- The Cascades Raptor Center (henceforth to be called CRC for the purposes of my shaky, over-caffeinated fingers) is located way up on a hill up Fox Hollow Road. Like, waaaay up. I kept thinking that surely I had missed it. Nope - keep going. But look carefully - it's easy to miss. There's a small sign on the right.
- Leave your dog at home. They can't even sit in the car, so plan ahead!
- The parking lot is small, so if you have bigger kiddos who don't need car seats and you're planning on meeting friends, it might be smart to carpool.
- The CRC is composed of gravel paths that fan off both sides of the parking lot. Start by checking in at the visitor's center (it's up and to the right), and then checking out the birds on the right hand side. Then go back across the parking lot to the path on the left and you'll see the rest of the birds.
- The gravel paths are steep with a capital S! Make sure your littles are wearing sturdy shoes. Also be sure that they don't run - a tumble down those gravel hills would not be a pretty thing.
- Most of the CRC is pretty covered by really big trees. This makes it great for either a really sunny, hot day, or a slightly drizzly, wet day.
- Beware: there's a gift shop in the visitor's center where you have to pay and check in at the beginning. There are some very desirable offerings - prep your kiddos with your best "looking eyes only" and "you're welcome to put it on your Christmas list" speech.
- There are handler talks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 1:30. Smart bird watchers might plan their visit to either begin or end with that. Handler talks last about 20-30 minutes.
- The birds are all really impressive. They have interesting stories about how they ended up at the CRC which are posted on plaques in front of their cages. However, if you're three years old and you can't read any plaques, and all the birds look pretty darn similar to you...it might take only a few minutes to tour the entire CRC. I think kiddos who are a bit older, who have some reading skills, some finer tuned observational skills, and a tiny more patience would really enjoy the CRC and fully take advantage of what it has to offer.
- Don't even think about trying to push a stroller around unless it's a hardy BOB-ish type.
- Pack a picnic! There are a few picnic tables and it's totally fine to bring in your own food.
- In my (very frugal, one income family, stay at home mom) opinion, visiting the CRC is a pretty spendy excursion. But don't let that stop you! There's a wonderful solution! Many of the Lane County local public libraries have family passes to the CRC available to check out! The pass gets you up to $26 in admission for free. That is a super awesome option. For some reason Springfield doesn't participate - such a bummer!
- The CRC has a great website that you should check out before you visit. It should answer any practical questions you have and there's also a really cool one minute-ish video you can show your littles before you visit to give them a taste of what to expect.
Parking: A small, free lot
Food: None for purchase, but you can bring your own
Cost: Adults - $8
Children under 12 - $5 or check the library (see above)
Push/Wear: Wear that baby. The calories you'll burn from hauling him up the hills will totally justify that naptime handful of chocolate chips. Is that just me? Hmm.
Restrooms: There are port-a-potties
Time Frame: About an hour
Resting/Nursing Spots: There are a few benches scattered around, as well as some picnic tables near the visitor's center
Megan Defferding is the mom to two super fun boys who love to find great stuff to do all around Lane County! Check out her blog series, Happy Adventuring, weekly on GoMomGo.