Venture to vineyards and vistas
Millennia ago, a series of cataclysmic geological events created by shifting tectonic plates lifted the Cascade mountains and sent a series of Earth-moving floods from glacial Lake Missoula, carving out the Columbia River and depositing soils and sediment in the 100-mile swath known as the Willamette Valley.
These hills, valleys and soils are what made the Willamette Valley an ideal wine-growing destination, but they’re also what make the area the ultimate home base for exploring the natural wonderland that is Oregon. Each new season brings with it places that pull you outside for exploration and inspiration while on your tour of Oregon Wine Country.
Step into this story at Silver Falls State Park, where a trail of waterfalls and historical retreat center give you access to important periods of Oregon geology in a jaw-dropping forest setting. The hike loops you above, around and behind 10 waterfalls.
Set along Butte Creek, the Scotts Mills area abounds with lesser-known waterfall hikes. A one-mile trail weaving through Douglas-fir and hemlock trees will lead hikers to Upper and Lower Butte Creek Falls.
Lake lovers should pencil in Detroit Lake Marina for a classic summer experience (think fishing boat rentals, pontoons, ski boats, kayaks and paddleboards surrounded by hiking trails). Anglers should drop in at the North Santiam State Recreation Area, one of the state’s finest locations for native steelhead trout. A pristine, glacier-fed river runs through it.
Nearby wineries: Pudding River Wine Cellars, Abiqua Wind Vineyard, Vitis Ridge Winery, Piluso Vineyard, Silver Falls Vineyards
Floating through icebergs during the glacial floods, large rocks were deposited throughout the Willamette Valley. One of those rocks erratically found its way to a spot southwest of McMinnville, Oregon, now labeled Erratic Rock State Natural Site. The 90-ton rock is the largest glacial erratic in the valley.
A variety of ecosystems and wildlife can be found right outside of McMinnville at the 130-acre Miller Woods. Take a closer look at the wildlife that call the woods home by following the trail of covered boards. Under each board you may find snakes, lizards or frogs.
Saddle up for a ride through Wine Country with Equestrian Wine Tours. Tennessee Walking Horses will take you on a beautiful, guided ride through the famous Red Hills of Dundee while stopping at several wineries along the way to taste the area’s award-winning wines.
If you’re looking for more adventure, fly above the Willamette Valley with Vista Balloon Adventures in Newberg, Oregon. Typically flying from April through October, the scenic, three-hour tour will provide you with unparalleled views of the area’s mountains, river and rolling hills.
Camp in style at The Vintages Trailer Resort in Dayton, Oregon. From a 1947 Spartan Manor to a 2015 Flyte Camp Neutron, the resort has an assortment of retro and modern trailers complete with luxurious terrycloth robes, cruiser bikes and barbeques.
Nearby Wineries: Elizabeth Chambers Cellar, Maysara Winery, Anne Amie Vineyards, Owen Roe, Stoller Family Estate, Domaine Serene Winery
Falls City, Oregon, is located along the Little Luciamute River. Located directly outside of the town center, you’ll find Falls City Falls, the waterfall the town is named after. Mountain bike enthusiasts will want to head outside of town towards the Coastal Range to visit Black Rock. This world-class mountain biking area is divided into six trails, rated according to skill set, and has a skills development area with wooden skinnies, ladders and jumps.
Continue your tour in Dallas, Oregon, at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Just shy of 2,500 acres, the refuge is an ideal habitat for wintering Canada geese, black-tailed deer and the rare, endangered butterfly known as Fender’s blue.
The state’s second largest erratic boulder can be found at Left Coast Estate, in Rickreall, Oregon, which is home to the largest collection of these rocks. See the rock up close on a vineyard tour or go for a hike on the estate’s miles of hiking trails. Set up camp at Eola Hills’ Legacy Estate in Salem, Oregon. The property has several shaded tent-camping sites overlooking a serene pond.
Nearby Wineries: Firesteed Winery and Tasting Room, Illahe Vineyards, Van Duzer Vineyards, Cubanisimo Vineyards, Johan Vineyards, Chateau Bianca Winery