What’s to Love: Ibach Park is a creatively designed destination with an “award winning” playground based-on Tualatin’s prehistoric, Native, and pioneer history. Where else could you climb on some dinosaur bones, build a river with deep canyons, and walk on the moon? Ibach is a lovely park that I place into the same category as other “destination parks” like Memorial Park, Sellwood Park , or Laurelhurst Park. On a beautiful summer day, it’s definitely worth the drive out to Tualatin.
Although nestled in the suburbs of Portland, Ibach is surprisingly low-key and friendly. If I’m out that way, I wouldn’t hesitate to stop again. There is an abundance of green-space for lawn games and various outdoor sports. There are paved paths for walking, running, biking, rollerblading and/or skateboarding. For the nature lover, there are interpretive signs about the surrounding plants and animals. This is one of those parks that has something for everyone.
The playground is the showpiece at Ibach. It has one of the coolest water-features I’ve ever seen at a local park. Basically, touch a metal pole and water starts (slowly) heading down a stream, which dumps into the LARGE sandbox. Kids love playing with this little river! Our son enjoyed making dams, wetlands, reservoirs, and deep canyons in the sand. This is the type of fun that can keep kids busy for hours. I like how slowly the water comes out, because it gives the kids time to plan a careful pathway for their river.
There is a clever toddler play area with the perfect slide and plenty of activities to keep little explorers engaged in play. I liked the bridge crossing where friends have to turn a handle to move the cart over the abyss. There are some rubber logs that make a challenging obstacle course for early walkers and some spring-loaded animals to ride. Parents can give toddlers quite a bit of space here for exploration. Much of the surface is recycled rubber with plenty of give for soft landings.
Older kids will enjoy the “teen area,” which has some interesting and challenging playground equipment. It’s definitely more physical and age appropriate for the older set. If your younger kids want to partake in these interesting looking apparatuses, I would suggest some careful supervision. My son enjoyed experimenting on this gear, and loved being spun around on one of the whirling dervishes (I don’t know what else to call it – you can see it in the video below).
Caveats: This park is just begging for a spray-park like the ones they’re installing in North Portland parks (see Columbia Park). Like most parks, there are no grills for BBQing, which of course is not a problem if you have a portable grill. Overall, the park does not have a lot of shady spots with trees, which translates to some serious sun exposure, especially if you’re on the playground equipment. Definitely bring sun screen and/or hats and plenty of water.
Website: Ibach Park
Distance from Portland: It’s about 15-20 miles from the Portland area. Plan on about 30 minutes to get down there. Here is a Google Map of the area.
Recommended Ages: This is a good park for a wide variety of ages, and a great park for a party or family get together. Specifically, the playground equipment has an excellent area for toddlers and kids under 5.
Parental Stress Factor: Very low stress park! People keep their dogs on leashes, pick up their pet’s mess, and generally keep a low profile.
Physical Difficulty: The park has some paved-pathways that make sections handicap accessible. The bathrooms are accessible.
Family Fun Factor: Medium to High – again, this depends on how much enjoyment you get out of parks in general. If you bring a bunch of outdoor sporting equipment and a picnic, your family will be all set for a good half-day of entertainment.
Pet Friendly: This is a great park for families with dogs.
Weather Considerations: In case of rain, the park has several covered picnic areas. While this is an excellent park, it may not be worth the drive in rainy weather.
Insider Info: This park is pretty close to some other gems south of Portland. If you want to spend the whole day exploring, I recommend the following destinations: Memorial Park, Wilsonville Lanes, Bullwinkle’s Family Fun Center, Safari Sam’s, and the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge.
Throw sand on the blue-rubber-hillside, and you have an instant slide for bottoms and feet (again, check-out the video)! My son enjoyed sliding down this on his feet. If there is not sand, it’s pretty sticky. One time, he went flying because he ran out of sand. Luckily the rubbery material is pretty soft. However, you may want to keep a close watch on your kids while playing on this surface.
Family Tips: This is one of the nicest parks I’ve seen for family functions such as birthday parties. It’s so well-kept that it looks like it’s privately owned. While I like green grass just as much as the next person, I’m a bit suspicious of any lawn that looks “golf-course-quality.” I don’t know about their methods of fertilization, but as a parent, you might want to inquire with the Tualatin Parks and Recreation.
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Foster Burger on January 18th, 2011