While the state colors may be navy blue and gold, the state of Oregon is abundantly green. Green with nature that is. In fact, Portland alone has 12591 acres of public parkland and open space 10000 of which are owned and managed by Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R). Those 10000 acres include 6 public gardens, 25 community gardens, 35 community parks, 5 golf courses, 47 habitat parks, 98 neighborhood parks, 12 regional parks, 12 urban parks and thousands of acres of urban forest. In addition, Oregon’s parks total a whopping 153 State Parks, 7 State Forests, 7 State Fish Hatcheries, 4 State Natural Areas, 1 State Wildlife Management Area, 1 National Park, 16 National Forests, 1 National Memorial, 1 National Historic Site and 19 National Wildlife Refuges. And that’s not even all of it. Here’s a walk through some of Portland parks.
Mt. Tabor Park
SE Salmon Way
Portland OR 97215
A volcanic cinder cone housing two open water reservoirs amidst its 190 acres of recreational quietude Mt. Tabor is the quickest way to escape the busy streets of Portland. Additionally, the park is dog, child and even go-kart-friendly. Check out the PDX Adult Soap Box Derby at www.soapboxracer.com. Mt. Tabor has just about everything you might need for a fun day at the park including pavilions picnic tables basketball and tennis courts and horseshoe pits. It even has a bronze statue of Harvey W. Scott editor of The Oregonian newspaper from 1865-1872.
1715 SW Skyline Boulevard
Portland OR 97221
Just minutes from downtown this 400-acre oasis of trees, gardens, playgrounds and trails is a must-see. Home to the Portland Children’s Museum, the Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, World Forestry Center Discovery Museum and the International Rose Test Garden (recipient of the Garden of Excellence Award from the World Federation of Rose Societies in 2006) there’s something for everyone.
Portland OR 97231
Cradling downtown Portland, in the Tualatin Mountains (known to locals as “The West Hills”), Forest Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Consisting of second-growth and old growth forest the park’s more than 5100 acres are connected by a network of trails suitable for hiking mountain biking and horseback riding. The longest trail the Wildwood Trail runs 27 miles from one end of the park to the other.
Mill Ends Park
SW Taylor Street
Portland OR 97204
Deemed the smallest park in the world by the Guinness Book of Records in 1971, Mill Ends Park is only 2 feet in diameter and 452 square inches in total area. You might think that the park’s charm is helping to Keep Portland Weird as the bumper stickers say, and you’d be right. However, we haven’t even told you about the park’s history with Leprechauns yet.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Cascade Locks OR 97014
Whoever came up with Virginia’s slogan “Virginia is for Lovers” obviously hadn’t been to the Columbia River Gorge. A national scenic area encompassing some 292500 acres of waterfall wonder straddling Washington and Oregon, this wellspring of natural delight has a definite romantic quality. As evidenced by the sheer number of weddings that are held at Multnomah Falls each year. It could be all the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge with 77 of them on the Oregon side. Picnicking, kayaking, rafting, fishing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, camping and mountain biking are just some of the activities available throughout this majestic area. Notable landmarks include The Vista House at Crown Point, Rooster Rock, Horse Tail Pony Tail and Bridal Veil Falls.
Ecola State Park
84318 Ecola State Park Road
Cannon Beach OR 97110
Just north of Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park stands out among the 363 miles of the Oregon coast. This nine mile chunk of coastline is situated around Tillamook Head, a forested lookout and offers breathtaking views of the coastline in both directions. You can’t miss Haystack Rock to the south a landmark for sailors as well as moviegoers. In fact, is was featured in the Goonies.
Smith Rock State Park
Terrebonne OR 97760
Ushering in the eastern desert of Oregon Smith Rock features some of the toughest rock climbing in the world. It’s here that the first 5.14 grade climb was completed. Including 3000 feet in elevation and with over 650 acres of rugged autumn-colored hues of rock, Smith Rock State Park is also a great spot for mountain biking fishing and camping. And if the whole climbing thing scares you don’t worry there’s plenty of hiking trails in the area even for beginners.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Kimberly OR 97848
Explore the prehistoric past of the Cenozoic era in three separate parks within this national and natural monument. Preserving bones from 30 million years ago via volcanic eruptions these bright and picturesque hills and rock formations are a paleontologist’s dream come true. With scenic drives hiking and exhibits at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center lab, the John Day Fossil Beds will do anything but put you to sleep. Camping is available in the close by Ochoco national forest.
Silver Falls State Park
State Park Street
Silverton OR 97381
Called by some the “crown jewel” of Oregon parks, Silver Falls proudly boasts the “Trail of Ten Falls”. A moderate 7.2 mile hike that allows you to walk behind a 177 ft. waterfall seeing and feeling what it’s like to look out from the other side. This 9200 acre sprawl in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades about 90 minutes from Portland is the largest state park in Oregon and is great for day-use as well as tent and RV camping.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake may be Oregon’s only national park, but as the deepest lake in the U.S. it’s all we need. As its name implies, this testament to natural beauty is a caldera lake a cauldron-like volcanic feature that looks like a crater on the moon’s surface. Located in south-central Oregon it’s known for its unsurpassed clarity and deep blue color as well as the panorama of snow-capped cliffs encircling it. A great setting for camping or if freezing all night isn’t your cup of tea the Crater Lake Lodge makes for an excellent getaway.