#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.

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#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.

#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.

#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.


 

#31 Jaycee Park – Railroad St

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Jaycee Park was picked for convenience, and not from the jar. We had grocery shopping to get done, and wanted to do a park somewhat on our way. Jaycee Park is on Railroad Street, which is really just an extension of Centennial Blvd. If that street name makes you scrunch your face, you are in the same group as many locals. Much like Kiwanis Park, I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful friendly park in the middle of what some people consider Bend’s “rougher” neighborhood. It is street parking here, but I get a suspicion that the street is not used often. It began to rain as soon as our son got on the play structure, so we did not get to play long.

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The play structure is relatively genaric with two slides. The design reminds me of the structure and Three Pines Neighborhood Park, but much better. We did not get a change to thoroughly quality test the play structure, but our son seemed to enjoy it. The play ground also has two regular swings. For a neighborhood park, I guess that is okay. There seems to be some seating around the play area, but I wish there was benches placed between the play structure and the road. The play structure sits close enough to road I would suggest keeping a close eye on any bolters.


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Jaycee Park has a very small half-court basketball court. I was also surprised to see the hoop in disrepair. My husband says it doesn’t matter. I guess it was just surprising to find anything in disrepair in a bend park.

There also seems to be a path that leads out of the park. I’m not sure where it goes, and the Bend Park and Rec website does not mention it.

I was slightly bothered there is no real definite boundary between the park and one of the houses. The grass of the park goes right to the home’s driveway. I’m not sure why this bothers me so much, but it really bothers me.


 

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

Size: 3
Condition: 4
Amenities: 3 
Safety: 3.5
Fun: 4

Overall Score: 3.5

Jaycee Park is a perfect adequate neighborhood park. There are very few park benches and picnic tables. This would not be a park to picnic at. The play structure is great. The strange path that seems to lead to oblivion is worrisome, along with the lack of boundary between the park and one of the houses. There is nothing in this park that would draw us back after this tour is over. There is nothing about this park that would stop us from coming if it were within a short walking distance.


 

 

#28 Sylvan Park – Three Sisters Drive

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Sylvan was our last stop on a three park tour today. We were surprised to find an off-street parking lot for this park, but with only a few non-handicap parking spots they were full. The Street parking is plentiful. We decided not to let our son out of the car because the park was packed and the play area was being used for soccer practice.

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The play area was very unimpressive in general. As we were driving through the affluent area, we were expecting to find a beautiful and well stocked park. Instead we found one small play structure with a metal slide (can we say ouch in the summer). There is one regular swing and one infant swing. There is not  a lot of seating around the play area.

The park does have a first-come first-serve tennis court, spacious grass area, and some natural landscaping. I do not remember if I saw bathrooms, water fountains, or a doggie station. I’m assuming there is a doggie station somewhere, because this park is on the other end of the walking trail that also starts/ends at Summit Park.

I’ll admit we did not give this park a lot of time, but I would skip it in general.


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

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

Overall Score: 3.5

Summit Park may be adequate as a local park, but it is not worth the drive to find it. The play structure is lacking in imagination and general depth. The metal slide would make any helicopter parents worry on a hot day. Although there is a tennis court, which is not common for parks in the area, Slyvan park seems to be missing some of the most basic necessities like a bathroom and water fountain. Do not come here to picnic unless you want to sit on a blanket, there was very little seating. There is only one regular swing and one infant swing, which could cause issues on busy days. In general, skip this park.


 

#13 – Pageant Park – Drake Road

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Across the footbridge from Drake Park and right next to the Harmon Park baseball diamonds is a little alcove called Pageant Park. It is small, but packed full on old Bend charm.

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This park sports 3 picnic benches and 6 regular benches. This park feels like a lover’s park to me, and would make a perfect place to meet someone for a stroll around downtown. This park lacks quite a lot. There is no play area, no bathroom, and no water fountain. All of these, however, are not that far of a walking distance away. This park is on the other end of Drake Park’s footbridge, which brings a bit of bicycle traffic. If you have little ones, it may be tough to keep them out of the middle of the road.

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There is a substantial grassy area, with river access. Because there is not a fence keeping little ones out of the river, I would recommend keeping an eye out. This would make a beautifully romantic place to have a grassy picnic next to the river. It is also right next to a private residence, which would be tempting for kiddos as well.

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This park is also steeped in history. Check out the informational plaque about the Bend Fourth of July Stampede and Water Pageant (hence the name of the park.)


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: 3.5
Fun: 2

Overall Score: 3

Unfortunately I have to compare these parks apples to apples. This park was obviously not planned for family fun, or to keep kids entertained. Go down the street to Harmon Park. Pageant Park is a wonderful place for romance and meetings. The river access does add to the fun, but also to the headache for parents. There are two handicap parking places, other than that you will have to look to the street. You also have to keep yourselves and family out of the way of other tourists coming from Drake Park. For a family outing, I would skip this park entirely. If it’s a romantic getaway, then absolutely cuddle on these benches. The view is amazing. You can find the Bend Parks and Rec site for this park, here.