The Willamette Valley is known for its fantastic Pinot noir and blanc, its fertile farmland and its state universities—University of Oregon in Eugene and Oregon State University in Corvallis. The rolling hills and wet side of the Cascades bring Oregon much of her bounty from the earth. Pass through this region, and you’ll likely find yourself taking back a few glasses of wine over a delicious meal made with ingredients from the farm next door. Plan your Oregon getaway in these parts and prepare yourself for lush scenery, hints of a ‘Ducks vs. Beavers’ rivalry, good food, even better wine, and opportunities for hiking, biking and kayaking.
The legendary floating and fly-fishing destination, the Deschutes River, runs through Central Oregon. Along its banks, you’ll find world-class mountain bike trails, alpine and Nordic skiing, some of the state’s best beers and an unusually sophisticated populus for being out in the high desert of Oregon. Hit the slopes at Mt. Bachelor for a perfect winter getaway in Bend or choose Central Oregon as your next summer vacation to hike, bike, fish or paddle anything that can handle the unlimited amount of lakes and rivers dispersed throughout this area.
When visiting the Willamette Valley’s wine country, often the hardest decision isn’t where to go tasting or dining but where to rest your head after all the sipping and supping. Sure there are a few inexpensive motels around, but with several distinctive and romantic accommodations, why not make it a more memorable experience? Here are some of my favorites:
Rising out of the urban jungle, US 26 crosses the northernmost Oregon Cascades pass at Government Camp on the slopes of Mt. Hood and descends into the high desert. This scenic byway carries travelers from hectic metropolis, through evergreen forest and across the arid homeland of a sovereign nation all in the span of about an hour and a half.
In 1915, the two largest sawmills in the country (Shevlin-Hixon and Brooks-Scanlon) sat facing each other across the Deschutes River in Bend. It’s doubtful that anyone could have, through all that smoke, predicted that one day the small timber town would morph into a winter recreation destination. Perhaps a few of the Swedish and Norwegian loggers and mill workers, who brought the ski sports to Bend and Central Oregon, might have had a momentary flight of fancy that involved a future with an alpine ski area, miles of cross-country ski trails and possibly more breweries than churches.
In the early and mid 1970s, hundreds of dory fishermen set off from Pacific City in a quest that generously produced fishing legends. Ray Monroe had been there then, alongside his father and grandfather. As a young man, Monroe was one of the 300 or so commercially licensed salmon fishermen sailing dory boats out of Pacific City to harvest the bounty for which the Oregon Coast is renown. The old salts recount stories of making thousands of dollars in a single haul, full of fish, prized for its fight, profit and taste.