Nature Play Areas

Westmoreland Park (Michael Barton) (1)

Westmoreland Park Nature Play Area

Portland has a wealth of nature play areas and playgrounds with nature play elements. Instead of plastic or metal play structures, which essentially determine kid’s play to specific actions, natural elements – boulders, logs, sand pits (with or without running water available), loose parts, unique climbing structures, and more provide kids the opportunity to define their play, be more physically active, and use their imaginations. This list includes the publicly-accessible nature play opportunities (besides just simply playing in the woods!) I am aware of in the Portland metro area. If you know of any I’ve missed or know about new projects, please comment below!

Current nature play areas or parks/schools with nature play elements:
Astor K-8 School (North Portland)
Blue Lake Regional Park (Fairview)
Camille Park (Beaverton)
Cascade Park (Vancouver, WA)
Champoeg State Park
Childswork Learning Center (SE Portland)
Cooper Mountain Nature Park (Beaverton)
Early Childhood Center – Mt Hood Community College (Troutdale)
Engleman Park (Wilsonville)
Hawthorne Park (Southgate)
Hood View Park (Happy Valley)
Human Solutions (SE Portland)
Hyland Woods Natural Area (Beaverton)
Ibach Park (Tualatin)
Jorgenson Woods Neighborhood Park (Vancouver, WA)
Jurgens Park (Tualatin)
Kʰunamokwst Park (NE Portland)
Legion Park (Woodburn)
LeRoy Haagen Memorial Park (Vancouver, WA)
Lewis Elementary School (SE Portland)
Magnolia Meadows Park (Hillsboro)
Marshall Community Park (Vancouver, WA)
Marshall Park (SW Portland)
Meriwether Lewis Elementary School (SE Portland)
Nadaka Nature Park (Gresham)Orenco Woods Nature Park (Hillsboro)
Outdoor Adventure at the Portland Children’s Museum (SW Portland)
Pioneer Park (Beaverton)
Pioneer Park (Clackamas)
Roger Tilbury Memorial Park (Cedar Mill)
Sabin Elementary School (NE Portland, public welcome to play)
Schaad Park (Newburg)
Silver Falls State Park, North Canyon Nature Play Area (Sublimity, east of Salem)
Spring Garden Park (SW Portland) – new park redevelopment beginning Summer 2017
Trillium Creek Park (Damascus)
Tualatin Community Park (Tualatin)
Westmoreland Nature Play Area (SE Portland)

In development or possible future projects:
Astor Elementary School (North Portland)
Balfour Park (Milwaukie)
Bull Mountain Park (Tigard) – Nature Play in Urban Areas
Cornell Creek Park (Hillsboro)
Couch Park (NW Portland)
Cully Park (NE Portland)
Dirksen Nature Park (Tigard)
Franciscan Montessori Earth School’s Nature Play Earth Path (SE Portland)
Gateway Discovery Park (NE Portland)
Gateway Green (NE Portland)
Glencoe Elementary (SE Portland)
Filbert Run Park (Oregon City)
French American International School (NW Portland)
Iron Mountain Park (Lake Oswego)
Lent K-8 School (SE Portland)
Loowit View Park (NE Portland)
Newell Creek Canyon (Oregon City)
Oxbow Regional Park (near Gresham)
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (Ridgefield, WA)
Rieke Elementary (SW Portland)
Summer Creek Park (Tigard)
Villebois-Montague Park (Wilsonville)
Waterfront Park (Washougal, WA) – help name the Sasquatch statue
Whitaker Ponds Nature Park (NE Portland)
White Oak Savanna (West Linn)
Wild Lilac Child Development Center (SE Portland)

Resources:
SLOW: Children at Nature Play signs (a project of mine)
The All-Natural Playground (article by me for Metro Parent, April 2015)
Green Hearts: Nature Play
GreenWorks (Portland)
Learning Landscapes Design (Portland)
Nature Play Area Guidelines (THPRD)
Nature Play in the Portland area (guest post on this blog)
Natural Learning Initiative
Nature Play & Learning Spaces (NWF; PDF download)
The Nature Play Continuum (LandCurrent in Eugene, OR)
Oregon Natural Play Initiative
What is Nature Play? (NWF)
What is Nature Play? (Vancouver Parks & Recreation)