Salem Parks and Gardens

(Salem, Oregon - OR, USA)

The residents of Salem are able to make use of innumerable green spaces, public gardens, state parklands, sports fields, children's playgrounds and recreational areas around the city, all through the year. However, things weren't always this green and over the past few decades, much has improved in terms of local recreation.

In the middle of the 20th century, Oregon's state capital owned less than ten actual parks, which together covered little more than 40 hectares / 100 acres in total. Today, Salem is called home by close to 50 parks, spreading over more than 600 hectares / 1,500 acres and often being conveniently located within busy neighborhoods.

There are also numerous trails suitable for walking and jogging, as well as cycling. These trails stretch for more than 30 miles / 48 km and take in some truly beautiful scenery, frequently running alongside the Willamette River.

General Information

Particularly notable and located on Front Street Northeast, the Riverfront City Park stands next to the A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village attraction and within historic downtown Salem. This riverside parkland is a popular haunt of local families, since there is much here to entertain children.

Highlights include a beautiful traditional carousel ride, a playground and the chance to hire bicycles, along with the occasional funfair during the summer season. The US Willamette Queen Sternwheeler regularly docks here and offers lunchtime cruises for those wishing to sightsee and enjoy a bite to eat at the same time.

Lying on the southwestern side of Salem, the Minto Brown Island Park is approximately a ten-minute drive from the city center, via Commercial Street Southeast, Owens Street South and River Road South. At almost 360 hectares / 900 acres in size, this is certainly a huge asset of the city. There are woodland areas, nature trails, pathways for jogging and rollerblading, picnic areas with grilling facilities and dedicated dog areas, although first-time visitors generally find that the signage is a little inadequate.

Just under 30 minutes north of Salem city center is the expansive and rather important Willamette Mission State Park, which stands on Wheatland Road Northeast and is known for being the spot where a mission for Native American Indians was established in the 1830s. It is possible to see where the original mission buildings once stood, while a monument provides information about this historical settlement.

Back in downtown Salem, Bush's Pasture Park measures in at some 35 hectares / 90 acres and is a great place where children can let off steam. Playgrounds, playing fields and tennis courts are accompanied by landscaped gardens, mature orchards and shady areas perfect for picnicking. Willamette University's McCulloch Stadium is located onsite, as is the John Lewis Baseball Field.

If you are visiting Salem and keen to see some native Oregon wildlife in situ, then consider a visit to either the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (17 miles / 27 km south) or the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge (13 miles / 21 km west). Alternatively, if you are here in the summer season, then why not wander on down to the Keizer Rapids Park and check out one of the frequent concerts staged at its open-air Keizer Rotary Amphitheater between late June and the middle of September.