Champoeg State Heritage Area

Located on the banks of the Willamette River, Champoeg State Heritage Area offers visitors a combination of history, nature and recreation. While offering a beautiful setting for a range of present day recreational pursuits, Champoeg State Park was also established to commemorate the organization of the Oregon Provisional Government at a settlers’ meeting held within the present park boundaries on May 2, 1843.

“If it wasn’t for Champoeg… we wouldn’t have a Sesquicentennial at all.” Barbara Sidway, Chair, Oregon 150 Committee

The park presents a unique opportunity for public education as it enjoys 339, 944 day-use visitors each year. It is also in a prime location for visits by area schools.

The Oregon State Parks Foundation successfully raised $205,000 to update interpretive displays at the visitor center. OSPF worked closely with the Friends of Historic Champoeg with a goal of completing the restoration work in time for Oregon’s 150th anniversary of statehood on February 14, 2009.

The updated interpretive displays provide visitors with a better understanding of the historic significance of the Champoeg area and its role in the settlement of the Willamette Valley. Housed in an agrarian style building near the entrance of the park, the visitor center improvements also included a new roof, paint, and a new heating/cooling system.

In 2018, the Foundation raised $50,000 to replace the Ryan Creek Bridge on the walkway along the Willamette River.

Silver Falls State Park

Oregon State Parks Trust has helped secure funds for a youth educational program and for the restoration of the historic buildings in the park.

Willamette River Water Trail

Oregon State Parks Foundation was a proud supporting partner of the Willamette River Water Trail.  Other lead partners include:  Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon State Marine Board, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Governor Kulongoski’s Plan for The Willamette River Legacy, Oregon State Parks Trust, Willamette Riverkeepers, Portland Parks & Recreation, GI Joe’s, Columbia Sportswear, and American Heritage Rivers.

This third phase portion of the Willamette River Water Trail (WRWT) completes the 216-mile water-based trail.  The third section stretches 72-miles between Wheatland Ferry and the Willamette River’s confluence with the Columbia River.

In general terms, a water trail is a stretch of river, shoreline or other waterway that has been mapped out for access and use by—and the education of—canoeists, kayakers, other non-motorized boaters, and related recreational consumers. Just as hikers walk on dirt pathways, the flow of a river-based trail provides liquid pathways for canoeists, kayakers, and rafters. Water trails provide multiple access points, allowing users to choose to travel along it for short or long distances and even choose to spend multiple nights along the trail.

The WRWT links existing public lands, providing the public with more opportunities to use existing public resources and reconnecting people and communities with the Willamette River.

The project addresses four primary needs, those related to recreation and wellness, education, economic development, and the environment.

First, all Oregonians require easily accessed opportunities for healthy, participatory recreation, especially as a means to wellness and fitness. With over 70% of Oregonians living within 20 minutes of the Willamette River, recreation based on and along the river is ideal for addressing this fundamental need. This is especially true in the Portland metro area, where people live more densely and nearby recreational options are already in heavy use.

Next, all Portlanders—indeed all residents of and visitors to Oregon—need high-quality, learning experiences. The WRWT provides experiential learning opportunities, ranging from skill building (e.g. kayaking, canoeing), to information about the Willamette River and how our individual decisions impact its qualities and conditions, to knowledge of indigenous peoples and native plants, fish, and wildlife, to the cultural history of the most populous region of the state.

Third, Oregonians need opportunities to work and earn a livable wage. The WRWT will offer a variety of individuals and businesses new and expanded economic and work opportunities. Obviously, businesses that rent or sell boats and related equipment will benefit from just having more people needing their products and services. In addition, the WRWT will create new economic opportunity for people and businesses that can provide services such as shuttle services, lodging and food near or accessible from the river.

Finally, those who live along or utilize the Willamette River have a need for it to be as clean, safe, and sustainable a resource as possible. The WRWT will put more people in close contact with the river and will encourage responsible stewardship of this unique resource.  An overarching goal is to increase the perceived value of a healthy, accessible river, influencing both public policy and individual action. In addition, metropolitan water trails and increased river use elsewhere have served to decrease crime (especially vandalism) and increase positive community spirit.

Please click here:

  • For more information about the Willamette River Water Trail;
  • To request a printed copy of the Willamette River Water Trail guide (a detailed, waterproof map of the WRWT); or
  • To print your own customized water trail guide.

Willamette Mission “Ghost Structure”

Driven by a desire to bring the story of the early pioneer settlement alive for visitors to the park, an innovative approach was selected to tell the story of the early mission.  Oregon State Parks Foundation helped to raise $125,780 to develop the Willamette Mission Ghost Structure and provide two interpretative kiosks.

The Ghost Structure – an open sided metal structure that depicts the mission buildings, is located on the original mission site.  This is an acceptable interpretative method used on other National Register sites and helps provide a three dimensional glimpse of the context of the site from an almost forgotten era.  This structure is clearly visible from the interpretative trail and kiosks located on the west bank of Mission Lake in the park.  The trail system leading to the site is ADA accessible.

Willamette Mission State Park is the site of the former Willamette Mission, established in 1834 by Reverend Jason Lee, who traveled overland from the eastern U.S. to teach the Native Americans in the Oregon Country.  This park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a great place for history buffs to explore.

Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Oregon State Parks Foundation helped raise $22,450 to build the Whistle Stop Community Shelter, which provides information and a place for picnics and learning out of the inclement weather.  With the Buxton trestle in the background, this was a perfect location for an educational and interpretive shelter to tell the story of the timber railroad – an important element of Oregon’s history – and provide a gathering point along this popular trail.

The Banks-Vernonia State Trail is the first “rails–to-trails” state park built in Oregon.  It is constructed on an abandoned railroad bed that extends 21 miles from the town of Banks to the city of Vernonia.  The trail includes an eight-foot wide hiking and bicycle trail paralleled by a four-foot wide horse trail.  The gentle grade allows hikers, bikers and equestrians to enjoy the scenic mountains, meadows and forests of Washington and Columbia Counties.

Fort Yamhill State Park

Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area: Connecting Place and People

Established in the mid-1800s to regulate the eastern border of the Grand Ronde Agency Coastal Reservation, Fort Yamhill tells a national story as well as a Northwestern one. It tells the story of settling the west, of what happens when one culture displaces another and of the early days of the Oregon frontier.  All planning work for the property has been done in partnership with OPRD and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, reflecting a shared vision for the site.

This important historic preservation project will restore and reconstruct one of Oregon’s most significant cultural and historic sites—Fort Yamhill—providing present and future generations with opportunities to experience and learn about this notable place and time in Oregon and United States history.

Oregon State Parks Foundation helped to secure funds for the first phase of this multi-phased project.  The first phase included archaeological investigations and restoration of the existing officer’s quarters- the only remaining building on the site, believed to house General Philip Sheridan from 1857 to 1861.  Secured funding allowed the Officer’s Quarters to be repaired, strengthened and restored to its original configuration.

Future phases will include a visitor’s center, ghost structures showing the locations of other structures, replication of the blockhouse and general protection and identification of archaeological features – ultimately making Fort Yamhill Oregon’s first “archaeological state park”.

Milo McIver State Park

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Elijah Bristow State Park