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school field trips & youth group visits

School Field Trips & Youth Group Visits

Thank you for your interest in bringing your group to the Tillamook Forest Center for an educational field trip program.

Forest Experiences for Youth

The Tillamook Forest Center offers K-12 students an opportunity to connect to a dynamic forest that holds many stories, lessons and opportunities for exploration and discovery. The center and its exhibits, coupled with experienced guides and the scenic Oregon Coast Range, offer unique meaningful and enriching learning experiences.

With a hands-on, student-centric approach to forest learning that is directly tied to Oregon’s state curriculum and benchmark standards, the Tillamook Forest Center’s education programs are highly regarded and in demand. We provide quality guided learning opportunities, with both pre-site and post-site activities included for trip leaders.

Programs & Events   |   School Field Trips & Youth Group Visit Information   |   Teacher & Parent Resources

  • 1. Review all youth field trips and group visit information and requirements below or download a packet to review.
    2. Select which type of field trip/visit, and contact us to submit your request and payment.
    3. Look for confirmation and review preparation materials.

  • Forest education field trips and youth visits are offered Wednesday – Friday from September – November and March – June from 10 am – 3 pm. The center is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and throughout December, January, and February. Other group visits are upon request during operating hours.

    Programs are tied to state curriculum requirements and academic standards, and are aligned with Oregon Environmental Literacy, and Oregon Forest Literacy Programs. Most programs also include pre-visit and post-visit activities.

    Tours are available to learn field trip planning logistics and to find out how center resources can support your curriculum. Large group leaders may be required to do a pre-site visit prior to their visit. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

    • Beginning on September 1, 2018 any group* comprised of 10 or more individuals (includes children and adults) MUST schedule their visit in advance of their arrival. *This does not include families. It includes all groups wanting to visit the inside of the Tillamook Forest Center.

    • Groups will be charged $5 / person (including children). Teachers, aids, and bus drivers are admitted free. One adult chaperone is admitted free for every five students/campers. Additional chaperones and siblings are $5 each (please bring no more than one chaperone for every three students for school groups).

    • Payment options: Preferred payment method is credit card or cash. If checks are the only option, please make checks payable to the Oregon Department of Forestry (not the Tillamook Forest Center) and mail checks Attention: Education Coordinator to the Tillamook Forest Center 45500 Wilson River Highway, Tillamook, OR 97141. Advance payment is required. Registration is not confirmed until full payment is received. Please call (503) 815-6800 to submit payment for credit cards.

    • Cancellations prior to one month before the program date are refundable, minus a $50 administration fee. Cancellations made less than one month before the program date are not refundable.

    • On the day of the program, additional children or chaperones must be paid for upon arrival.

    • There is no refund for scheduled children/chaperones who do not attend the program.

    • A limited amount of scholarship funds is available to support schools with 60% or more participation in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch and/or CEP Programs. Nonprofit organizations may apply. Please note funds are limited and requests are processed as they are received.

    • All groups of 10 or more (not including families) MUST register, even if a formal guided program is not requested.

    • All groups must read, agree, and adhere to field trip/visit requirements. Submission of registration confirms that all requirements are understood and will be followed.

    • Formally guided programs must have a minimum of 30 students. Resources are available for smaller groups.

    • Registration is required at least four weeks in advance, with registration opening each year in August for school groups.

    • Submit an online request and submit payment to begin the process of booking your visit. Requested dates and times are subject to availability and facility capacity. The visitor center cannot guarantee access at all times.

    • Requests will be processed beginning mid to late August for the upcoming school year. There are limited opportunities available and space fills up fast, so make sure to register early.

    • Requests are processed on a first-come, first-served basis as they are received in our online system. Requests are finalized as payments are received.

    • Schools wanting to bring more than one class of the same/similar grade must register multiple classes on the same day. This allows us to serve more communities and students and maximize OFRI’s bus funding.

    • The Oregon Department of Forestry protects approximately 16 million acres of private and public forest lands. In the event of wildfires, processing of education program requests may be delayed due to reduced staffing.

    • After reading all of the youth field trips and group visit information and requirements below, proceed to submit request.


    • Read the field trip preparation materials and all expectations well in advance of the scheduled field trip and be prepared.

    • Ensure students are prepared and divided into appropriate groups.

    • Ensure transportation will be available for the entire duration of the field trip.

    • Provide advance notice of special needs that may affect programming.

    • Acquire minimum requirement of chaperones and set expectations for chaperones.


    • We require one adult chaperone (18 years or older) for every five youth. The Tillamook Forest Center reserves the right to refuse admittance to groups with too few or too many adults.

    • Youth under 16 must be accompanied by a chaperone at all times.

    • Chaperones must provide appropriate supervision, be actively engaged, and facilitate exploration in the exhibit hall with provided scavenger hunt booklets. Chaperones are responsible for maintaining the behavior of their student/youth group.

    • In order to ensure a pleasant experience for all visitors, increase learning, reduce congestion in our narrow exhibit hall, and comply with our maximum occupancy we require groups to rotate through stations both indoors and outdoors (i.e. lookout tower, trails, exhibit hall and movie) and use scavenger hunt sheets/booklets to focus exploration when inside.

    • When traveling to and from the lobby/restroom area please take groups of youth around the outside rather than through the exhibit hall.

    • Chaperones must manage groups to ensure all doorways, access points, and the lobby/restroom area are not blocked for general visitor use. This includes minimizing the number of youth waiting to use the restroom.

  • Please make sure when scheduling a bus, that drivers do not have to leave early for a route back at school and provide directions from the Tillamook Forest Center website (cell phones and GPS systems are rarely accurate). It is very important to clearly communicate to the bus driver the ENTIRE duration of the field trip and allow sufficient travel time with traffic and communicate loading and parking procedures (see arrival procedure section).  

    Late arrivals or early departures of 15 minutes or more will result in a program modification which will require cutting part of the program (shortening lunch is not an option for staff). The inability to participate for the entire duration of the field trip will jeopardize the ability for teachers/group leaders to schedule future field trips.

    In addition, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) may reimburse transportation costs for teachers who register for a guided school program and have financial need. The online form is located on OFRI's website. OFRI must receive your request prior to your scheduled field trip. Please note the Oregon Department of Forestry/Tillamook Forest Center does not process any transportation reimbursement.

    • Cell phone service is not available throughout the forest and is extremely limited at the Tillamook Forest Center. The center is equipped with phone service in case of an emergency. A payphone is available for use.

    • Please use the directions on our website. Navigation systems often take visitors on forest roads or indirect routes. 

    • Be alert to road conditions and road closures in the forest the day of your trip (the summit of Highway 6 is at 1586’). In cases where conditions are judged to be unsafe due to high winds or other factors such as power outages or flooding, we will contact you as early as possible.

    • Please come prepared to be outdoors. The Tillamook State Forest weather is generally colder and wetter than surrounding areas. On average, the forest receives 120” of rain each year! We encourage everyone to dress in layers, bring raincoats, sturdy closed-toed shoes, and long pants. No flip-flops, sandals, heels, etc. Ponchos will be available for formal guided programs.

    • All programs may be modified in the event of inclement weather. Cancellations due to extreme weather may be rescheduled as space permits.

    • The center, Smith Homestead Day Use Area, Jones Creek Campground and trails are maintained by correctional inmates from the South Fork Forest Camp. These crews may be in the vicinity performing routine maintenance. Crews are closely supervised and signs indicating their presence are placed in the area of their work. Forest field trips are scheduled to provide adequate separation from these activities.

    • For safety and order, please drop off and pick up your group at the bus stop near the flag pole to reduce pedestrian crossing traffic in the parking lot. Pull through RV/Bus parking is available. Buses are to park after unloading and pull back around to the loading zone 10 minutes before departure. Bus drivers must remain onsite and accessible in the event of an emergency or need to relocate buses.

    • Groups are required to check in at the information desk located just past the lobby upon arrival if staff are not immediately visible in the entry plaza. Staff will meet your group and provide orientation to prepare everyone for a day of forest fun!

    • Formally guided programs must have a minimum of 30 students. Resources are available for smaller groups.

    • Upon arrival please be prepared to meet staff with a headcount of both students and adults and plans regarding the gift shop. Groups will unload the buses, quickly use the restrooms and return to the flagpole to await staff orientation.

    • Formally guided programs will have a designated area(s) reserved for lunch. Please have adult chaperones transport lunches on provided carts.

    • Due to the remote location, we ask all groups practice Leave No Trace ethics and take all lunch waste back to school. Please come prepared with large garbage bags to haul garbage.

    • In order to accommodate visitors with disabilities and be respectful of facility renters, field trips/camp groups that are not attending a formally guided program are asked to please eat lunch at the TFC picnic area located adjacent to the south side of the parking lot rather than on the bridge.

    • Please remember that food and drinks are not allowed in the exhibit hall, theater or lookout tower.

    • If you are visiting the Smith Homestead Day Use Area, please use the picnic area in the island next to the parking lot to allow general visitors and Forest Learning Shelter renters use of the space near the building.


    The award-winning movie Legacy of Fire plays on the hour and half hour beginning at 10:30 am*. Please exit the movie out the door to the left of the movie screen to reduce congestion in the exhibit hall. Not all field trips will include a visit to the movie theater. It may be viewed online at:
    *There are times when the movie will not play automatically and may be on a different schedule.



    The gift shop at the Tillamook Forest Center features a variety of distinctive forest-related gift items. During formally guided programs, the goal is to focus on learning and the forest. Most often there is little or no time to visit the gift shop depending on the program agenda. If there is time, and group leaders decide to allow students to visit the gift shop, please notify parents that $7 - $10 in spending money will provide students with a wealth of choices. On the day of the visit please notify the staff if students are allowed in the gift shop. Please communicate to parent chaperones that only small groups (1 adult and 5 students) are allowed in the gift shop at one time, groups will need to rotate, students must be accompanied by adults, and no lines are allowed to avoid congestion in and around the gift shop area. Also, please note that all student sales are final to avoid numerous returns.



    Many of our guided field trips include a scavenger hunt to the top of the fire lookout tower. This 1955 replica showcases a real Osborne Fire Finder, bed, insulted stool, authentic radio and a plethora of stories and images. The maximum occupancy of the tower is 27, so if there is already a group of visitors in the cabin, please wait and rotate through.



    Regardless of the weather, we strongly encourage groups to spend time in the forest. That’s where the magic is! Depending on the type of education program, staff may be leading guided hikes along the trails and you may be asked to avoid certain trails. There are two ADA accessible trails leading from the center. The River View Trail (.04 mile) and the Lookout Loop (.02 mile).



    The 22-mile linear Wilson River Trail crosses near the far end of the suspension bridge spanning the Wilson River. The center, Smith Homestead Day Use Area, Jones Creek Campground and trails are maintained by correctional inmates from the South Fork forest Camp. These crews may be in the vicinity performing routine maintenance. Crews are closely supervised and signs indicating their presence are placed in the area of their work. For this reason, we ask youth groups to stay on the south side of the river near the center to avoid conflicts. If you are interested in accessing the Wilson River Trail during your visit, please communicate this when submitting your request.

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