Getting Kids Out Into Nature

The High Desert Museum in Bend, OR – 2/18/17

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Outdoor Paths

My brother recently moved his family to Central Oregon, and we took advantage of our 5-day weekend for President’s Day to drive down for a visit. On Saturday, I took the kids to the High Desert Museum south of Bend, OR. It has been several years since we’ve visited, and Annika didn’t even remember the last time we were there.

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Oregon High Desert Museum

We decided to make it an afternoon visit, and we were lucky enough to be there for two of the keeper talks. The museum has indoor displays, as well as a trail to walk outside to see various exhibits. First we went to the river otter display, which has a nice outdoor play area for the animals to swim and romp.

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Otters at Play

You can get up close to the otters, and they are curious, cute, and fun to watch.

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Otter Tracks in the Snow

The keeper was out feeding the pair, and talked about some of their interesting features. We were able to go inside the exhibit, as well, to learn about the river otters and other animals that live in the riparian habitats of the high desert.

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Looking at a Microscope
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In the Otter Exhibit

From there the trail meanders over to the recreation of historical buildings from the times of the European settlers.

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Recreation of Settlers Farm

You can look at a saw mill, a cabin, and a farm setting with real animals (in the winter there are only chickens, but in the summer months they have more farm animals on site.)

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Cold Cellar and Barnyard
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Willow and Juniper Fence

There were volunteers dressed up in the cabin, acting as if they were the owners of the cabin. They did a nice job at presenting this living history, and we enjoyed listening to the conversations between them and other visitors.

Soon it was time to leave the warmth of the settlers’ cabin, and make our way to the raptor exhibit.

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Wingspan

We checked out the raptors on display, then waited for the program to start.

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Golden Eagle

A keeper brought out a great-horned owl for us to see, and it was in the process of learning how to perform in shows.

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Great Horned Owl

This owl had imprinted on humans, so it needed to be retrained how to hunt for itself and perform other owlish tasks. It had just learned how to fly to the different perches and back to the keeper. She gave a lot of good information about owls, and it was an engaging show.

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Owl Getting a Snack

We finished up looking at the indoor displays, which included other critters that inhabit the high desert.

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Burrowing Owls

Snakes and other reptiles, grouse, burrowing owls – we appreciated a close-up look at all of these interesting creatures.

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One of the Grouses

We walked through the Native American part of the building, admiring especially the intricate beadwork and other artistic displays.

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Tule Mat Summer Tipi

There was a special exhibit about a fossil shark with a peculiar jaw structure, and accompanying artwork by Ray Troll.

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Spiral Shark Teeth!
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Ray Troll Artwork

We didn’t have time to get to the exhibit about WWII, though. Younger children will enjoy the indoor play area, pretending to play out in the desert.

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Indoor Play Area

If you go: The High Desert Museum is located along Highway 97, south of Bend, OR. There are different hours for summer and winter; check their website for current info. For this visit, the prices were $12 for General Admission, $7 for kids ages 5-12, and $10 for seniors. Kids 4 and under are free. Prices are slightly higher during summer months.

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Photo Bomb!
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Horse and Foal Statue

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