A perfect slice of nature exists in the heart of Omaha.
Since opening in 2004, OPPD’s Arboretum has been an attraction for anyone wanting to enjoy the outdoors without having to leave the city. The Arboretum, at 108th and Blondo streets, near Interstate 680, has proved popular for educational hikes, dog-walkers and group get-togethers.
The 26-acre site was created to educate visitors about what trees and shrubs are best planted around overhead and underground power lines, where to plant them and how landscaping impacts energy conservation. There is also educational signage throughout the site that explains the different plants and shows them at maturity.
“The original purpose was for our customers to come out and see the different kinds of trees and which ones to plant near lines,” said Mike Norris, utility forester. “Over the years it has evolved into a place where a lot of photographers come. We want to make it as nice as possible for the people who come here. This is a good place to come out and relax in the city.”
If you go, make sure to bring your camera. The scenery is a hidden gem for area photographers looking for that perfect backdrop for senior pictures, wedding photos or shots of the little ones.
The arboretum is open from dusk to dawn year-round and is a Nebraska Statewide Arboretum affiliate site.
There are two miles of walking trails and an outdoor classroom that seats about 30 students. The area is vibrant and colorful, particularly in spring and fall. There are two acres of native grasses and wildflowers and 16 acres of formal planting/turf area. Between camera clicks or a jog on the woodchip trails, visitors can also learn a little.
Students from Metropolitan and Iowa Western Community colleges occasionally hold classes and the tree-trimming companies OPPD contracts with also hold training sessions at the Arboretum, Norris said.
The site, believed to be the nation’s first large-scale, utility-owned arboretum, easily sees about 150 to 200 people on a weekend day when the weather’s nice, Norris said.
Explore OPPD’s Arboretum, either in-person or via our photo galleries. One of the city’s most scenic spots is just a short drive away and is located close to the interstate for easy access for out of town visitors.
Arboretum Areas of Interest
- Electrical Education Area: Provides a demonstration of the trimming methods used by OPPD’s Forestry Department. Also includes examples of tree/shrub species that can be planted adjacent to power lines.
- Substation Overlook: Explains each part of the substation and it functions.
- Transmission Line Demonstration: Walk through a transmission right-of-way. Vegetation management practices used by OPPD to eliminate unwanted vegetation and promote desirable plants that attract wildlife.
- Shelterbelt, Wildlife and Erosion: Tree and shrub plantings designed to attract wildlife. The plantings are examples of soil and wind conservation measures from erosion control and windbreaks.
- Formal Planting Area: Emphasizes planting the right tree in the right place to avoid future tree/power line hazards. Visitors can see the types of trees suitable for planting near power lines.
- Outdoor Classroom: A classroom within a forested area surrounded by native tree species and connected to a hard-surfaced trail system.