Oregon: Where amazing forests grow and entertain us

Oregon White Oak at the Oregon Garden

There’s a lot to do outdoors this summer.

Snuggled up among the roots of a 200-year-old oak tree last week, my kids and I tapped our toes along with the film “Happy Feet” at The Oregon Garden’s outdoor amphitheater. The film’s main characters are penguins and, of course, are not native to Oregon, but the state’s forests were also part of the evening’s entertainment.

Before the movie began, we were treated to a spectacular preview: The summer sun set over the garden’s grove of majestic Oregon white oak trees. This grove began growing before Lewis and Clark first explored Oregon. In the trees we could see holes drilled by busy acorn woodpeckers storing nuts for a winter meal. When I pointed them out to the 8-year-old next to me, his comment was, “Winter! But I thought the summer just started?”

I couldn’t argue. The sun has finally arrived and it is time for outdoor entertainment.

Summer is the season of county fairs, outdoor concerts, campfires and nights of stargazing. We love our forests, rivers, lakes, wildlife and fresh air. And this time of year, we can have it all.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area outside Portland hosts the Forest Music Concert Series. Be entertained by jazz bands or Irish musicians while surrounded by a native forest. Concerts are free and take place every Saturday night through August 18.

In the mountains outside Tillamook during early August, you can hear the music of early settlers. The Tillamook Forest Center will host an open jam session August 5, celebrating the country-folk-bluegrass music of early settlers and homesteaders. Bring the family for free entertainment, or bring your instrument and be part of the entertainment.

Want to combine forests, music and movies this summer? The Collier Memorial State Park north of Klamath Falls features bluegrass, an outdoor logging museum and a pioneer village. You can camp under the ponderosa pine trees along the Williamson River, and on weekend evenings watch movies about old-time logging.

Like to view the night sky? Lunar events are tracked regularly at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. This new park, about 30 miles west of Portland, offers 20 miles of trails for trekking through 1,673 acres of forests. The park also provides an 18-hole disc golf course for something to do before the nighttime show.

OFRI’s new website, OregonForests.org provides a Get-Outside-and-Experience section. The forest tours page links you to tours offered around the state. For instance, each Wednesday afternoon in Corvallis, you can get on a bus and enjoy an insightful tour by Starker Forests.

Let the outdoors be your entertainment this summer, just as my kids and I did when we went to The Oregon Garden to play in the sand and look for squirrels in the Rediscovery Forest. Catch the next movie; there’s one each Thursday through August 23. And there are plenty of seats among the oak trees.

Julie Woodward
OFRI Forest Education Program Manager


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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