While you’re visiting Oregon, you can’t leave without travelling through the great Willamette Valley. Stretching over 150 miles from the north to the south, this area or Oregon is known for its fruitful vineyards and incredible wineries. During the early 1800’s, Willamette Valley was once advertised as the “land of milk and honey” in order to draw settlers and pioneers to the area.
The Willamette Valley is nestled between the Cascade Mountains and the Oregon Coast Mountains with the Calapooya Mountains supporting it to the south. With the ultra rich soils, comfortable summer temperatures and moderate rainfall, this place is home to more than 70 percent of Oregon’s population. In fact, the valley includes some of the largest cities in the state such as: Portland, Eugene and Salem. (Salem is the state’s capital.)
Travelers love to explore the Willamette Valley for its wine, beautiful waterfalls, picturesque landscape and so much more. After all, it’s often referred to as “Oregon’s Wine Country” with over 500 wineries in the valley! Let’s take a look at some of the greatest things to see and experience while visiting the Willamette Valley!
You don’t visit the Oregon Wine Country and not try out some of their prize-winning wines and breathtakingly beautiful vineyards! Located 30 minutes southwest of Portland is the wonderful Ponzi Vineyard. Founded in 1970, this place has earned its prestige from the ultra rich soils of the Willamette Valley, their tremendous knowledge in farming grape vineyards and their explicable class in hosting dinner parties and romantic wine tastings. It’s no wonder that Ponzi Vineyards is known as a world-class wine region!
Ponzi’s Vineyard sits on a mountainous slope of the Chehalem Mountains and provides impeccable beauty of the Oregon Wine Country. They have a prestigious winery and tasting room that overlooks the vineyard. In the tasting room, you’ll enjoy sipping on your glass of Chardonnay by the fireside, underneath a flowered terrace and with perfected food pairings.
In addition to the wine tasting, they also have enjoyable bocce ball courts, concierge services, and winery tours. (The winery tours are only given by appointment.) As you already know, since Oregon loves their bicycles, Ponzi Vineyards is bike friendly.
Sahalie and Koosah Falls
Sahalie and Koosah Falls are majestic, white-foaming waterfalls that are situated along the McKenzie River and just outside of the city of Eugene. While visiting Willamette Valley, you don’t have to look very far in order to see something spectacular. The easy, 2 mile trail to Sahalie and Koosah Falls is a great way to experience an incredible sight without breaking too much sweat.
Surrounded by moist, green trees, grasses, and forest, the waterfalls roar and plunge over 100 feet into the lava dam.
The walking trail is open from March until October and enjoyed by folks of all ages.
Salt Creek Falls, Too Much Bear Lake and Diamond Creek Falls
Southeast of Eugene, Oregon is the 5 mile loop trail that takes you to the picturesque Salt Creek, Too Much Bear Lake and Diamond Creek Falls. Keep in mind that you’ll need a Northwest Forest Service Pass for this moderate hike, so don’t embark on this adventure without one!
Open from June until October, this hike allows you to experience the heart of Willamette Valley by giving you a trail tour of a waterfall, lake and another waterfall. You get a three-in-one deal! Since it’s a 5 mile loop, you’ll want to remember your water and wear the appropriate hiking shoes. However, the scenic experiences you’ll gain from these magnificent sights will last you a lifetime. The trail is a refreshing reminder of how hauntingly beautiful nature truly is.
Joe Palmer House
In Dayton, Oregon sits the famous Joe Palmer House. This family restaurant is known for its exquisite wine, fresh picked mushrooms and homemade truffles. In fact, most of their food dishes are made with mushrooms of the Willamette Valley. You could dishes such as mushroom tart, wild mushroom risotto or a rack of lamb with shitake mushrooms.
Their homemade truffles include the decadent lemon-lime emulsion truffle with escargot or the tasty berry white truffle with duck breast. Everything made comes from the rich soils of the valley. It wasn’t nicknamed the “land of milk and honey” 200 years ago for nothing!
Alas, the Joe Palmer House takes great pride in valley grown wines. The Pinot Noir is the restaurant’s number one choice in dinner wine. However, they have more than 600 pinot wines to choose from the menu! Unfortunately, they don’t post the wine menu online as several selections are often selling out. They ask that you call them if you’re interested in ordering a specific wine.
Tipi Village Resort
While in Willamette Valley, check out the unique Tipi Village Resort. It’s merely a 30 minute northeast of Eugene and nestled in the calm serenity of the forest. It’s quiet. It’s beautiful. It’s soothing to the soul.
It’s here that you can stay in furnished tipis that are designed to offer you peace. On the inside, the stone floors are inviting with the lush rugs and warm beds. If you’ve ever wanted to experience life in a tipi, this is it. It’s such a wonderful escape from the world as you rest amongst the wild in the safety of a cozy tipi.
There are bath houses nearby that provide everything that you need for cleaning up and preparing for the day.
Even better? The Tipi Village Resort serves breakfast on the patio. You can enjoy eggs, fresh fruit, cereal, milk, yogurt, toast, salmon and so much more. (Dinner is also available by appointment.)
If you’re needing time to decompress, this is the perfect place. You can sit outside and enjoy the melodies of the birds, feel the silence of the forest and listen to the trickle of the creek. And if you stay silent for long enough, you’ll view the Willamette Valley wildlife as well. Elk, deer, wild turkey and quail often sneak past the visitors and giving them beautiful moments of calm and serenity. If you’re wanting a place to escape it all for some time, visit the Tipi Village Resort. You won’t regret it.
Just south of Eugene is a prominent sight called Spencer Butte. This is one of thousands of scenic landmarks in the great Willamette Valley. With an elevation of 2,000 feet, this butte has timber, but the top is naked and rocky.
It’s a great place to hike with several trails that lead you to the summit. The beautiful trees that grow on Spencer Butte are mostly Douglas fir and provide ample shade during parts of the trails. Once you reach the summit, the trees are nowhere to be found, and the view is incredible. Be sure to have a camera nearby as you’ll not want to forget the sights atop of Spencer Butte.
Willamette Valley is 150 miles of adventure!
Known as Oregon’s Wine Country and once advertised as the “land of milk and honey”, you’ll enjoy exploring the many waterfalls, vineyards and wineries, and the culture of the valley. In addition to this, you’ll also enjoy the climate! With a desirable Mediterranean climate, the summers are usually dry while the fall and winter months are wet and snowy.
The best Pinot noir lives in the valley as it’s one of the most productive wine regions in the country. Ponzi Vineyard is only one of MANY Willamette Valley vineyards! Explore the valley and you’ll find many more!
Lastly, remember your camera and hiking shoes as you can thousands of nature trails to explore and sights to see! You’ll not want to miss out on capturing those breathtaking views. Plan out your itinerary and go explore the Willamette Valley. Beauty awaits you.