Portland is a city that takes both its art and its nature seriously and there are dozens of Portland parks scattered across the city that provide both features. These areas provide pockets of green space and outlets for healthy activity to Portland residents and visitors. From small lush spaces that give residents a brief respite amid busy days, to sprawling properties thick with hiking trails, river access and room to run, the parks of Portland are not to be missed.
Fortunately, the Portland Parks and Recreation department makes it easy to locate parks by geography, amenity, events, pet friendliness and more. Some sites, such as Portland’s famous Washington Park, contain multiple attractions and sub-parks within their boundaries. While this can initially be a little confusing for some visitors, it also creates opportunities to make the most of a visit. Places like the park can eliminate transportation time and hassles while allowing groups and families to easily satisfy parties where members want to do different things while visiting Portland.
Washington ParkHome to two gardens, a museum, the zoo and more, Washington Park is one-stop shopping for Portland adventure and excitement.
Forest ParkForest Park is a mountain escape only 10 miles from downtown Portland.
Mt. Tabor ParkSet in a former volcano cone, Mt. Tabor Park offers spectacular views and serves as a prime event venue for Portland.
Pittock Mansion AcresVisitors touring Pittock Mansion can share the original owners’ love of hiking and nature on the trails he left on the property grounds, now open to the public.
Sellwood Park and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife RefugeThe interconnected Sellwood Riverfront Park, Sellwood Park and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge create a huge stretch of nature and wildlife on the Willamette River for residents and visitors to enjoy year-round.
1. Washington Park
Washington Park is a 160-acre paradise in the heart of Portland. Within its sprawling bounds lie seven of the city’s most famous and popular attractions:
- The Oregon Zoo
- Portland Children’s Museum
- The World Forestry Center
- Hoyt Arboretum
- Portland Japanese Garden
- International Rose Test Garden
Washington Park in Portland also features an archery range, a children’s playground, a variety of memorials and statues, a soccer field, tennis courts and open park space for general use.
Located on its own TriMet and MAX stop, the park also has a dedicated shuttle which transfers visitors from the stop to the individual attractions within the park. During peak periods, the shuttle runs every 15 minutes for guest convenience. The park also aligns with local walking and biking paths for easy access. While there is limited parking available, visitors are encouraged to take public transportation or to walk or bike to the park whenever possible.
A Washington Park Portland map, real-time parking availability gauge, construction alerts and other up-to-the-minute tools are available on the park’s dedicated website to help visitors plan their trips and access attractions.
2. Forest Park
At over 5,000 acres, Portland’s Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the nation. Situated only 10 miles from central downtown Portland, the park runs along the side of the Tualatin Mountains and contains more than 80 miles of trails and forest roads for adventurers to explore. With epic views of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, the park is a great escape right in Portland’s backyard.Set aside as official park land in 1948, Forest Park is a long-standing local treasure. Currently, the park opens at 5 a.m. and remains open to the public until 10 p.m. daily. Pets are welcome as they remain leashed, which makes Forest Park a perfect place for the whole family. Hikers, bicyclers and equestrians are welcome throughout the park, but must stay on marked trails for their own safety and the safety of others.
Discovery Hikes are led by qualified local guides and run regularly to introduce Portland residents and visitors to the park’s charms. An All Trails Challenge, recently renamed “Miles for Forest Park” also encourages the public to become familiar with the park and take advantage of this precious resource.
3. Mt. Tabor Park
Opened as a park for public use in the early 1900s, Portland’s Mt. Tabor is set in a former volcanic cone that overlooks portions of the city. A favored venue for concerts, festivals and other large public events, the park is perhaps best known as the site of Portland’s annual Adult Soap Box Derby.
Comprehensive infrastructure upgrades in 2017 made the park fully ADA accessible and equipped to continue hosting these already well-attended events as their popularity grows. Other amenities include picnic areas, basketball and tennis courts, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits and playgrounds.
Dedicated off-leash spaces for pets and multiple hiking trails make the park an idea place for families with pets. Standard park hours are from 5 a.m. to midnight daily but, like Washington Park and other popular Portland event venues, the park’s hours and accessibility may change during events.
4. Pittock Mansion Acres
Pittock Mansion is a well-known landmark in Portland. A stately home left by one of Portland’s first citizens, it has been restored as a testament to local history. What many visitors and even residents may be less aware of are the beautiful grounds Henry Pittock left wild behind his home. Once a private expedition ground where he and his daughters hiked, the grounds are now open to the public.
Connected to the Wildwood National Recreation Trail, the Pittock Mansion acres trails are part of a more than 30 mile stretch of scenic trails that run from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington Park to Newberry Road. The Mansion Acres Park is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and there is no cost unless visitors wish to explore the Mansion museum, for which $10 admission applies.
5. Sellwood Park and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
In Portland’s Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood lie three interconnected parks: Sellwood Riverfront Park, Sellwood Park and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. At around 200 acres in total, these parks create a vast stretch of land dedicated to wildlife, nature and bringing the inherent beauty of the Pacific Northwest’s wilderness to the residents and visitors of Portland.
The Riverfront portion of the space provides access to the Willamette River for sportsmen and families. The Sellwood Park section offers all the standard amenities residents could ask for in a park space:
- Picnic spaces
- Baseball and football fields
- Basketball and tennis courts
- Horseshoe pits
- A children’s playground
- Soccer and softball fields
- Open space for informal group sports or pets.
Within the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, visitors will find trails and walking paths through scenic meadows, forested space and wetlands. Wildlife of all kinds abounds, making the area a center for nature enthusiasts of every stripe. A haven for rare and endangered species, the Refuge is home to more than 175 different types of bird, in addition to other wildlife.
Park hours for all three sections typically run from around 5 a.m. to midnight daily, though some variations may occur by season, during events or from other causes.