Natural Features in Portland

Natural Features Portland

Looking for a break from the city? Check out some natural features Portland has to offer!

Major cities don’t usually have large swaths of natural environments to break up the busy urban lifestyle. Except for some occasions like Central Park in the Big Apple, cities are for city life, and nature is relegated to the outskirts. While Portland has plenty of parks at its edges, it sets itself apart from other cities with a population of over half a million with plenty of natural features integrated between the buildings. These buildings are kept pristine by quality local companies like Dr. Roof Inc, but Portland is much more than an urban metropolis. With wetlands, forests, a nature conservancy, and more, spend the daylight at the natural features in Portland, then retreat to the local shops for the nightlife and have a little bit of everything!


Don’t rush through the Audubon Society of Portland

While the Audubon Society of Portland might sound like a breathtaking speedway, you won’t find any German cars maxing out their speedometers at this non-profit organization. The only high-speed chase you’ll find here is the rush of Bald Eagle swooping over its prey.

Birdwatchers spy on birds while people-watchers spy on them

Named after famed ornithologist John James Audubon, who studied and documented dozens of American bird species, the Audubon Society of Portland is primarily a place to go for birdwatchers. With a history of over 100 years, people come from all over to see both rare and common birds in the 150-acre nature preserve.

  • Bald Eagles may be on display at the Oregon Zoo, but seeing them in a simulated environment is nothing compared to witnessing them in nature.
  • An online rare bird alert is updated daily so bird enthusiasts can see where the rarest of the rare have been recently spotted so they can hopefully see it themselves.
  • Watch the Vaux’s Swifts Roost in late summer during their migration to Venezuela and Central America at Chapman Elementary School. They come each year like clockwork!

Not sure what flying fowl sped past you?

Touting over 200 bird species that come through the Portland Metro area each year, how is a young hatchling to tell the difference between a White-crowned Sparrow and Song Sparrow on the Aubudon’s vast landscape? You don’t have to be a bird expert or memorize every distinct streak, behavior, and sound of each of the birds in the region. Instead, The Audubon Society of Portland created an online local bird guide (Not just for kids!) featuring backyard birds and “Raptors”. Clicking on the pictures leads to whole new categories of birds, and clicking from this new page brings you to a particular species’ profile. This profile has everything from sound and shape and scientific name to available downloads of songs and calls so you can narrow down what it is you’re looking at.

Birds not your thing?

You might be better served exploring a local shop and eating a renowned local burger instead of going to The Audubon Society! If you’re set on coming, there are miles of trails to explore in a natural environment to walk on. And maybe seeing all of the different species will end up giving you a new appreciation for the birds urban and rural alike!


Experiment with a hike at Tryon Creek State Natural Area

While Tryon Creek State Natural Area isn’t a place to check out that new leather jacket you’ve had your eye on, there’s plenty of nature to see. With trails for hiking, horses, and bikes, this ADA accessible state park has something for everyone. Only 15 minutes from the heart of downtown Portland, this is the only state park in a major metropolitan area in the entire state!

Try a hike!

8 miles of hiking trails means you’ll be hard-pressed to see everything on a single day-trip.  And if that’s all you do at Tryon Creek, you’ll be missing out on a lot of new things to try! But with eight bridges and a wetland boardwalk through over a square mile of land, it’s easy for time to fly by in this natural haven.

Try the Nature Center!

If you stop by the state park, make sure to try out the dedicated nature center while you’re there. With exhibits both professional and from the Friends of Tryon Park, take a few minutes to learn about the area and use the indoor restrooms while you have the chance!


Stop by the Forest; Whitaker Ponds Nature Park has trees galore!

While you’re unlikely to find an Academy Award or Golden Globe recipient at Whitaker Ponds Nature Park, you’ll feel like a winner after spending the day walking the trails,  visiting the nature areas or marveling at the water features.

Take a canoe out from Whitaker Slough

With an observation dock and canoe launch going straight into Whitaker Slough, take it slow as you gently row near the black cottonwood forests. With the reintroduction of native plants and animals over the last decade, the region continues to revert back to its former beauty a little more each year.

Compete at the local baseball field

Battle for the championship during a company retreat with an intense game of baseball–or laid-back game of softball–at the park’s baseball field. After the closing of the last inning, have a picnic or walk on the short 1/2 mile trail to close out the day.

Don’t eat here after midnight!

While the park has a definitive closing time of midnight, dusk is the unofficial end of the day for the park. Beware of staying out at night with your car inside the gates due to the self-closing vehicle gate that has been known to close without warning, and leave with some daylight to spare–and make sure to clean up after yourself when you do!

Directions from Whitaker Ponds Nature Park to Dr. Roof Inc

Whitaker Ponds Nature Park
7040 NE 47th Ave, Portland, OR 97218

Head west on Ne Buffalo St toward NE 47th Ave
1 min (0.1 mi)

Drive along NE 42nd Ave
9 min (2.4 mi)

Take NE 38th Ave to NE Sandy Blvd
4 min (0.8 mi)

Take I-84 W/US-30 W to SW 3rd Ave
5 min (3.1 mi)

Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto SW 3rd Ave
1 min (0.2 mi)

Dr Roof Inc
818 SW 3rd Ave #1435, Portland, OR 97204