From landscape to wineries: the most popular spots in Willamette Valley

Stunning waterfalls, state parks, scenic bike routes, quaint towns, and some of the best wineries in the US can all be found in the Willamette Valley. Surrounded by mountains on 3 sides, the Cascade Range to the East, the Oregon Coast Range to the West and the Calapooia Mountains to the south, this valley in western Oregon has a lot to offer. If you’re looking to move to this area and are searching for houses for sale in Lebanon Oregon, a visit to the Willamette Valley is sure to tickle all your senses. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a foodie, or a wine connoisseur, many new experiences await.


Natural beauty

Most brokers in Lebanon OR would probably agree that it’s impossible to cover all of the natural attractions worth visiting in the Willamette Valley. We are going to try and give you a taste of what you might be able to find.

Only 25 miles east of Salem is the Silver Falls State Park. It opened in 1933 and today it attracts about a million visitors a year. No wonder it is referred to as “the crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system. One of its most fascinating features is the South Falls. They are a part of a unique hiking trail – the 7-mile long loop called the Trail of Ten Falls. It goes through a densely forested landscape of the park and the waterfalls are set along a rocky canyon. At the South falls you have a very rare opportunity to see a waterfall up close. So close, in fact, that you can see this 177-foot tall water curtain from behind.

Oregon Garden spreads over 80 acres in Silverton, about 40 miles north of Lebanon. This botanical garden comprises more than 20 different gardens, all formed and planned around various themes. These include Children’s Garden, Rose Petal Fountain, Tropical House, Bee Apiary, among others. Close to the Visitor Center is the Sensory Garden – a therapeutic setting designed to be enjoyed by everyone, and accessible to persons with limited visual and mobility abilities. It features an in-ground compass, a wood trellis of Port Orford cedar, and a rain curtain. You can also choose to stay overnight in Oregon House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright’s realized project in Oregon.

Neighboring Marion county, home to Oregon gardens, is Linn county, where you can find the best real estate agencies in Lebanon. It is also home to Willamette National Forest. One of its not-to-be-missed areas is Clear Lake. About 3000 years ago, there was a volcanic eruption. The lava flows from the High Cascades dammed the Mckenzie River creating this true gem of natural beauty. As its name suggests, the water here is transparent up to the depth of 200 feet, which makes it one of the best spots in the United States for freshwater diving. At the depth of 100 feet, you can see an ancient forest. Due to the year-round cold water temperatures, the trees are exquisitely preserved. If you prefer to remain above the surface, there are plenty of activities you can enjoy, such as kayaking, fishing, paddling. You can also remain on dry land and soak in the spectacular landscape surrounding this pristine lake by taking the 5-mile hiking trail which brings you views of the lake itself, as well as Mt Washington and the tips of the Three Sisters.

Another way to revel in the beauty of the Willamette Valley landscape is by bicycle. The Scenic Bikeway is the first official bikeway in the United States. You can make as many stops as you wish on this route, and some of them could even be to taste some of the locally produced wines.


Cultivated delicacy

The agricultural richness for which the Willamette Valley has become more widely known in recent years is, at least in part, due to the geological events that took place some 14 000 years ago. At the end of the last ice age, the Missoula floods brought rich volcanic and glacial soil from what is today Eastern Washington to Willamette Valley. Today, this area of mild climate produces over 170 different crop and livestock items, including legumes, berries, field crops, tree fruits, and, possibly most notably, grapes. Oregon is among the top 5 states of wine production in the US (alongside California, Washington, New York, and Pennsylvania). Most of its delicious wine is made right here in the Willamette Valley.

The history of American wine is short compared to the one of the Middle East and Europe for example. Despite this perceived lack of experience, American wines nowadays have become both popular and critically acclaimed. This is especially true for Pinot Noir produced in Oregon. Interestingly, the Willamette Valley is at the same latitude as the Burgundy region of France, the birthplace of the black pine (pinot – pine, noir – black). As its name suggests, the shape of these grapes resembles pine cones. They tend to grow in tightly packed clusters, making them not so easy to grow and transform into wine. Winemakers of the Willamette Valley most certainly rose to the challenge. Modern winemaking started about 50 years ago when the first pinot noir grapes were planted in the Willamette Valley. These days other wine varieties are produced – including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling.

There are a multitude of vineyards and wineries spread all across the Willamette Valley, and choosing just one might be a challenge. But just as it is with homes for sale in Lebanon, if you know what you’re looking for, the right one will find you. And it doesn’t always have to depend on your taste in wine. If you’re looking to bring your furry companions, some wineries will be more than happy to welcome you and your four-legged friends. On the other hand, many others take the environment very seriously and are LIVE (Low-Impact Viticulture and Enology) certified. The entire wine production is striving for socially responsible environmental practices, including landscaping, packaging, and labor. These wines are most often Salmon-Safe and organic or biodynamic.

Thanks to the beneficial weather conditions in the Willamette Valley and the large number of fresh produce grown, there are plenty of possibilities for rich culinary experiences. Farm to fork tours, for example, celebrate each step in the food production and make for an alluring experience that is both delicious, informative, as well as sustainable.

Even though everything is slowly opening up, whichever place you decide to visit, it is probably best to call ahead, make reservations, and enjoy your exploration of this fascinating region safely. Cheers!