Just Kidding: Summer fun with your kids


By Susan Matheny

Parents with young kids who are looking for fun things to do have a wide variety of opportunities this summer in the Madras area.

Plenty of Parks

Kids have three main parks with play structures to choose from in Madras:

Juniper Hills Park has a large play structure.Sahalee Park, located on two city blocks at the corner of C and Seventh streets, features a kid-sized red fire truck with a slide and steering wheel, and a large climbing structure with a rock climbing feature, tube slide and spiral slide. There are also toddler swings for younger tots, and two regular swings.

The park has lots of open lawn for children to run and play in, plus a large covered picnic pavilion for family gatherings and events.

Bean Park, located at B and Revere streets (just uphill from 16th Street), the park has a wooden play structure shaded by large trees, and picnic tables on a grassy area where moms can relax while the kids play. There is also a court with basketball hoops.

Juniper Hills Park is the town’s largest park at the top of the hill on the corner of B Street (also called Ashwood Road) and Bean Drive. In addition to its acres of grass, the park has breathtaking views of Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood, the Madras train trestle, and the town below.

There are two play areas: a large play structure, when you first come in, with a spiral slide and climbing features, and play equipment for younger kids further down the road, near the baseball and softball fields.

The park also has soccer fields, a disk golf course, and a long paved path for jogging, walking, stroller rides or roller skating.

Culver and Metolius

Metolius City Park has a swing set with small horse heads mounted on the swings, so kids can imagine they are riding horses. There is also the Historic Metolius Train Depot to explore, one block west of the highway and Metolius City Hall. Eat a pancake breakfast there once a month. Call Metolius City Hall for the dates at 541-546-5533.

Culver has a large city park directly across from the downtown area, with lots of grass, a picnic pavilion, and play structure with swings and slides.

Fishing Pond

Youngsters and teens can try their hand at reeling in a fish at the Jefferson County Youth Fishing Pond, located just west of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at the corner of Old Culver Highway and Fairgrounds Road.

Over an acre in size, the pond is stocked with steelhead for tasty fishing. It is also located on the city’s bike and walking path route, and the surrounding streamway is being developed into a nature walk.

Fishing is limited to youths age 17 and under, or disabled people with a disabled angler’s permit. Teens ages 14-17 also need to have an Oregon angler’s license, younger kids do not. There is a limit of two fish per day.

Library Fun

The Jefferson County Library, at 241 S.E. Seventh St., has lots of fun programs for toddlers to teens.

Storytime sessions are held three different times weekly:

Tuesday morning, 10:10 a.m., is Babies and Toddlers Storytime, with songs, rhymes, actions and read-aloud storybooks for tots. The Preschool and Older Storytime at 10:30 a.m., features craft activities, songs and storybook readings.

Tuesday evening, at 6:30 p.m., another Preschool and Older Storytime is held so working parents can attend with their children.

A Spanish Storytime is held at 1 p.m., Wednesdays, for Spanish-speaking families.

Summer Reading Program, is held in the library’s Rodriguez Annex next door. The program runs from June 25-July 23, in Madras, Warm Springs and Culver to encourage kids to keep reading throughout the summer. This year’s theme is “Dig Into Reading.”

Kids (or parents of kids too young to read) sign up, then fill out a slip for each book read, (or that they read to their child) during the summer. Once a week, the children can attend group activities organized around the theme. Madras kids meet Tuesdays at 2 p.m. at the Rodriguez Annex; Warm Springs kids meet Wednesdays at 2 p.m., at the Warm Springs Early Childhood Education building; and Culver kids meet Thursdays at 2 p.m., at the Culver Elementary School Library.

The Summer Reading Program wraps up with a grand finale at 2 p.m., Tuesday, July 23, in Sahalee Park with pizza, prizes, music and games.

Screen on the Green – Say goodbye to summer on Sept. 6, in Sahalee Park, when the Jefferson County Library Film Center hosts a kids’ outdoor movie on a big screen in Sahalee Park in Madras. Families can bring blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy entertainment on a warm summer night. Check the library’s website at www.jcld.org for the date.

Library Band – Middle school and high school student musicians are invited to join the Jefferson County Library Band, which performs in Madras parades, the Madras Saturday Market, library youth programs, the Screen on the Green, and at community fundraisers. The band is funded by the library and a grant from the Jefferson County Cultural Coalition. Call Lorene Forman at 541-475-3351, ext. 2, for more information.

Stroller and Hiking jaunts

Walking Trail -- Madras is in the process of developing a paved Willow Creek Biking and Walking Trail that will eventually circle around the entire town. For a shady nature walk, or stroller ride, start at the Lutheran/Episcopal Church, at 395 S.E. C St., and catch the trail, which winds along the banks of Willow Creek west to the Highway 97/26 intersection. After carefully crossing the highway (there area pedestrian signal lights), the trail picks up again, crosses Willow Creek on a new pedestrian bridge, and meanders into the east side of town.

Willow Creek Canyon -- For teens and parents wanting a challenging hike, the path leads up to the outdoor dirt Willow Creek Canyon Trail, which continues seven miles to Pelton Park and Lake Simtustus. (Note: be sure and bring water for this hike, and don’t go when it’s hot because the canyon can heat up like an oven.) You must arrange for your own transportation back from Pelton Park. One option is for hikers to park one car at Pelton Park, then drive back in another car to start the hike.

Kids can fish at the stocked youth pond next to the fairgrounds.The M Trail – Madras’ newly completed trail, which leads to a viewing area above the town’s signature rock “M” on the hill by the train trestle, can be climbed by toddlers as well as adults. The path is paved, but since the north side is steep, take kids on the south switchback entrance, which starts off Old Culver Highway, near H Street. You will be rewarded with benches and a fantastic view of the whole town and surrounding area when you reach the top.


The Madras Aquatic Center, known for its panoramic windows with sweeping views of Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters, is a water play land for children. A shallow area for young kids has fanciful water features that spray or dump water on swimmers. For those that can swim, or are accompanied by an adult, there is a “river current” to float around and lifejackets or float boards are provided.

A thrilling spiral water slide is available for kid and adult swimmers; and there is also a deep water lap pool and hot tub.

MAC has ongoing lessons, activities and camps for kids. Call 541-475-4253 for schedule information.

Bike and Skatepark

Built by the Dreamland Skateparks company, Madras’ 10,000-square-foot Bike and Skatepark, at H and Southwest Marshall streets, has plenty of thrills, with two large bowls, steps, rails, ramps and ledges for riders and skaters. Be sure and bring your helmet.

Parades and Events

Candy-tossing parades, festivals and special community events abound in the summer, starting with the opening of the Madras Saturday Market June 1. There are plenty of kid-priced trinkets, plus wooden toys, berries and treats to enjoy. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

See Native American dancers at their finest at Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days in Warm Springs, June 28-30, in the fields next to the Community Center. Admission is free. The parade is at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 29.

The Rockhound Powwow, June 26-30, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, seems to enthrall children of all ages each year. They can shop for everything from rock jewelry, thundereggs and fossils to a grab bag full of mystery rocks. Admission is free.

Sahalee Park, at C and Seventh streets, is the site of an old-fashioned Community Fourth of July Celebration, with music, food, games and entertainment. Don’t miss the spectacular fireworks display at dusk, visible from anywhere in town.

Are your kids horse crazy? Spectators can get their fill of horses for free at the 4-H Horse Fair, July 11-14, all day long, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

The Fair Parade rolls around Sahalee Park on Saturday, July 20, with a many 4-H and kid-oriented floats.

The Jefferson County Fair, which runs July 24-27, with a carnival, fair food, rodeos, pigs, lambs, steers, goats, exhibits and entertainment is everything a kid could wish for.

Culver is the place to be Aug. 17, for the Crawdad Festival. Kids can be as messy as they want, cracking open a pile of boiled crawdads and feasting on corn on the cob. Plenty of games, entertainment and contests will be going on, too.

Summer activities are capped off with the Airshow of the Cascades, Aug. 23-24, held at the Madras Municipal Airport. Youngsters get an up close view of airplanes of every vintage, shape and size, from World War II models to jets. Enjoy food, a mini train ride, and exciting airplane acrobatic shows all day long.

Day Camps

Week-long summer daytime camps are being offered from June 17 through Aug. 30, by the Madras Kids Club and Madras Aquatic Center.

Camp topics include: basketball, Ethos music, technology, biking martial arts, photography, tennis, Lego Robotics, survival skills, water polo, bowling, football, dance, farm fun, fishing, creative writing, yoga, aviation, volleyball, art, journalism, solar spinners, and soccer.

Camp costs range from $25 to $70, depending on if it’s a full-day or half-day camp, and whether the child is a Kids Club member. Call 541-475-7028 or 541-475-4253 for information.

Day Trips

Parents willing to do a little traveling have many fun options in the surrounding area.

To check out the Metolius Train Depot, turn a block west of Highway 361 on Sixth Street, in the middle of Metolius. See a historic olden-days train depot, and maybe even a train going by.

Cascade Lavender Farm and Petting Zoo, located on Southwest Feather Drive near Metolius, is a treat for kids and adults alike. Kids can enjoy llamas, bunnies and chickens, while mom gathers u-pick lavender, or just enjoy the fragrance and view. Visit www.cascadelavender.com for directions.

At Pelton Park, located on Lake Simtustus behind Pelton Dam, families can campout in a yurt, while enjoying rimrock, sagebrush, and canyon scenery, along with water sports on the lake. Boat and paddlewheel rentals are available at the park store. Don’t miss the ice cream cones at Roxie’s Café.

Cove Palisades State Park, west of Culver on the Deschutes River, is the place to go for a day of swimming and sunbathing. There are three “landings,” or swim areas, to choose from, trails to explore, campsites, a marina where watercraft can be rented, and even log cabins for families to rent.

A logged-off swim area at the first landing is a beautiful place to relax and play. The sandy beach gives kids a place to build sand castles, and the grassy park has huge boulders to climb. The breathtaking scenery of the Cove’s rimrock canyon and expansive lake is the ultimate high desert experience.

Tribally owned Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, located about 11 miles north of the town of Warm Springs, features a huge adult pool and kiddy pool filled with warm water from a natural hot springs (thus the name Warm Springs), and a giant spiral water slide. And where else can you campout in a teepee?

The resort draws locals as well as foreign visitors, and you will often hear Russian and Japanese being spoken around you as you swim. On the drive out to Kah-Nee-Ta, you may spot a roaming herd of wild horses, and across the road from the pool is a place where kids can rent a horse to ride, and sign up for horseback tours.