Willamette Valley Search Results
You’re in luck — there are a lot of gorgeous flower farms in the Willamette Valley, and most are not more than 20 minutes east or west of Interstate 5, the main north-south route through Oregon. Depending on what time of spring or summer you’re driving through, there will be different flowers in season. Also, some of these farms are small, family-run operations, so it’s good to call and check to verify they’ll be open on the day you’re traveling through.
Here are several good ones to check out. I’ve listed them in the order you’d pass them if you’re driving south to north.
Hendricks Park is less than two miles east of Interstate 5 in Eugene. It’s an 80-acre city park, so it’s open year-round, but probably best to visit this time of year (March-May), because it’s famous for its rhododendron garden. Thousands of rhododendrons are in bloom there every spring, some of them as early as February and some into June.
Japanese Garden at Boulder Falls Inn is another garden that’s open any time and looks gorgeous in all seasons. This Japanese-inspired garden at Boulder Falls Inn is located in Lebanon, eight miles west of Interstate 5. This garden is adjacent to the Boulder Falls Inn in Lebanon, but you don’t have to be a guest there to visit the garden. It’s small, but worth a mention because it’s just so pretty and is open year-round. It was designed by Hoichi Kurisu, the same internationally known designer behind Portland’s Japanese Garden. There’s a nice restaurant called 1847 right next to the garden, so it’s a great place to stop, get off the freeway, have lunch or dinner and take a walk around the garden.
The Oregon Garden is 13 miles west of Salem in the little town of Silverton. The Oregon Garden isn’t just one type of garden — it’s an 80-acre botanical garden with dozens of different types of gardens within the main garden. This is another great one to add to your trip because it’s open 365 days a year and there is always something in bloom no matter what time of year you visit. Rhododendrons and tulips are fantastic there right now; irises and peonies usually start blooming in May; rose season is late spring to summer.
Schreiner’s Iris Garden is super-close to I-5; from exit 263 (a few miles north of Salem) it’s just 2.5 miles southwest of the freeway. The garden’s “bloom season” is May 6-31 this year.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is nine miles east of Interstate 5, just outside the town of Woodburn. It has GORGEOUS fields of tulips and lots of fun activities during their spring tulip festival (which lasts until May 1 this year) like wine tasting, wagon rides, a kids’ play area and even tethered hot air balloon rides.
Swan Island Dahlias is about 10 miles west of I-5 near Canby. It has more than 35 acres of dahlias open to the public August-September.
There are also a number of different farms in the valley that specialize in lavender, particularly in the Mt. Hood Territory, which is in the northwest part of the Willamette Valley. These are part of that region’s “farm loops” — scenic driving routes of farms you can visit. Check on current operating hours before you visit: June and July tend to be when lavender is in bloom.
My very simple, condensed answer about foraging is: as long as you are picking small amounts of non-endangered species for personal use, it’s most likely going to be fine. (i.e. picking a few berries or mushrooms while you’re hiking) Regulations depend on what you want to pick, where you’re picking it and how much you want to pick. Small amounts for personal use are usually okay, but check to know how much “personal use” is. Here are some sites that might help:
I hope all the red tape doesn’t discourage you; every forest ranger I’ve ever met wants nothing more than to see people out enjoying the forest, and the Sweet Home ranger district even leads hikes where they teach people how to forage!
What a great question! Here are my ideas for good sunsets near Salem.
Happy sunset watching! I hope you find some great views.
Picking the best hotels, wineries and restaurants in the Willamette Valley is a little bit like picking a favorite child…they’re all so great it’s hard to pick just one. But I’ll do my best!
You won’t go wrong with any of these choices. I hope you enjoy your trip!
|Willamette Valley, Wine|
I can answer this one pretty well, as one of my relatives uses a power chair and we’ve gone many places together over the years. Are you looking for camping sites? Or parks and natural areas? Here are a few ideas:
Sunnyside Park and RiverBend Park are two very pretty campgrounds on mostly flat ground with lots of paved walkways. Sunnyside is right on the shores of Green Peter Reservoir, and RiverBend is on the banks of the South Santiam River. Both are very easy to get around in when using a chair.
