Go Kayaking, Rock Climbing and More in Eugene, OR
Eugene is about as well situated as a place can be for lovers of the great outdoors. Within a drive of an hour or two‚ one can choose from the ocean‚ rivers‚ lakes‚ dunes‚ mountains‚ deserts‚ rain forests or volcanoes for a variety of recreational options. No kidding – the options are that vast.
“We’re really close to nature,” says Kathy Madison, public information manager at the City of Eugene. “One of the things about this county, is that you can go from the mountains to the ocean in about two hours. Eugene is smack in the middle. You go west and you get to the ocean in about an hour. Go east, and you get to the mountains for skiing, recreating and fishing, mountain climbing, mountain biking and all those kinds of activities.”
And if you don’t feel like driving to just about any kind of environment one could hope to play in‚ you can simply walk or bike to an incredible array of fun stuff inside the city.
City parks‚ which cover about 2‚900 acres‚ feature 14 miles of hiking and jogging paths‚ 24 athletic fields‚ 23 tennis courts‚ indoor and outdoor pools‚ a climbing wall‚ skateboard facilities‚ rose and rhododendron gardens‚ 2‚300 acres of natural areas‚ and much more.
West Eugene Wetlands Partnership
In addition‚ the West Eugene Wetlands Partnership owns and manages another 2‚800 acres of natural areas. And the city maintains a 122-mile-long bikeway system.
The city is nestled between two mountain ranges at the confluence of the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. The Cascade Mountains – with some volcanic peaks exceeding 10‚000 feet– are less than a two-hour drive to the east. To the west‚ the Pacific Ocean is just across the Coast Range.
With all these bodies of water nearby‚ many types of fishing and boating are popular recreational choices.
“Folks who live in Eugene are pretty outdoor minded,” says Wild Water Adventures owner Paul Reynolds. “Doing something like this is a lot of fun.”
Wild Water Adventures offers trips on the McKenzie, North Santiam, Deschutes and Lower Owyhee rivers.
University of Oregon’s Outdoor Program
The patriarch of outdoor adventures here is the University of Oregon’s Outdoor Program, established more than 40 years ago. Although modern technology has made networking easier, the program has remained true to its basic concept of cooperative outdoor adventure.
“We’re a product of the ’60s, which was about how we can cooperate together in a consensus format to make things happen from the ground up rather than from the top down,” says Dan Geiger, outdoor program coordinator. “It is a concept that thrived during that time period and also in Eugene. It really resonated and continues to do so.”
The Outdoor Program is available to all UO students, whose membership is covered in incidental fees they pay. It is also open to all Eugene residents for a nominal annual fee.
The program facilitates 150 to 200 trips a year, all initiated by the participants who post trip proposals on a board in the program’s office. The trips are planned and funded by the travelers.
“It’s very spontaneous around here. Often, we don’t know what trips we’re going to have the following week. The sky’s the limit,” Geiger says. “We’ve had groups that have climbed in the Himalayas, river trips in the Arctic and Central America, as well as smaller, closer outings.”
Find more outdoor programs in Eugene, OR.