still does not do the traffic justice on an really busy day in the summer. Very quickly you come across the main restrooms and the picnic pavilion (which can be reserved through BPRD.) From there you have a few different path options. I would suggest picking up, or downloading, a Shevlin Park Trails Map before venturing about. I don’t think you can really get lost, the trails are well groomed, but it never hurts to know where your going.

Tumalo Creek rambled through this park, making you feel way farther from civilization than you are. Most of the trails stay close to this river and you ramble through this 44 acre oasis. This creek is the only real safety concern I have about this park. If your child cannot resist themselves around water, you may need to be extra vigilant, because water is everywhere. Some part of this creek are very swift as well, but I would certainly be careful if you are going to swim.

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One of my favorite sites in Shevlin Park is the covered bridge. Inside there are plenty of carving left behinds my couples in love.

You can find different little sites along the trail with picnic tables. The one we found came with a very calm spot in the water. On a busy day, it may be hard to find a secluded spot. On a “off season” kind of day it can feel like wilderness.

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On the other side of the road you can find Aspen Hall, a popular wedding. (I might be biased, it was our wedding venue.) Next to Aspen Hall you find the small pond which is open for under age fishing enthusiasts so they can learn their trade.

If you follow the trails past Aspen Hall you can come across a gravel river bank that seems like it was build for picnicking and swimming on a summer day. I’m not sure if it gets busy here or not, but I would be prepared to pack in everything you would need for a great afternoon.

In general, it is hard to do Shevlin Park justice. I imagine for some children, this park is incredibly boring. If your family enjoys walking/hiking and fishing than this gem will blow you away. If it’s not your families thing, then it will seem somewhat boring.


 

 

Ratings: 
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)

Size: 5+
Condition: 5
Amenities: 4
Safety: 4.5
Fun: 3

Overall Score: 4.5

Shevlin Park is what I could call a “specialty park.” For walking/hiking and natural exploring, it does not get any better than Shevlin Park in the BPRD portfolio. The trails are well groomed, the views are amazing, and the park has everything you need. If your family needs more stimulus, and cannot entertain itself on nature alone, this park is an absolute dud. Shevlin Park is something you will either absolutely love or absolutely hate. It’s hard to rate that on a scale. Watch your children around the creek.


 

#42 Sunset View Park – Stannium Rd

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Sunset View Park was not the kind of park I was expecting. I didn’t check out the park description on the Bend Parks and Rec website before going on the adventure. I did know that I seemed to drive past part of it on my way to Shevlin Park, and that I had seen it once or twice.

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The part of the park which is accessed at the end of Stannium Road is all natural landscape. It is a fitness park, with multiple stations with equipment for difference exercises.

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There is a pile of sticks and logs around the base of one tree. My husband and I are both somewhat curious how this happened and if it has a purpose.

There seems to be a trail that leads to the other part of the park, the part that includes a portion of the West Bend Trail. We chose to drive there. I was hoping to find the park sign, as most BPRD parks have a special sign in each of them. We did find multiple trail heads, but not real parking to speak of. Long story short, we were really unable to explore that part of the park at all.

I can only speak for the Fitness Park porting of Sunset View Park. It had two picnic tables and a doggie station, which makes it nice for a fitness themed lunch. I’m a little shocked that there is not a water fountain here or seasonal bathroom.

Safety wise, I can’t see anything overly concerning about this park. The ladder station would make me a bit nervous, but it is no higher than most play structures get. I wouldn’t suggest sending children to this park unmonitored, but I can’t see a reason why you couldn’t enjoy reading a book while your children ran around. Other than how quickly they would get bored, anyway.


 

Ratings: 
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)

Size: 3
Condition: 5
Amenities: 2
Safety: 4.5
Fun: 3

Overall Score: 3.5

This score is really only reflective of the Fitness Park side of Sunset View Park. We were unable to find safe and adequate parking to explore the other side. As a fitness park, I could see the stations giving a relatively well rounded work out. It would also probably bore some kids quickly, unless they really love playing with natural landscape. There are a couple picnic tables and a doggie station, but without a restroom or other facilities it would be hard to want to make a long outing out of this park.


 

#41 Hillside II Park – Saginaw Ave.

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Hillside (II) Park is on the corner of 12th Street and Saginaw Ave., across the road from Hillside (I) Park. The parking is street parking, and probably bothers the neighbors when the park is busy.

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The Park is much like I expected after reading the description on the Bend Parks and Rec website. I was sad to see that there were no picnic tables, which was the only amenity the website listed. There are no bathrooms, doggie stations, play structures or garbage cans. If you plan on doing anything in this park, be prepared to bring all your own equipment, and pack everything out when you leave. If you get in a bind, you can take the walk to Hillside I park for facilities.

Because the park is so close to the road, my husband and I debated the safety rating. If you have a wandering child I could keep a close eye on them. The traffic is not heavy, but it still worries the helicopter parent in me.

What this park does have going for it is the immaculately manicured grounds. There are plenty of trees for shade, and also plenty of sunny areas. When we arrived there was only one couple enjoying themselves in the sun. I get the feeling this may not be a very popular park, which makes it a great spot for a romantic picnic.


 

Ratings: 
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)

Size: 3
Condition: 5
Amenities: 1
Safety: 4
Fun: 1

Overall Score: 2.8

Hillside II park offers nothing unique, though it is another beautiful romantic vista. Without any play structure, it may be hard to entertain children without bringing in your own equipment. There is no equipment in this park at all.