I grew up at Columbia Park as a kid. My Grandmother’s house was across the pedestrian bridge, on the river. You can see her old back yard from the bridge. When we arrived as I very excited to see the SS Columbia and other changes that have been made. I was also saddened by some things that are gone that made my childhood amazing.
Columbia Park is dominated by the SS Columbia, a pirate ship play ground structure. The ship comes with three different slides, multiple ways to get in and our, and a “plank”. It seems like every kid enjoys this pirate ship, and has been the first thing I’ve been asked about since I started this tour. Every one wants to know if I’ve been to see the pirate ship yet. I will say, this is my favorite play structure by far!
The play ground also had one regular swing and one infant swing. Normally this would bother me, but I have a feeling no one come to the park to swing.
This park also boats are large slide. This seems to be a huge hit with older kids. I would suggest staying close by. This slide also seems to be a flash point for kid fights. The slide is so long, some kids don’t realize that there are little kids at the bottom and they kinda get ran over.
Although the Bend Park and Rec Website does not mention river access, there does seem to be this small but well manicured “ramp” into the river. I would not think this would be a popular place to come in our out of the river. This area is not fenced. The majority of the river bank of this park is not fenced, except a rail fence which really wouldn’t keep any kid away. There is also a park of this fence that is supposed to be a chain link fence, but it has fell down. If you child is overly attracted to water, or wanders, I would keep a very close eye on them, especially on the lower level of the park.
There was also a gardner snack near the pedestrian bridge. This could either make the park cooler or scarier, depending on your opinions of snakes. Because of it’s proximity to the river, I’m sure this park gets plenty of wildlife from the Deschutes.
Back on the upper level, there is a grassy knoll that has a horeshoe pit and more seating. The park as a lot of grassy area in general, and would make a great place for a game of flag football.
There is a small covered picnic shelter that could support 15+ people comfortably. I would imagine it is a mecca for birthday weekends and probably always has a birthday party going on.
The rest of the park has adequate seating, though we did not use much of it. This park as a lot of reason to stay on your feet and near your child. It could make for a nice picnic park.
In general, I’m not surprised they blocked the path to the big rocks by the river. You can still see it by the pedestrian bridge. I spent a lot of my childhood on top of the rocks, trying to figure out my troubles. I almost went splunking up there, but I decided I should was until there are less impressionable mimics around. It could be dangerous up there for those who aren’t sure footed.
The Pedestrian Bridge is not part of the park, but it would be a good reminder to not let your children jump off it. They will see a few adults do it if you go on a hot day, so it will be rather tempting. The Deschutes River is not as deep as many adults like to think it is. Growing up next to the bridge, I saw many people hit their heads, break their backs, so on and so on. There is a secret to jumping off this bridge, but I won’t share it. It’s a “locals only” thing that I really can’t share. The moral of the story, is don’t jump off the bridge.
(A scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is the least desirable and 5 is the most desirable)
Overall Score: 4
Columbia Park makes a great effort to be a 5 star park. It has plenty of grassy area. It does have the regular amenities, including porta-potties. The SS Columbia is, at this point in the tour, our favorite playground structure. The large slide is also a favorite. Do be very careful near the river, since the fencing is not in good shape and there is river access, despite what the Bend Park and Rec website says. There is somewhat adequate seating. The 15+ person picnic shelter would be a good place for a small birthday party. This is not a park I recommend letting your kids run free, unless they are definitely old enough to make good decisions about water.