Frequently Asked Questions

March 2006

What is the Tillamook Forest Center?

The Tillamook Forest Center is a special place to develop a deeper connection with Oregon’s forests through experience and exploration. Located in the Tillamook State Forest, the region’s newest interpretive and educational center showcases the legacy of the historic Tillamook Burn and the public spirit behind a monumental reforestation effort that left a permanent mark on Oregon history and helped shape sustainable forest management today. The Center is the region’s largest forest-based learning center and outdoor classroom facility.

Where is it located?

The Tillamook Forest Center is located along the Wilson River Highway (Highway 6) in the heart of the Tillamook State Forest in an area known as Jones Creek, an hour’s drive west of downtown Portland. Directly across the river (linked by suspension bridge from the center itself) are the popular Jones Creek Campground and Day Use Area and the Wilson River Trailhead. The Smith Homestead Day Use Area is a two minute walk to the east. The center is 22 miles east of Tillamook and about 50 miles west of Portland.

When is the Center open?

Operating hours change seasonally. Click here for specific information.

What does it offer?

The 13,500 square-foot Tillamook Forest Center is a fun, safe place to share the lessons of the past and the promise of the future while discovering the dynamic nature of forests in a comfortable, year-round, indoor/outdoor environment. Through innovative programs and hands-on exhibits, visitors can gain a greater understanding about what a forest is and how it works, and how people have shaped, and in turn been shaped by the Tillamook Forest.

A careful look at the Center’s wood and glass structure reveals reflections of the past. Unique design elements include a replica of a fire lookout tower, a dramatic pedestrian suspension bridge across the Wilson River, and a roofline reminiscent of early homesteads and forest camps.

Inside the award-winning building, exhibits will:

  • Recreate a sense of the original pre-Burn Coast Range forest.
  • Share stories of life in the forest, from the Tillamook Indians and early homesteaders and explorers, to the people who enjoy it today.
  • Portray the tragedy of the fires, the remarkable salvage efforts undertaken, and the determination and public spirit that led to the successful reforestation.
  • Put the visitor in the role of natural resource decision-maker to understand the ramifications of forest management choices and the importance of forests to our lives.

Outside the building, visitors can explore:

  • A 40-foot tall functional fire lookout tower that offers a unique view of the area and the surrounding forest canopy.
  • A 250-foot long suspension bridge over the Wilson River that ties into the Wilson River Trail system and nearby Jones Creek Campground, and offers excellent salmon watching opportunities.
  • A system of themed interpretive trails that lead from the building, through the woods and along the river, providing insight into the past, present and future of the forest.
  • A demonstration forest that illustrates a variety of forest types found in the Tillamook and showcases sustainable forest manageme
  • Adjacent to the Center is the Smith Homestead Day Use Area and Forest Learning Shelter, an attractive riverside gathering area near the first homestead on the upper Wilson River.
How is the Tillamook Forest Center unique compared to other area centers?
No other place in Oregon or the Northwest provides the same kind of forest-based learning opportunities found at the Tillamook Forest Center. The center is notable for its focus on forest history, on the power of wildfire, and on the art and science of sustainable forest management today. Because it features one of Oregon’s hallmark environmental success stories, and its welcoming and comfortable surroundings, the Center will be a must-see attraction for visitors.
As a result of their experiences at the Center, visitors will come away with their own personal knowledge of forests in general, the Tillamook Forest in particular, and about how our lives are connected with forests. Visitors can apply that knowledge-and be inspired by it-to further exploration and understanding.
Admission to the Center is free.
The Oregon Department of Forestry hopes the Tillamook Forest Center will, by its nature and its location, become a venue and focal point for community life and identity for the interior North Coast region, specifically for Tillamook and western Washington counties. The Center will serve as a hub of forest recreation in the Tillamook State Forest and be a gateway to Tillamook County.
Sustainable site design and construction is a hallmark of the Center. In 2000, the Master Plan received the Award of Excellence for Landscape Planning and Analysis from the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the highest professional achievement award made by this group. The biennial award recognizes projects that improve the relationship of people to their environment.
What else can I do in the area?

If it has to do with being in the forest, you’re in luck. The Tillamook State Forest offers camping, hiking, picnicking, off-highway vehicle riding, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, swimming, birdwatching, geocaching, berry picking, mushroom hunting, firewood cutting. And that’s all within a mile or less from the Center. Check out the opportunities close to the Center.

If you’re headed west, you’re only a few miles from the beach, the Tillamook Cheese Factory, theTillamook Air Museum and lots of other great attractions at the Oregon Coast.

If you’re headed east toward Portland and the Willamette Valley, you’ll be a stone’s throw from the Banks-Vernonia Linear Trail, Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, Evergreen Aviation Museum, the World Foresty Center, Oregon Zoo, Portland Children's Museum, and plenty of great wineries, in Oregon's storied wine country.