Top 20 Portland Oregon attractions

World Forestry Center

The World Forestry Center has two floors of exhibits about forest management, with lots of hands-on experiences.

It's 10 minutes from downtown Portland in Washington Park, just across from the Oregon Zoo.

Washington Park gets very busy in summer and the parking lots fill up, so take the MAX light rail from downtown Portland. The Washington Park Station is just steps from the World Forestry Center.

The World Forestry Center is perfect for all ages, with fun experiences, like riding the parachute jumping simulator, peering through a tree camera, or riding rapids on a river raft.

There are plenty of fun and interactive exhibits on the lower floor, explaining sustainable forest management in Oregon and Washington State. The second floor of the World Forestry Center is focused on forest management in other parts of the world, like China, Russia, Africa and South America. 

Check hours & tickets (4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221).

5 best things about the World Forestry Center

1. Do you know who owns all the Pacific Northwest forests?

Look around you. When you're driving around Oregon or Washington State, do you know who owns these forests?

It's fascinating to learn that 80% of forests in the Pacific Northwest are Private Timberlands, defined as timber producing forests that can grow and harvest timber (pale green on the map below).  The next biggest landholder is the State and County Lands (orange), followed by the Tribal Forest Lands (lime green), and finally National Parks or Monuments (olive green). Talk about a lot of competing land interests!

The World Forestry Center has a 10-minute movie in the cinema, and lots of great exhibits to explain the key stakeholders, and how to best manage forests for future generations.

2. Ride the fun parachute jumping simulator!

Strap yourself into a harness, and ride the parachute jumping simulator at the World Forestry Center!

Learn how brave Smokejumpers parachute into the heart of fires in rugged wilderness terrain.  These trained firefighters are employed by the Federal Government, and provide the first line of defense in a forest fire. They stop fires before they spread by using chainsaws or hand tools to clear a gap in vegetation, otherwise known as a fire break.

Smokejumpers have been around since the 1930s, but because fires are even more ferocious today, their job is increasingly risky.

During World War II, Smokejumpers in Oregon and Washington State were sent out to extinguish forest fires caused by massive 30 foot Japanese Balloon bombs floated over the gulf stream. They were launched 6,000 miles away on beaches in Japan!
3. See how the US Forest Service starts fires to thin out vegetation.
The US Forest Service prevents more catastrophic fires, by introducing controlled fires to thin out overstocked stands and prevent fuel from building up. This mimics the natural cycle, where for tens of thousands of years, natural fires have always ravaged the Pacific Northwest, clearing out the undergrowth and brush.

4. Which Pacific Northwest tree creates the most products in the world?

Do you know which Pacific Northwest tree furnishes the most global products?  Can you name the trees that provides the best wood for furniture, decking, newsprint or paper products? The World Forestry Center has an informative guide that answers all these questions!

You'll learn that the Douglas-fir furnishes more products for human use than other tree in the world, that Western Red Cedar is great for decks and fences, and the Ponderosa Pine is perfect for furniture. So there you have it!

5. Ride the fun Canopy Lift all the way to the top.
If you're not scared of heights, ride all the way to the top of the Canopy, for a bird's eye view of the World Forestry Center!  Tickets can be purchased at admissions.
Know before you go 
  • Hours & admission: Check here.  
  • Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221 (in Washington Park).

Take the train to the Washington Park station, just steps from the World Forestry Center.

Other fun things to do in Washington Park
Visit the Oregon Zoo adjacent to the World Forestry Center, or drive or take the 5 minute park shuttle in summer to the Portland Japanese Garden and  International Rose Test Garden.  

More Museums in Portland Oregon

Review this attraction