In an effort to establish and support public skate areas for current and future generations of Portland’s skateboarders

Cloudy and wet with a 70 percent chance of rain throughout the week, the high at 41 degrees, low at 37. It's been a few days since I've been outside and not felt the constant rain on my face. I haven't seen the sun break in days, and it's been few weeks since I have skated outside, possibly a month since I've seen the full-on sunshine.

My bones and joints are a little achy and I feel a slight chill from Portland's soggy streets and resident grayness. It's winter in the Pacific Northwest, where you have to take the good with the bad. With that said, living in Portland (a.k.a., the Rose City), some days I feel guilty. I feel guilty that most skaters in the world can't experience how amazing life as a skater is in Portland.

In an effort to establish and support public skate areas for current and future generations of Portland’s skateboarders

Sure, our wintery wet months stretch well into April, but the summer is a much different scenario. It's not uncommon to see traveling skaters flock to Oregon, Portland specifically. Portland feels like the closest thing to a city built around skateboarding and, in fact, has embraced the skate culture. We even have a "skate route" that snakes through the downtown district.

Obviously, when mentioning Portland, you must pay homage to the grandfather of all DIY spots, Burnside. Burnside Skatepark has long been a destination point and proving ground for many a traveling skater.

It's served as the catalyst for two different skatepark building companies, Dreamland and Grindline, who have both gone on to build some of the best concrete parks in the world. Located directly in the center of the city, Burnside is one of the better-known spots to meet up with others and then roll out to any of the five skateparks within city limits or to hit the streets to sample some of the raw terrain that the winter months have left battered.

In an effort to establish and support public skate areas for current and future generations of Portland’s skateboarders

In an effort to establish and support public skate areas for current and future generations of Portland's skateboarders, an organized group of seasoned skaters, "Skaters for Portland Skate Parks," began to strategize and campaign to the City Council in 2002 in favor of the Portland Parks levy, which promised $500,000 for two public skateparks.

Fast-forward to 2005, and SPS had reached success with the Parks Department and City Council to adopt SPS' vision for a proposed comprehensive 19-skatepark plan in Portland.

This system of Portland skateparks includes three different types of skate parks: neighborhood skate spots, which are smaller in size (10,000 square feet, or equivalent to a set of tennis courts), district skateparks (10,000 to 20,000 square feet) with restrooms and additional amenities, and a regional skatepark (40,000-plus square feet), which would be targeted as a "destination" facility to skateboarders worldwide.

To compliment the expansive skate area, the design would include lighting, seating, restrooms, bicycle racks, and serve as a venue for world-class competitions to become a true skateboarding crown jewel for the city. how to get better at skateboarding

Once the ambitious plan was approved, and public monies and private donations were in place, Pier Park on the north end of town became the first district skate park from the list to be selected, constructed ,and completed in 2006.

It boasts a gnarly 11.5-foot-deep bowl and a 20-foot full-pipe as the main attraction and includes a mellow street area and two additional intermediate-level bowls. It's very common to see some of the older vert skaters mixing it up with the young guns on any given day as this park has something for everyone.

In the year to follow, Portland's Glenhaven Park opened in April. The main attraction of this most popular public park features a street area with some stamped brick banks, a couple of rails, ledges, and a super-fun 90-degree hip.

It's matched with a 9-foot-deep peanut-shaped pool and a triple-hipped flow bowl. Shortly afterward, Holly Farm, cited as a satellite park due to its small footprint, opened in Southwest Portland. Holly Farm offers a unique little stamped brick flow run, which funnels into an ear-shaped bowl. It's worth a good 30-minute session or as a warm up spot on the way out of town.

In July of 2008, Gabriel Park became the fourth skate park to open to the skating public. It features a flowing snake run design with soft-lipped, roll-in edges, a lengthy double-sided curb, and unique features. The newest edition to Portland's park plan is the highly utilized and popular Ed Benedict street plaza, which opened in January of last year.

