Discover fall in the Mid-Willamette Valley
Visiting the Salem, Oregon, area this fall? Here's what you need to know.
Weather and what to wear:
Fall in the Mid-Willamette Valley brings cooler weather along with a higher chance of rain and overcast skies, but there are still pockets of sunny days throughout the season. Daytime temperatures will gradually drop from high 70s to low 50s from September to November. Make sure to pack sweaters, flannels, long pants, hats and scarves and a jacket, rain boots and umbrella in case of a drizzle. If you plan to adventure outdoors, sturdy hiking shoes are a good idea.
What to do:
Can't-Miss Harvest Festivals
Farms throughout the Mid-Willamette Valley burst with excitement each October, as the season is celebrated with pumpkin patches, hayrides and corn mazes. Festivities await at Greens Bridge Garden’s Harvest Festival, an annual event that transforms this u-pick farm in Jefferson, Oregon, into a month-long autumnal celebration with several free attractions, including duck races, farm animal viewing and a little hay maze.
E.Z. Orchards, a popular, year-round stop for produce in Salem, has everything from pumpkin patches and pie eating contests, to the farm’s famous apple cider donuts at its annual fall festival. French Prairie Gardens, in St. Paul, Oregon, is a family-owned and operated farm that offers sweeping views of the beautiful Willamette Valley. Visit the farm to enjoy family-friendly fun and cheer on the small, but mighty, competitors of the farm’s locally-famous pig races, the Pigtucky Derby.
Head to the Farm
Pick your own apples at Beilke Family Farm, in Brooks, Oregon, where you can choose from 15 different varieties, including Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Fuji, in the farm’s 10-acre orchard. Fordyce Farm, in Salem, is open through the end of October and offers a wide variety of u-pick and we-pick fruits and vegetables. Stop in for apples and pumpkins and stay for the beautiful display garden and bakery offering scrumptious homemade baked goods. For more farms, click here.
Find Fall Adventures
While Oregon forests are known for lush green Douglas fir and red alder trees, autumn brings fiery hues into the mix. Breathe in clean, brisk air as your eyes feast on the beautiful array of orange, red and gold foliage throughout the area this time of year.
The Croisan Scenic Trail runs somewhat parallel to Croisan Creek Road and is disguised by surrounding homes in the South Salem suburbs. This arboreous, one-mile dirt path presents a peaceful setting for walking, biking and running amidst fall's brilliant colors. History and nature harmonize in the Court-Chemeketa Historic District, a 12-block residential district east of the Oregon State Capitol that provides encounters with both endearing historic houses and glowing leaves. For more ideas of where to spot fall foliage, click here.
Test your courage and challenge yourself at the Black Rock Mountain Biking Area, a four-trail park that offers adventure for riders of all skill levels. Explore some of the area's smaller communities to discover three of the 51 historic covered bridges that appear on the Covered Bridge Tour.
Head east into the Cascade Mountains to hike the Opal Creek Wilderness, which is home to Jawbone Flats, an off-the-grid former mining camp. If you plan to drive Highway 22, supplement your trip with the Together Anywhere Driving Guide, an audio guide that uses GPS location services to share stories and point out sights you may not have otherwise seen.
Bring your binoculars and embark on a self-guided tour of the valley’s birding sites along the Willamette Valley Birding Trail. Spot Western Meadowlark, Great Blue Heron and countless other unique birds at different spots across the valley.
Take in gorgeous architecture and breathtaking panoramic views on the Hilltop Walking Tour at Mount Angel Abbey. Along the way, stop at 16 points of interest, including the Benedictine Brewery and the Abbey Museum, which will give you a closer look into the history of the monastery and the everyday life of the monks who call it home.
Visit Frey’s Dahlias, in Turner, Oregon, through mid-October for a dose of vibrant color. Make sure to check out the cut dahlias and tubers to add to your garden. Head further north to Silverton, Oregon, to visit Silver Falls State Park, where you can hike above, around and behind 10 waterfalls while enjoying the beauty of the season.
If you are coming to town to watch a college athletic event, stick around a little longer to discover the many great experiences that surround our local universities. Chemeketa Community College has its very own tasting room and vineyard, Chemeketa Cellars, through its Wine Studies Program at its campus in the Eola-Amity Hills.
Corban University's charming campus is built right into the hills of Salem and does not stray far from the Silver Falls Tour Route. Willamette University lies in Salem’s downtown district, across the street from our State Capitol. Founded in 1842, it is the oldest university in the western United States. Stroll the picturesque campus with red brick academic buildings and color-changing trees, then stay for a performance at the M. Lee Pelton Theatre. On your way to Western Oregon University, stop in its hometown, Monmouth, Oregon, for a memorable small-town experience.
Harvest in Oregon Wine Country
Harvest season is a glorious time in the Willamette Valley’s wine country. From late September to early November, wineries buzz with excitement as grapes reach perfection and are picked, crushed and aged into the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varietals we all know and love. During the last weekend in November, vineyards across the valley celebrate the season’s yield by hosting a series of special events at Wine Country Thanksgiving. For a list of wineries to visit, click here.
Taste Fresh Hops
Beers made with the freshest hops await at the valley’s breweries, thanks to the harvest that takes place at the end of the summer. Gilgamesh Brewing, which recently opened its second location in West Salem, takes pride in its efficient brewing systems and delicious unique brews. Head south of Salem to Stayton, Oregon, and check out the brand-new craft brewery Snow Peak Brewing. Click here to find more must-visit breweries.
Salt Creek Cider House, just outside of Dallas, Oregon, boasts hard cider made from apples and pears found in the farm's surrounding 20 acres of orchards. The entire family is welcome to explore the orchards, take a walk around the pond and enjoy the wildlife that visits the farm throughout the year.
Hang out and enjoy a sampling of the Northwest’s best ciders at Bauman’s Cider Festival, which takes place during the farm’s annual harvest festival, in Gervais, Oregon. Although children are welcome to attend (and will enjoy the harvest festival happenings), only those over the age of 21 can participate in the cider festival festivities.
If you're looking to stay in Salem, head to 1859 Cider Co. Visit the taproom in the heart of downtown to taste limited release ciders.
Discover History Indoors
For those days when the forecast seems unpredictable, take shelter in one of the area’s many museums while you uncover fascinating heritage. The Willamette Heritage Center is home to the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill and the oldest timber-frame structures in the state. Take a self-guided or docent-guided tour of the grounds to dive into the history of each building and its significance to the story of Salem.
Educate yourself on the past at The Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health. Learn the stories of the hospital and the people who lived and worked there through a series of engaging, interactive displays.
Can’t Miss Events:
- Sublimity Harvest Festival
- Independence Hop & Heritage Block Party
- Mount Angel Oktoberfest
- Rotary Multi-Sport Riverfest
- Grape Stomp Championship & Harvest Celebration at Willamette Valley Vineyards
- Oregon’s Bounty: A Fall Festival at the Capitol
- Enlightened Theatrics’ “The Rocky Horror Show”
- Oregon Garden Barn Dance & BBQ
- Wine Country Thanksgiving
- Salem Dining Month