Champoeg State Park outside of Newberg is another good option — a variety of camping options (tent, RV, cabin, yurt) in a mostly flat and level area with paved walking trails. Some of them are formally designated ADA-accessible, but all of them would be relatively easy to get around in a chair. It’s in a pretty part of the Willamette Valley, nearby to lots of great wineries, and has some interesting historic sites within the park.
The Oregon Garden is another great place to visit for folks using chairs — it’s an 80-acre botanical garden (bigger than Buchart Gardens in Canada!) — and the entire place is ADA compliant. There’s also an adjacent Oregon Garden Resort which has ADA compliant rooms you can book for the night.
Of course, you’ll be deep in Wine Country there, and I should encourage you to stop in at one of the bajillion wineries for a drop of pinot — it is definitely worth a stop. As for beer, a couple to put on your list are Golden Valley (McMinnville), one of Oregon’s older breweries and a good one. The long-time brewer there, Mark Vickery, went off and started Grain Station (McMinnville), which should probably be your first stop. Great story, great place — and great beer. Another brewery I love is Heater Allen (also McMinnville), but they focus on lagers so you’ll have to decide whether that fits the bill. (Lagers have finally started to get popular in Oregon, and this brewery is one of the big reasons why.)
A couple other places to note: You might consider driving to Salem to check out Santiam, which is an interesting brewery that does mainly cask ales. It’s unusual and you might find it interesting. There’s also a new brewery in Dundee called Deception. Breweries open so fast in Oregon that I’m falling behind. I still haven’t made it out there. Perhaps you can go and tell me what it’s like.
|Beer, Willamette Valley|
For the most concentrated wine tasting area, stay either in the Yamhill Valley (Newberg, Dundee and McMinnville area, where the majority of the Willamette Valley’s wineries can be found) or in Salem (easy access to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA).
My go-to fun, budget-priced hotels in Yamhill Valley:
McMinnville and Newberg also have some good standard chain hotels:
Near Salem, closer to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA:
|Willamette Valley, Wine|
You can definitely photograph dozens of Oregon’s covered bridges in a three-day journey. How many you can hit just depends on how much driving you want to do and how early you want to get up and get started!
Assuming you start on the north end of the Willamette Valley and head south, I suggest sticking to the ones not far off the I-5 travel corridor. Here’s a recommended route for you:
Day 1: Marion, Polk, Benton, and Linn counties (10-13 bridges)
Start with the ones in the Salem vicinity:
Head south to Corvallis:
Head east to Albany to view five covered bridges clustered in a loop near Scio: (Follow the driving directions.)
This would probably be a pretty full day, but if you have more time and energy, continue east to Cascadia, where you’ll find:
Turn around and head back to Sweet Home:
From there take Highway 228 to Crawfordsville:
Day 2: Lane County (11-18 bridges) Lane County has more remaining covered bridges than any other area of the state — probably more than you could see in a day, but there are clusters of them around the Fall Creek/Lowell/Dexter area and near Cottage Grove.
You could start off just south of Eugene:
Then head out toward the cluster near Fall Creek:
Then head for the cluster near Cottage Grove:
That would put you at 11 bridges for the day. You could head back to Eugene to spend the night, or stay in Cottage Grove. Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove is supposed to be really nice.
Day 3: Douglas/Jackson County (9 bridges)
Just over the county line of Douglas County:
Near Myrtle Creek:
Continuing south into Josephine County:
East of Grants Pass toward Rogue River:
If you have time you could also continue south to
I also suggest getting your hands on the map put out by the Covered Bridge Society of Oregon, if you don’t have it already!
I love kayaking — and it’s a great vacation idea! Here are a few spots in that area you might try:
You can rent equipment from several places:
|Outdoor Adventure, Willamette Valley|
Berry picking is one of my favorite things to do in the summer! Greens Bridge Garden in Jefferson, a little south of Salem, is one of our family’s favorite U-pick farms. They have a really large variety of fruits and berries to pick, and they have a nice little farmstand store as well.
In addition to Greens Bridge, there are a number of other U-pick farms: