In Portland, OR the Great Outdoors Is Way of Life
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Adkins
Portland is natural paradise, blessed with 37,000 acres of green space, scenic rivers, towering Mount Hood as a backdrop and the Pacific coastline nearby. Whether kayaking, windsurfing, cycling or simply a quiet afternoon tossing a Frisbee with the kids in a neighborhood park, residents find a way to bond with nature. The area boasts more than 40 18-hole golf courses and scores of tennis courts. Organized sports like soccer are mainstays for young and old alike. And increasingly, non-motorized, environmentally respectful recreation is the trend.
Columbia River Gorge
Perhaps no place is as cherished by local outdoor lovers as the Columbia River Gorge. Eighty-five miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep, the gorge cuts through the Cascades – acclaimed as the only mountain range in the world with a major river coursing through its heart. The gorge is home to more than 800 species of wildflowers and the largest concentration of waterfalls in North America. It makes for spectacular scenery – and world-class places to have fun and enjoy a more intimate relationship with the natural world.
Kayakers from as far away as Texas, Massachusetts, Japan and Vietnam flock to Portland to paddle their way through western Oregon’s stunningly beautiful estuary systems. These days, though, the majority of kayakers are area residents – people showing up with kayaks on their car roofs. The economy has increased the popularity of “staycations” as well as an emphasis on finding low-impact ways to connect to nature.
Interest in other outdoor recreational opportunities also is increasing, with bicycling and mountain biking topping the list, as anyone who has traveled local roads can attest. Portland is dotted with bike paths, from shady trails in Forest Park to cardiac challenges such as the ascent of Powell Butte.
The city’s environmental consciousness is evident in a myriad of parks and green spaces as well as an assortment of impressive gardens, including the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, and renowned rose and rhododendron gardens. Portland Parks and Recreation staff and community volunteers also cultivate 30 community gardens throughout the city, with vegetables, herbs, flowers and small fruit plants.
For those who prefer their weather cold and crisp, there’s still more good news: Year-round skiing is just an hour away at Mount Hood.
Check out more on the outdoors in Portland, OR.