The history of Oregon skateboarding goes deep. Some would say that it started 30 years ago under the Burnside Bridge with a crew of DIY Portland skateboarders. It was on Halloween night of 1990, when a tight-knit group of friends, seeking a sheltered spot to skate, started unloading bags of concrete and building transitions to skate on the bridge columns.
In the process, these skaters spawned a skatepark building boom that continues to this day. The timing was fortuitous as one of the biggest impediments to public skateboard parks, liability, was also overcome allowing cities, including Portland, to move forward at full steam with funding and building skateparks.
In 1999, the coastal town of Lincoln City stepped up as one of the early adopters. The city’s Parks & Recreation Director asked local skaters what they wanted in a skatepark, the answer was resoundingly, “Burnside!” Portland native Mark Scott, one of the original Burnside builders, rounded up a group of friends including Mark Hubbard, Stefan Hauser and Sage Bolyard along with local skaters Jeff Kimbrough and Tavita Scanlan to build what would become the Lincoln City Skatepark. The park featured a rowdy layout of deep concrete bowls, an over-vert cradle and tons of transitions to link up. Upon completion, Thrasher Magazine, the bible of skateboarding, billed it as the “gnarliest” skatepark in America—this was a good thing.
This was the first paying gig for what would become Dreamland Skateparks, a concrete skatepark building company founded by Mark Scott in 2001. Dreamland essentially invented rideable ramps out of concrete and has taken this vision and changed the face of skateboarding across Oregon and all the way to Olympic park skateboarding, which will take place on smooth concrete transitions that can be traced right back to Burnside. Dreamland, now based out of Lincoln City, employing a staff of a dozen skaters-slash-concrete-artists, has built 35 public skateparks across Oregon, and more than 120 parks around the world. Scott, who is on-site for every park build, says of his 30-year career, “It’s been a blessing, I’m lucky, pouring concrete is almost as fun as skateboarding.”
Oregon’s skateparks are clearly built by skaters, but it’s also skateboarders putting in the work advocating for parks. Skaters For Portland Skateparks (SPS), has been advocating for public skateparks since 2001. Thanks to SPS, Portland Parks & Recreation Department adopted a Skatepark System Plan in 2005, which calls for 19 skateparks across the city. This forward-thinking plan led to Portland earning the moniker of the “The Skateboarding Capital of The World,” by The Wall Street Journal. Skateboard parks have since become integral to the ongoing Portland Parks & Recreation development plan thanks to early SPS advocacy.
This abundance of skateboard parks has led to a thriving skate culture across Oregon. In Portland alone, you’ll find numerous local skate brands, skate shops and skate events throughout the year. Cal’s Pharmacy on East Burnside and Cal Skate on NW 6th Ave. stand out as longtime Portland skate shops where you can support local skate brands including Fixer Skateboards, The Killing Floor Skateboards, Jivaro Wheels and Portland Wheel Co. Likewise, the indoor Commonwealth Skatepark and shop on SE 20th Ave. has been serving as a hub of local skate culture and events. You’ll find coaching and mentoring groups including those offered at the indoor, family-friendly Stronger Skatepark in the south Portland town of Milwaukie and Skate Like A Girl, a Portland non-profit dedicated to creating an inclusive community through skateboarding. Both offer kids and adult skate clinics and lessons, as well as camps including those for women and trans people.
Oregon’s bounty of exceptional concrete skateparks paired with our lively skate culture and welcoming vibe have cemented (excuse the pun) Oregon’s reputation as a skateboarding mecca. Let’s skate!
Where To Skate
Wondering where to skate? Who better to ask than Oregon skate legend Jamie Weller. In addition to decades spent building and skating Oregon parks, Weller is also the skate director of Seek Skateboard Camp, the premier destination summer skateboard camp as well as year-round skate academy. Here are 10 of his top picks across Oregon—transitions, skate plazas, combos and camps—it’s all here… and we’re just barely scratching the surface.
1. Burnside Skatepark, Portland
The Burnside skatepark continues to burn bright and evolve with the local skaters ongoing modifications and maintenance of the 9,000 square-foot concrete park under the bridge. Every skater should make the pilgrimage to at least lay eyes on the original DIY skatepark. In 2011, the crew secured 501c nonprofit status for the famed skatepark; these funds are used for upkeep including maintenance and trash removal. Consider donating if you plan to skate. Founder Mark Scott says, “Personally I skate Burnside during the day and I’d say for visitors to go and look and maybe skateboard, between 9:00am and 5:00pm.” It’s safe to say that after hours, the somewhat raw, core skateboard culture that founded this park has not been diluted. A planned structural overhaul of the aging Burnside Bridge has lent some uncertainty about the future of the park, but, according to Scott, the threat is not immediate and might only impact a small section of the park.
2. Lincoln City Skatepark, Lincoln City
There are four sections to the 41,000 square-foot LC skatepark. The original park was built by Dreamland in 1999 and dubbed “the gnarliest skatepark in America,” by Thrasher Magazine. The original park now connects to a gnarly downhill snake run that ends with a 13-foot-deep pocket with pool coping. Below the snake run is a flowing covered area that’s home to the cradle. Just east of the cradle is a goldfish shaped bowl with pool coping. The skate track is another monster that hips off of the other snake run and shoots you downhill with tons of speed with some options to blast some air or just zoom by and hit the big vert wall at the bottom. All of these phases are connected so you can skate it all. This park is a wild ride.
3. WJ Skatepark & Urban Plaza, Eugene
Eugene’s Parks and Recreation department opened the WJ park to the public in 2014. The 23,000-square-foot park is located under the I-105 bridge, making it one of the largest covered skateparks in the nation. This Dreamland skatepark features a flowing array of both street and transition skate terrain. Featuring a skate-able concrete ribbon just outside the deck of the mini-bowl that spines over to a nice flow bowl with several hips and a clam shell pocket with pool coping that puts you right into a nice vert deep end. This park has everything from a secluded kidney bowl to a mini snake run with brick stamps and river rock coping, a step up, pyramid hips, ledges, handrails and more.The park is also lit, which allows for late-night sessions until the park closes at 1:00 a.m.
4. Ed Benedict Skate Plaza, Portland
Ed Benedict is one of the rare skate plazas in Oregon, meaning it features more street-style skate features as opposed to transitions. The Portland Parks & Recreation skate plaza is located within the larger park setting, with 18,000 square-feet of ledges, edges, stairs, rails, and banks. Newline Skateparks designed this as one of the Northwest’s first green skateparks incorporating stormwater filtration features to minimize runoff.
5. Prineville Skatepark, Prineville
Crook County Parks and Recreation District unveiled the new 13,000 square-foot Prineville Skatepark in the summer of 2019 within the Ochoco Creek Park. This bad boy is another Dreamland park, and one of the most buzzed about new skate destinations. The front is a large flow area with pump bumps, steep banks, hips and quarter pipes. It has a nice handrail, bump to bar, and step-up features for the street skaters. In the middle of the park there’s a very friendly fun-shaped bowl with buttery hand poured coping. The back of the park is a ditch-like section with nice ledges and some quarter pipes with river rock coping. It’s adjacent to a dirt pump track and a kids playground with facilities—make a day of it.
6. Seek Northwest Skate Camp, Sandy
Seek is a private skate facility focused on campers, but it also offers plenty of opportunities for public access. This can be compared to the DisneyLand for skateboarders with vast indoor and outdoor parks in an idyllic wooded setting. The Concrete Jungle is the outside venue, featuring over 50,000 square-feet of skateable terrain. When the weather turns, head inside to the B.O.B. (building out back) which is the biggest indoor skatepark in the northwest, with over 12,500 square-feet of concrete features.
Summer camp sessions are a great option for kids, with either weeklong day camp or weeklong overnight camps. Seek also offers Relaunch Family skate on the second Saturday of every month, which allows facility access for a small fee. There’s also afterschool and weekend programs during the off-season. The camp even offers shuttle pick up from locations in Portland. Finally, there’s the Adult Campout, for adults 21and over. This 3-day all access skate-a-thon is scheduled for August 27–29, 2021.
7. Rockridge Skatepark, Bend
The 11,000 square-foot skatepark, built by Evergreen Skatepark builders, is located within a larger natural park setting, operated by the Bend Parks & Recreation Department with facilities. The park is described as having a “lunar-landscape” design, which translates into lots of pump bumps, hips and bowls. Expect crowds when the high school across the street lets out for the day.
8. Sister Skatepark, Sisters
The Sister’s Skatepark, built by Liquid Stone Designs, is located directly behind Sisters Parks & Recreation District’s headquarters. The park consists of three bowls with pool coping that are all connected with random skate features around the decks. The smaller flow bowl has a cradle in it that will loop you upside down. The brownish bowl with tile is pool-inspired with steep transitions, shallow end steps, a love seat, mimic light and death box. The last bowl, referred to simply as the big bowl, ranges from about six-to-10 feet deep.
9. Glenhaven Skatepark, Portland
This 11,000 square-foot Dreamland skatepark is part of Portland Parks & Recreation and is located within the greater sports and recreation complex. Glenhaven features a 5,500 square-foot street course and an additional 5,500 square-feet of transition area. The transition area includes a nine-foot-deep “peanut bowl” with a four-foot shallow end with stairs and a separate rectangular bowl. The street area includes hubba ledges, a stamped brick bank, banks, ledges and manual pads; as well as handrails, stairs, two pyramid hips, a quarter pipe, and two “dude chutes.”
10. Newberg (Chehalem) Skatepark, Newberg
This massive 30,000 square-foot concrete park was the second skatepark built by Dreamland and it has stood the test of time. This Chehalem Park & Recreation District park is located in a neighborhood setting. The 21-year-old concrete wonderland features flowy transitions that are still holding up today. Bring a faster setup to truly enjoy this park which features all types of transitions from a 12-foot-plus vert zone to curb quarter pipes, all types of pockets and hips, a fun snake run and a nice and tight Jersey barrier wall. Two things that really stand out in this park are the double barreled ride on dragon rail and the steep volcano at the entrance of the park complete with a concrete top that spins 360 degrees to keep things extra weird! Newberg is a transition skaters dream!
For a more complete directory of Oregon Skateparks, check out SkateOregon.com.
Skateboarding Etiquette 101
- Use parks only during open hours and only when the parks are dry.
- Maintain control and share the parks with others.
- Protect yourself. Helmets, elbow and knee pads and other protective equipment are strongly recommended.
- Keep the skatepark clean. Keep food, drinks and glass away from the skatepark surface and place trash in receptacles.
- If someone is acting inappropriately, be a mentor and share tips on skatepark etiquette.
- Use skateparks at your own risk and within your own abilities. Skateboarding and other appropriate uses of the park are high risk recreation activities that may result in serious injury.