Exploring Portland’s Park: Willamette and the Butterfly Park

Jer and I have been exploring Portland’s parks, of which there are many and varied. Well, somewhat varied. Many of the close-in city parks are your basic rectangle with the requisite swing sets, picnic table(s), grove of trees, and a playing field. Great for the neighborhood, but not so marvelous for the photographer. As Jer is on a photography quest, some of those rectangles can be challenging.

However, I’m out for the fun and exercise, so I get to photograph only what catches my eye. The weather has been late summer perfection.

The other evening we drove to SW Portland, along the Willamette River, to check out Willamette Park. Willamette Park is a long green stretch along the Willamette River (am I sounding redundant?) with Macadam Avenue on the other side. The park runs into SW Miles Place on the south end, where a public street can be walked through to the other side, where begins the Butterfly Park. A greenway extends further south, beyond the Sellwood Bridge.  I always think of the Butterfly Park as an extension of Willamette Park, although properly speaking, it’s a separate entity. It also runs along, guess what, the Willamette River.

While this is park has all the usual amenities — playing fields, children’s play area, groves of trees — it also has a sailboat “marina” and a boat ramp. When I was training for the marathon, I ran through Willamette Park a lot — it was just down the hill a piece from our SW Portland house.

My running path would take me from the Ross Island Bridge, through what was then an aged industrial area, past some spendy condos, and then disbursed me onto the Willamette Park greenway. I usually turned around at the Sellwood Bridge, making a 4 –6 mile training run mostly through pleasant territory.

I was charmed by the sailboats, and my grandchild and I found our way down there quite often to watch them as well as to see the herons flope, flope, flope, out of the trees on Ross Island.

When I was running, Portland Parks and Rec had just acquired the land for the Butterfly Park on the other side of SW Miles Place. Now, it’s got good butterfly habitat and even a charming path down to a bench overlooking the river.

This is an easy park to get to, and not just because we know the area. I have photos from other SW parks that were less easy to find, even with a map, a name, and a clear sense that we were circling and circling where they were s’posed to be. More later. –June

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