The town of St. Paul, Oregon, comes alive each summer for its nationally known rodeo. But the town of just under 400 people, as well as the bordering town of Butteville, Oregon, also offers breathtaking gardens, award-winning wines and some of the state’s most prominent historical locations.
Champoeg State Heritage Area is popular for its access to the scenic Willamette River, year-round camping in its yurts, cabins and tent areas and family-friendly hiking trails. In 1843, French Prairie settlers met at the park to vote on what resulted in the formation of the state’s first provisional government – making Oregon the first state on the West Coast and earning the park a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Newell Pioneer Village, located within Champoeg State Heritage Area, offers tours of four historic buildings, including the home of famous pioneer Robert Newell.
The tours are available on weekends in the spring, summer and fall. Head to Butteville Store, considered to be the oldest continuously-operated store in the state, to catch live music or treat yourself to a hand-dipped ice cream cone. Adjacent from the park sits the gorgeous farmlands and tasting room of Lady Hill Winery.
The winery is a nod to the family’s long lineage of female family members, who have farmed the property since the 1850s. A visit to the area would not be complete without stopping by a local farm stand or garden. In the spring, the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden flourishes with more than 600 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas complemented by trees, shrubs and wildflowers. French Prairie Gardens is a one-stop-shop for seasonal produce, fresh-baked treats, flowers and agritourism events throughout most of the year.
Distance from downtown Salem: 22 miles