The park designers and builders implemented a creative layout within the space provided to link handrails, ledges of all sizes, manual pads, stairs, and an unconventional mini ramp into a one-of-a kind skate park that can keep every level of street skater stoked. At this point, Portland skaters have been blessed with the completion of five parks in the ground, each of them bustling with activity on afternoons and weekends. 

Aside Prom the fun skate sessions regularly enjoyed at the previously mentioned parks, Portland's skaters hold true to maintain the DIY aesthetic and continue to adapt to the rough streets and unique spots that Portland offers year round.

Usually, these spots come and go pretty quickly, so skaters in the know have to be on their toes to get a piece of them. But guaranteed, just as one gets torn down or becomes a bust, there is a new spot in the works. While street skating in Portland is nothing new, a young, hungry batch of skaters have been taking it to the next level with proficient skill and determination.

For those feeling adventurous, a quick change of the wheels to some street cruisers and a short ride on the Max up to the Zoo will put them at the highest point in city limits and provides a thrilling chance to handle "the Zoo bomb." Not for the faint of heart, the Zoo bomb will get your heart beating for sure.

With an extensive network of shipping by railroad and by water, Portland has a pretty vast industrial area on every side of the city. These rugged regions are all filled with a grip of spots that will cater to any skater, but be forewarned that Northwest winters make our spots just a little more rough.

If you come to Portland and don't have direct access to a car, the city's public transportation system can pretty much get you to where you want to go, and if you have some extra cash, buying a used bike might be the ticket, as Portland is one of the most bike friendly cities in the U.S. I prefer to cut down old decks into mellow cruiser shapes and slap on some softies to get around town, but to each his own.

Portland's skate scene itself is pretty diverse. Over the years, the DIY attitude has trickled into the business side of skateboarding as well. Local skateboard companies such as Tribute, Bacon, Cold War, M&M, Jivaro Wheels, and Rebel along with more established companies such as Nike, Adidas, and Dakine in Hood River, have helped to diversify the skateboard community and make it stronger as a whole.

Skate shops such as Cal Skate, Exit Real World, Cal's Pharmacy, and Shrunken Head are making sure the core markets are covered and the kids get the latest and greatest equipment available.

In the long, wet winter months, the Department of Skateboarding is the hub to skaters seeking fun and shelter from the rain and cold. Not surprisingly, with so many skaters living here, Portland has a thriving backyard and garage scene.

I don't know of too many other towns where, when buying a house, a person would consider the size and height of the garage, or the square footage of the backyard in hopes of building something to skate all to themselves. There are plenty of backyard and garage skate sessions awaiting you in the Rose City; you just have to find the right connections.

So, sure, the skate scene sounds pretty amazing, but when it's hot out and the sun doesn't set until 10 pm, a break from the action is mandatory. During those hot summer months, you'll regularly hear the usual, "I'm going to the river." The Sandy and the Clackamas tributaries are the hot spots, and grabbing a tube and floating or just filling the cooler with some cold ones and hanging out on a rock or a secluded beach is just what the doctor ordered.

For those of age, Portland's nightlife scene is no slouch either. Cheap drinks, eats, and a no-smoking policy make a good skate day that much better. The city's diverse selection of restaurants is among the best in the country and many of them have earned themselves a solid reputation as well. Whether you opt for budget eats or a four-star evening meal with great ambience, you're certain to find great food no matter where you look.

Those on a budget are better off roughing it the old fashioned way: a quick drive in any direction out of the city limits will guarantee some epic camping spots. Take it all the way to the coast for some of the parks out there, or head to Mt. Hood and step in some snow in the middle of July. Nothing says "skate trip" like grabbing a tent, a sleeping bag, some friends, and rolling in to the woods for some campfires, hot dogs, and maybe the occasional "wizard staff."

With all this, Portland certainly is one cool, amazing city and Oregon itself is A an awesome place to come visit. Being a skater makes it that much better.

So, A this year when you and the crew are trying to figure out where to drive the beater to on a skate trip, or the family is looking for a spot to vacation and you're dreading not being able to skate the entire time, look at Portland, Oregon. I guarantee once you get here, you'll never want to leave. That's what happened to me. Read more: