Travel Spotlight: Port Orford’s Prehistoric Gardens


photo by Gary Randall

While other families in the 1950s were running out to the suburbs, E.V. “Ernie” Nelson dreamed of dinosaurs. He left his life as a mill owner in Eugene, packed up his family and drove until he found a credible prehistoric setting for the large-scale beasts he would build by hand. Nelson surrounded himself with scientific journals and began building over the next thirty years. The eighty-six-foot-long Brachiosaurus alone took four years to complete. On January 1, 1955, Prehistoric Gardens ( opened in the coastal rainforest near Port Orford.  It’s still worth the stop.

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  1. says: Joelle Adams

    The giant T Rex made us pull over: my 20yr old daughter and I loved it. The surrounding forest was very prehistoric looking; we even saw foot long slugs!

  2. says: Mary Keating

    We love it! Been there several times and will go back when ever we are in the area (which isn't often enough.) The area is gorgeous! Love the gardens, and the signage in the gardens are fascinating too.

  3. says: Kelly Geraghty

    The Prehistoric Gardens are absolutely magical!!! The dinosaurs are fantastic and the grounds are so beautiful …….a must see and experience for oneself!!!!!