Outdoors Fun in Winter

If we never went outside when the weather was rainy, or cold, or windy, those of us in the wet Pacific Northwest, would be locked up inside most of the year. 

Winter is a time of renewal in Oregon. Rains bring needed water to fill the rivers and lakes, soaking the forests and nourishing the grasses across the valley. Cold air sweeps down from Canada, and warmer winds float up from the south, making our weather alternately cold and wet, then mild and a little less wet.

But that variability doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the great outdoors. Even during our cold and wet winters there is fun to be had in the Willamette Valley.

Take a Hike

As in all our other seasons, hiking is a great option during the winter. Should we luck into a little bit of snow that sticks to the ground and builds, hikers have the fun of finding animal tracks left in the snow. If it’s just wet, experience the way the trees create a canopy like an open umbrella and make a game of dashing from one dry spot to the next.

Look for birds

Many of our native bird species overwinter in the Willamette Valley. Spend some time seeing how many you can identify. Just this week I watched a tiny hummingbird perched at the top of my cherry tree and a regal Cooper’s hawk make a meal out of a recently killed raccoon on the side of the road.

Bundle Up

Make any outdoor adventure more fun with the proper clothing. Lined, waterproof boots keep your feet dry in all weather. Pair them with a pair of wool socks for extra warmth. A pair of rain pants over trousers will add a second layer of insulation to any pair of legs. Not just for the kids, rain pants keep adults warm and dry too. Keep that body heat in with a well-fitting warm hat, an insulated rain or snow coat, and pair of gloves or mittens. Bundled up with the right gear you’ll be warm for even the wettest adventure.

Find a Festival

Festivals don’t stop when summer winds down. Throughout the year there are festivals celebrating many Oregonian favorites. Hazelnuts, Wine, Music, Dancing, Bird Watching. So many choices, even in winter. Visit the Willamette Valley Visitors website for ideas, locations, and dates.

Get Moving

Simply taking a walk in the neighborhood gives bodies the chance to get moving, with all the benefits of exercise and movement. Shake off the doldrums and get the blood flowing. Let your little ones hunt for treasures – that perfect pebble or shapely stick, while you enjoy our great, wet, outdoors this winter.

Don’t let the rain put the brakes on your family’s outdoor adventures. Dress for the weather, and continue to get out there and enjoy this beautiful area we call home.

 

Lynne Brown is a freelance writer, former Montessori teacher, and mom to seven amazing kids, some of whom now have kids of their own. She loves writing on parenting and early childhood education. You can learn more about her at www.lynnebrownwriting.com.