Eclipse Trips: Willamette Valley
Total Solar Eclipse
August 21, 2017
The eclipse will take less than 15 minutes to cross the state, with each region in the path of totality experiencing total darkness for only a minute or two. While those few minutes will be worth the journey, this also leaves lots of time to enjoy all the beautiful places and exceptional activities of Oregon. Eclipse festivities provide a starting place to visit these unique, small communities and beyond.
Eclipse chasers from around the world are expected to come to Oregon to see this rare astronomical event. The path of totality spreads across a relatively rural area of the state that isn’t used to such a large numbers of visitors. For this reason, it’s important to show up booked and ready with a plan. To have the best experience, remember these eclipse tips and be aware of Oregon resources available to you.
SALEM/ALBANY, 10:17 A.M.
This easy-access portion of the path of totality straddles I-5 from the capital city of Salem to riverside Albany. While this is the densest urban area in Oregon to see the eclipse, it’s also a great base for visiting some of the state’s highlights, from wine country to the fantastically lush Silver Falls State Park.
Many of the big state events will take place here, including a huge viewing party at the Oregon State Fairgrounds hosted by OMSI, as well as options to dine and imbibe during the eclipse at nearby wineries. Salem’s baseball team, the Volcanoes, will be on the field during the minutes of darkness, making this the first professional baseball game to be delayed by an eclipse. Farther out, the Oregon Garden in historic Silverton will be celebrating the eclipse via live music, food and drinks on its 80 blooming acres.
From the Tualatin Valley to the Eugene-Springfield area, more than 500 wineries and nearly 20,000 acres of vineyards dot this beautiful part of Oregon’s wine country, home to famed pinot noir. You’ll find the highest concentration around McMinnville (in the path of totality) and Newberg. Less-trafficked wine roads and homier tasting rooms abound around Salem and in the southern stretches of the valley. Join a wine tour, or pick a designated driver to help you explore.
And it’s not just wine. Beer and cider lovers will find breweries and cideries, while foodies will experience bliss at the number of fine restaurants dotted throughout this region. Several farms are open to visitors, including a cherry orchard, a creamery and even an elk farm.
SILVERTON AND SILVER FALLS STATE PARK
This region, only 15 miles east of Salem, offers some of the most lush scenery in the state. Start in historic Silverton (in the path of totality), a picture-perfect town along Silver Creek that brims with relaxing restaurants and quaint windowshopping. The Oregon Garden, right in town, offers 80 acres of flora diversity, including a Northwest garden showcasing local plants, a children’s garden where the kids can run wild and even a tropical garden in a giant greenhouse.
Thirteen miles southeast of Silverton, one of Oregon’s true natural gems, Silver Falls State Park, is not to be missed. The park’s signature 7.2-mile loop hike, the Trail of Ten Falls, passes 10 exceptional waterfalls. You can also drive closer to 177-foot-high South Falls to see the highlights without such a long walk.
Just east of I-5, you’ll find the Cascade Mountain Range with hiking galore, plus an Oregon specialty: hot springs. Less than an hour and a half’s drive from Salem, Breitenbush Hot Springs sits on a 144-acre wildlife refuge and has a cluster of simple cabins. You can use the retreat center by day or stay longer for more relaxation. Along the way, make a stop to swim or boat in evergreenencircled Detroit Lake.
The trailhead for rustic Cougar Hot Springs is about a two-hour drive plus a quarter-mile hike from Albany. The pools are clothing optional, and be prepared for crowds in summer. Nearby, Belknap Hot Springs has two wading pools fed with hot water for a more polished experience.
Also in the path of totality, Corvallis is home to Oregon State University and its beloved football team, the Beavers. It’s also known for its brewpubs, eateries and an all-around good-time vibe. Walk through the old-growth trees at the university’s Peavy Arboretum, or head 25 miles west of town to climb Marys Peak (4,097 feet), the highest point of the Oregon Coast Range.
World-famous for track and field, Eugene is a college town with a bohemian spirit. Artists and hippies mingle with University of Oregon students, and in the summer the town hosts a number of festivals that bring an infectious, festive ambiance.
The Fifth Street Public Market has live music and fun boutique shopping daily, but Eugene really lights up for the Saturday Market, when more than 200 artisans, 15-plus food vendors and live performers descend on the Park Blocks.
Regarding eclipse lodging: The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) recommends that visitors with hotel reservations during the eclipse contact the hotel directly as soon as possible to confirm that their reservations will be honored at the originally advertised price and to make sure that the reservation has not been canceled. Hotels must honor originally advertised prices, regardless of whether the prices are advertised directly by the hotel or through a third party. Any visitors encountering problems with hotel reservations should contact DOJ’s consumer hotline by calling 877-877-9392 or filing an online complaint at https://justice.oregon.gov/complaints/
These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.