October 14, 2015 | By Jackie Luskey | No Comments

Nature Outings in the Tualatin Valley

What would you rather hear: the honking of cars or the honking of birds? We’re pretty sure you chose the latter, which is why any Portland trip should be followed by a few days extra in the Tualatin Valley. Nature lovers—much like the birds they watch—flock to our amazing wetlands, nature refuges and parks. The pristine scene welcomes the calming chirps, gurgles and whistles of autumn’s inhabitants.


Jackson Bottom WetlandsCatch fall sunrises at Hillsboro’s Jackson Bottom Wetlands.
photo: John Wise

Just a short drive from Portland, you can enter a bird (and birder) paradise at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in Hillsboro. The birding here is so good that the preserve even offers a downloadable Bird Species Checklist (PDF), as well as special events led by park naturalists. Next up is the Fall Moonrise Watch (October 27; 5:15 p.m.) where experts point out how the landscape and critters quickly adapts from day to night. Close to Halloween, the Night-time Walkabout (October 29; 6 p.m.) offers an eerie and beautiful evening walk. While no goblins will come out of the woodwork, you may see some nocturnal creatures creep across the trail.

If you’ve got a nature-loving kid, then the family friendly Newt Day is an amazing annual event at the Tualatin Hills Nature Center (November 7; noon to 4 p.m.). Naturalists will point out some of the park’s cutest amphibians, sharing information on their life cycles and habits in the forest.

For more information about these nature locations, as well as the skinny on other great wildlife watching spots, get your hands on our Nature Passport.  The free guide will lead you to some of the Tualatin Valley’s best wildlife watching viewpoints.

Of course, you can’t sleep where the birds sleep. Instead, book a room at one of our charming lodging options in order to get a good night’s rest and be near the action. The Century Hotel overlooks the serene Lake of the Commons. The McMenamins Grand Lodge hosts an impressive garden and is an easy drive to some of the area’s most beautiful nature spots. The Orenco Hotel is homey, yet luxurious, with great MAX accessibility.

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