Best Outdoor Education & Forest Schools In Oregon 2023

Oregon boasts gorgeous temperate rainforests, high desert plateaus, volcanic canyons, snow-capped mountains, and sparkling lakes and rivers.

From central Oregon, it’s only 3-4 hours to any major attraction, and you can experience several microclimates in one day. The state is famous for its natural beauty and the biodiversity enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts all over the state. 

With its beautiful natural settings, there are many outdoor education schools across Oregon. Whether you’re looking for an overnight trip for students or enrolling your child in a class to learn the basics of camping and hiking, these are some of the best schools.

oregon outdoor schools

1. Portland Audubon Outdoor School

Location: 5151 NW Cornell Rd, Portland, OR 97210

Phone: 503-292-6855

Grades: Any

The Portland Audubon Outdoor School is a 25-year staple of the Portland area. Located amongst the trees and meadows of a 91-acre wildlife preserve just outside of Sandy, this outdoor school has shaped the outdoor education landscape of more than a couple of generations as they learn about the ecosystems of the neighboring Bull Run Watershed. 

Between the ADA-compliant facilities in Marmot Cabin and the two 30ft yurts, this science school can host up to 60 students for a traditional 4-5 day outdoor school experience. Kids have access to outdoor experts while learning about animal adaptations, ecology, and the ethnobotany of the region.  

Youth participate in hands-on outdoor activities in one of their overnight camps, day programs for field trips, and week-long school experience. They can explore their wildlife sanctuary and other nearby natural areas to learn about the plants and animals that live there. 

2. Klamath Outdoor Science School

Location: 707 Cypress Ave, Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Phone: 541-850-8218

Grades: 3rd-12th

Born from a grassroots movement to help children connect with the earth, Klamath Outdoor Science School focuses on creating a unique outdoor education experience to share the staff’s love for the Earth with students of all ages. 

The Klamath Outdoor School campus is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching students critical thinking and encouraging curiosity through hands-on involvement with nature. Further, staff and volunteers passionately work with students to understand the importance of conservation and natural resource management in the region. 

The primary campus for KOSS is located in the Sun Pass State Forest, where students and chaperones can be hosted and educated. School facilitators can also set up 2-4 day overnight camps in other regional locations to accommodate the needs of your students. Each camp caters to the age and education level of the students attending to ensure they learn new skills and ideas within Oregon State Science Standards. 

Klamath Outdoor School offers three types of school programs, including a residential outdoor school where kids can stay overnight. Day programs during all seasons, perfect for school field trips. For those who don’t have the means to transport all the kids, their instructors can come to your school and share their knowledge.  

3. Coyle Outside

Location: 245 SW Cummings Ave, Corvallis, OR 97333

Phone: 541-760-0774

Grades: 1st-9th

Based in Corvallis, OR, Coyle Outside is one of only a handful of programs that bring your students outside. The staff on the Coyle Outside team develop curriculum and activities that meet or exceed the Oregon State Science Standards and cater to the current seasonal happenings in your region. 

With Coyle Outdoor, you can work with their coordinators to schedule and book a venue for your student’s overnight experience. Teachers have input in the lessons, experiences students participate in, and the discussions you can have after each activity to drive the lessons home. Students learn about the region’s plants, animals, and ecological interactions and essential survival skills like building shelter, sourcing potable water, and more. 

Homeschool groups can also employ their guides to come and teach your kids. They aim to encourage children to take risks, learn through adversity and become better versions of themselves. 

4. Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

Location: 721 NW 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

Phone: 503-892-2782

Grades: 5th-12th

Nature is the best classroom to nurture curiosity and experiential learning. With Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, children get their hands dirty and cultivate a connection with the wonders of the natural world. The instructors at the school facility teach their passions and share their knowledge on environmental science. 

Recently, a rebuilding initiative has moved the leading education centers out of the primary education facility. Still, they’ve partnered with several parks in the Portland and Salem areas to share knowledge in the interim. They currently offer day camps for kids and backpacking expeditions for those of all ages.

They offer programs in different cities, including Sandy, OR, and Gresham, OR. Certain schools can receive funding through Oregon’s Outdoor School for All Campaign. Through their programs, children can increase their self-confidence and learn vital outdoor skills. 

5. Wy’East Academy

Location: 59550 US-26, Sandy, OR 97055

Phone: 503-622-8931

Grades: 7th-12th

Oregon is filled with a rich indigenous history, and Wy’East is the original tribal name for Mt. Hood. The Wy’East Mountain Academy, which sits on the slopes of Wy’East, combines outdoor sports with educational opportunities for students ages 12-19. Their campus and facilities consist of an indoor skate park, ski areas, biking trails, rock climbing walls, and a lot more.  

Wy’East Academy is host to athletic training facilities in sports and activities ranging from snowboarding to mountain biking and everything in between. Students can earn transferable credits for their high school or college of choice. 

There are semester programs during the fall, winter, and summer seasons. The hearts and minds behind Wy’East Academy believe that teaching youth to be passionate, curious, and think critically can help them find their place in the world and improve it.

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