I had gotten free tickets to do the Dinosaur Train up at Mt. Hood and we were so looking forward to going. Unfortunately we had a medical emergency (which I will write about in another post) that made it so we couldn't go. Thankfully my friend Sarah lives in Portland and has two kids I knew would enjoy it. As an added bonus she is a great writer and blogger so I asked if she would be willing to go and write up a post for me. Here are her thoughts. Enjoy and make sure to check out her info at the bottom. She's amazing!
Hood River and the drive through the Gorge are both absolutely beautiful. I have lived in the Portland area for almost 15 years and every single time we head east on I-84 (which is an average of twice a year), we ask ourselves why we don’t go more often.
This means I was excited to have the opportunity to head to Hood River recently for the Dinosaur Train with my husband and two boys (almost 3 and 14 months). I had never been on a Mt. Hood Railroad train, but it is something we have talked about doing several times (particularly as our toddler went through an obsession with Polar Express last Christmas!).
The train ride portion was approximately 30 minutes of Dinosaur Train music and entertainment, with an out and back leisurely jaunt along the river and through rural Oregon. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Nature's Track Adventure Park was actually located at the far end of the railway depot parking lot. The official information said there would be a 90 minute time at the Adventure Park followed by a train ride back to the station. Since the entire train ride was actually on the front end, and participants were free to leave at their discretion. This worked out great with younger kids, as they were finished in less than the 90 minutes allotted.
Here are my top 5 planning tips for the Dinosaur Train (or other Mt. Hood Railway adventure):
Make sure the kids wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Both my boys' favorites were the stations that included digging and excavating. There were several other non-dirty activities, including pictures with the dinosaurs, a bounce house, magician and a few more activity stations.
Plan to arrive at the Mt. Hood Railroad station at least 30 minutes prior to departure. The official guidelines recommend 45 minutes. We arrived about 35 minutes early and had plenty of time to grab our tickets, browse the station and then board the train. The boys loved having the extra time on board exploring the train prior to departure.
Pack water and sunscreen. It’s hot out in August!
Take cash ($5) for parking and extras. I've heard that there is street parking nearby, but there is enough metered parking around that it wasn't worth spending time hunting (and hiking) with two little ones. There were also dinosaur masks available for purchase, along with a wide variety of souvenirs in the railway depot and Adventure Park gift shop. My kids were young enough that we got away without buying the masks, but for $1 each, I wish they had just been included in the price of the ticket.
Plan for meals before or after your train excursion. Our train departed at 1:00, which meant we arrived at Mt. Hood Railway around 12:20 and boarded at 12:30. We should have planned ahead to arrive in time to eat lunch beforehand. The railroad is just a block from the main downtown Hood River area with a wide variety of restaurant options. We did have snacks packed, and at lunch in Hood River after the train. The snacks on board were for the kiddos only (they loved it, but I was hungry!).
All in all, the kids loved the experience, and we loved having a good reason to spend a fun family day in Hood River.
Disclosure: I received four complimentary tickets (2 adult, 2 children) to the Mt. Hood Railway's Dinosaur Train. I was not compensated in any other way, nor was I required to write a positive review.
Sarah Parsons helps female entrepreneurs and creatives get out of their own way, so they can run their businesses, not the other way around. A project manager, problem solver and simplifier, Sarah can be found at sarahparsons.me (when she’s not on train adventures with her boys, that is.)