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We love solitude, quiet, and remote camping spots. Our family carries enough chaos (with 6 kids!) so we seek out the calmest and most private places possible for setting up our tent. LaPine State Park was none of these things. And we loved it!
LaPine State Park campground review
La Pine State Park is part of the Oregon State Park system, and has 2,333 acres near LaPine, Oregon. The campground includes 129 campsites, most with tent pads and full hook-ups for RVs. It also features 10 adorable log cabins. We chose LaPine State Park for our summer adventure trip because we could reserve a spot at the last minute and know we’d have a place to pitch our tent when we arrived late in the day. Our trip was planned in a single day, just before we left, so we didn’t want to risk not finding a campsite during a busy summer week.
Campsites are arranged in three loops, each including a building with flush toilets, sinks, and showers. Our site, #34, was in the final, or South, loop. We were right up against the community green space, a lush expanse of irrigated grass perfect for kids to play. And play they did…every evening was filled with happy shouts from camp kids becoming best friends for a few hours. Someone set up a badminton net, and the kids tossed over whatever ball they could find (or lacking a ball, pine cones). One night someone brought a frisbee, and they played until it was too dark to see.
Ultimately, we were all surprised at how much we enjoyed our stay at LaPine State Park. It was nice having water right in our campsite, and the showers were actually a welcome perk. But the best part was the green space that attracted neighboring campsites’ kids. My kids had people to play with, and they all had a great time.
Amenities at LaPine State Park
Every campsite has room for a tent, along with a picnic table and a fire ring. Of the 129 campsites, 82 have full hook-ups, and 47 have water and electricity. For those of us who are tent campers, this means every site has water! If you’ve followed any of our other campground reviews, you’ll know that we almost always carry in water (like, from home) because our campsites tend to be remote with few amenities.
But wait, there’s more! LaPine State Park has flush bathrooms and sinks with hot water in every loop. AND showers! Showers?! I thought we were camping! I’ll admit, I’ve always scoffed at campgrounds with showers as “not our scene”. But I also have to admit, I indulged in a shower after hiking Crack in the Ground and I loved it.
The campground also has a camp host, and we were able to buy local firewood at a very reasonable price. Each bundle was $5 and included more wood than a grocery store bundle. We chose to use the camp host firewood every day. Usually we gather our own firewood, and there was plentiful wood fairly close by, but buying the wood from the host saved us a lot of time.
What to do nearby
Oh gosh, what do you want to do? There’s everything! We use our campsites as a jumping off point for adventure. Our first day, we drove north to the Lava Lands Visitor Center. We arrived too late to do the tram ride to the top of the cinder cone, but we enjoyed the museum and wandered the grounds a bit. A winding path includes interpretive signage exploring the history of the volcanic activity. Hours vary by season, so click that link for details.
Fort Rock & Christmas Valley
On our second day, we drove through Fort Rock and stopped at the Homestead Village Museum. An incredibly kind volunteer opened the museum just for us on her day off, and led us through the school building, the church, the mercantile & post office, the doctor’s clinic, and more. It was seriously like going back in time, and this was a surprise highlight of the trip.
After the museum, we drove through Christmas Valley to hike the trail at Crack in the Ground. This 2 mile round trip trail follows the bottom of a volcanic fissure and is truly a unique experience. Fairly safe for kids as they can’t get lost, and fun for older kids and teens with the boulder scrambles and fascinating rock features in the canyon walls.
Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument
On our third and final day, we visited the Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument. Our first stop was a hike to the top of Big Obsidian Flow. This is a moderate to difficult one mile hike over a volcanic glass trail. That’s right, the trail is literally glass, so leave your pups at home if you can. The view at the top is worth the rocky scramble, and a docent is available there to answer questions and take family photos.
Also nearby, only about 15 minutes away, is the Lava River Cave, a one-mile long lava tube cave that is open for visitors. It’s also part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Plan half a day for this cave if you have young kids. Older kids will move faster, but for us, we spent about 3 hours inside the cave. It’s one mile from the entrance to the end and one mile back, so about two miles round trip. And it was amazing! We didn’t get to do this on our camping trip, so we drove back a few weeks later and did this as a day trip from home.
More Things to Do
And as if that’s not enough, there’s even more to do near LaPine State Park. You can fish and swim the Deschutes River, which runs right through the state park. There’s also rafting and boating opportunities. The area is rife with hiking trails, including a lovely trail that circles the state park and runs along the river. Our daughter literally ran this trail, getting in some miles for her cross country sport. There’s also a short trail to a Big Tree, a registered ponderosa pine that is the largest of its kind ever recorded.
The High Desert Museum is a mere 15 minutes away, and it’s outstanding. I highly recommend going with children, and plan to spend at least half a day as the museum is wonderful and you won’t want to leave. Pack a picnic or enjoy the on-site restaurant. The city of Bend is less than 30 minutes away and it has a wealth of things to do, along with a Visitor’s Center.
If you go, and I hope that you do, here are the nitty gritty details that families need to know:
Reservations Accepted: ReserveAmerica.com
Prices: $26-29 per night
Amenities: water and electricity at each site, bathrooms with hot and cold water, hot showers, community center, green space, camp host with wood and cold drinks, picnic table, fire ring
Nearest town: LaPine is 15 miles away and has restaurants, hotels, a grocery store, and a BiMart
Our kids’ ages on this trip: 2, 2, 5, 6, 9, 14