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Ways to Get Outside that Aren’t Hiking

Original post from Rebekah Ratcliff from the Deschutes Land Trust.

There is no lack of incredible places in Central Oregon to explore and discover. Getting outdoors, however, doesn’t always have to be an extreme activity. For many of us spending time outdoors comes in a variety of forms. As the weather improves and you look to enjoy our incredible natural spaces, give one of these less strenuous ways to get outdoors a try:

  1. Enjoy a Picnic
    Whether you are on your lunch break or on a mountaintop, mealtime is the perfect excuse to pause and take in your surroundings. From the fanciest picnic baskets to the humble peanut butter and jelly sandwich, eating outdoors allows us to linger a bit longer than we might have. There’s nothing quite like sharing a meal and some fresh air. Next time you’re visiting Whychus Canyon Preserve, try enjoying a picnic at one of the canyon’s overlook. (But be sure to practice Leave No Trace!)

Golden Crowned Sparrow perched at Camp Polk Meadow. Photo: Kris Kristovich.

Golden Crowned Sparrow perched at Camp Polk Meadow. Photo: Kris Kristovich.

2. Peace and Quiet
It seems that everywhere we turn we are being told to listen, look, and take in more information, more advertisements, and more, more, more. Taking a moment outside can help us center ourselves and find some peace and quiet, though we’ll warn you, once you find a quiet place outside you may begin to hear more than you might’ve imagined–the birds are singing, bees are buzzing, and when you take a moment to sit in the peace outdoors you may even begin to hear the gentle winds. Try sitting and taking in the world around you at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve where you might have the chance to see one of the more than 160 species of birds that call the meadow their home.

3. Cloud Watching
Central Oregon’s clouds move quickly across our high desert skies. Watching as they crash over the Cascade mountain range and move can fill you with wonder. Inviting your children to join you can spark your imagination and ignite new curiosities. Try making a visit to Indian Ford Meadow Preserve to take in the view of the mountains and watch the clouds as they float above the meadow. You might even find yourself watching birds too if you’re lucky!

4. Journaling
Bringing a pen and notepad into nature is a great way to train yourself to notice things more closely and as you may never have noticed them before. Whether drawing, writing, or taking quick notes, you’ll have detailed accounts of your experiences in the outdoors to look back upon and find out how much you and the places you frequent have changed. Not sure how to get started journaling? Join us for an evening of Nature Journaling at one of our Preserves.

5. Make a Splash
As the temperatures rise in Central Oregon and our days get drier, there is no better way to beat the heat than enjoying one of Central Oregon’s many lakes, rivers, or springs! Bring your little ones to explore the waters of Lake Creek at the Metolius Preserve as we discover new Water Bugs!

6. Grow your Garden
Did you plant milkweed? Learn how you can plant native blossoms in your own backyard to help butterflies, bumblebees, and other pollinators to keep Central Oregon’s lands healthy. Whether you are tending to healthy plants, creating healthy soil, or pulling invasive weeds, gardening is a great way to get outdoors and help create healthier lands.

7. Seek the Stars

Milky Way galazy and stars over Rimrock Ranch at a summer Star Party. Photo: John Williams.

Milky Way galazy and stars over Rimrock Ranch at a summer Star Party. Photo: John Williams.

8. Can’t take the heat? The fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down! Central Oregon’s clear skies come to life at night. Learn your favorite constellations, look for planets, or keep your eye out for a shooting star. Looking to kick-start your star gazing knowledge? Join us for a star party this summer!

9. Rest
Summer can be a busy time of life. Being outdoors can be the perfect time to find rest. Studies have shown that it is beneficial for us to get outdoors, improving short term memory, helping us to de-stress, reducing inflammation, and maybe fighting depression and anxiety as well as helping prevent cancer.

10. Bring along a Buddy
Sitting or walking outside is the perfect time to catch up with a friend or share an experience. Whether you are looking to get to know someone better or are simply looking for something to do together, by going outdoors together we often give more attention to our companions and create shared experiences.

11. Stroll the Sidewalks
Getting outdoors doesn’t always mean summiting mountains, climbing rocks, or doing the extreme. For many of us, getting outdoors is as simple as taking a stroll outside. Going on an ‘urban hike’ or strolling the sidewalks of your neighborhood can help you notice things you may never have noticed before during your everyday commute. Watching birds, critters, or even bustling people from a sidewalk can be just as exciting as the activity you might encounter while walking a forest path.

12. Watch the Water
Central Oregon is home to many incredible rivers, lakes, and streams. Sitting next to and listening to the sound of water or enjoying the way it moves can provide a sense of calm. Still, these waterways are full of life. From fish to bugs and birds there is plenty of action in and surrounding our streams. Taking it all in can be a great way to truly appreciate what it brings to our community and our lives.

13. Paint the Sunset
No art experience necessary. It is no secret that Central Oregon is profoundly beautiful. From the high peaks of the Cascades to the sagebrush seas and everything in between. Creating art is a great way to get outdoors and take in the beauty around us. Whether you are making a painting, taking a photo, or doing a simple drawing, capturing the beauty of our land helps us to fall more in love with this place. (Even if no one else ever gets to see your creation.)

Sunset on the Three Sisters from Indian Ford Meadow. Photo: Jay Mather.

Sunset on the Three Sisters from Indian Ford Meadow. Photo: Jay Mather.

14. Take in the View
It is part of our mission to protect the beauty and scenic wonder of Central Oregon, and we hope you are able to take the time to enjoy it. Whether you are seated below the stunning mountains at Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, looking down into Whychus Canyon, or staring back at your reflection in the clear waters of the Metolius River, we hope you’ll cherish and treasure the beauty of this place and help us to protect it for generations to come.

15. Walk the Dog

A good dog enjoying the trail while on leash. Photo: Land Trust.

A good dog enjoying the trail while on leash. Photo: Land Trust.

16. Sharing in our furry friends’ excitement over going for a walk can be a great way to force ourselves outdoors, take in the fresh air, and get moving. As you and your pup make their way to the trail it’s important to remember the impacts dogs can have on our environment. Please keep your pup on leash and be sure to pack out their waste–dogs can’t practice Leave No Trace on their own!

17. Breathe
Whether it is a minute or an hour, breathing in our wild air is good for the body, mind, and heart. We hope that these protected lands make it easy for you to fall in love with and enjoy our natural world. From the high peaks of the Cascades to the tall pine forests and the rivers running clear may you find a moment to breathe it all in.


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