Willamette Valley: Get Outdoors in Oregon Wine Country
So your love of food and wine is only equaled by your longing to get outdoors and explore? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
The Willamette Valley, also known as Oregon Wine Country, is nestled in one of the most scenic parts of the country, offering the perfect blend of luxury and natural beauty. Tour a flourishing wine region and take advantage of boundless outdoor escapes.
Adventure Seekers Welcome
Oregon Wine Country has countless options for outdoor adventure. Head to the Cascade Mountain Foothills and sign up with an outfitter for a true Pacific Northwest adventure – white-water rafting. Raft down Class II and Class III river rapids in the McKenzie, North Santiam and Clackamas rivers. If hiking is more your speed, the Willamette Valley is brimming with photo-worthy trails, including the 10 Falls Canyon Trail, Mary’s Peak, Iron Mountain, McDowell Creek and Spencer Butte.
If you enjoy being on the water as much as you appreciate good wine, some fun options await you on the Willamette River. Rent a stand-up paddleboard and go solo or join a group as you wind down the river. You can also opt for a kayaking excursion. Some local companies offer tours with stops at wineries along the way. Just park your kayak or board, and take a tour or head straight to the tasting room. If you love to horseback ride, you won’t be left out – you can take a riding tour through wine country.
Family fun on a rafting trip cascading down the McKenzie River
Landscapes like this are best savored on two wheels, and a number of bike touring routes put cyclists right in the middle of the scenery. On the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, pedal to wineries, farms and quaint country towns as you sip and whisk around the valley. Serious cyclists will want to follow the Cascading Rivers route set along the Brietenbush and Clackamas Rivers. You might see statuesque elk roaming along the heavily forested 112-kilometer route. Another fantastic bikeway to consider is McKenzie Pass. Set in the Cascade Mountains, the trail leads to an otherworldly lava-rock landscape; you’ll feel like you’re looking at the moon’s surface up close.
For a more family-oriented trip, pedal the leisurely Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway. Ride through covered bridges that start in historic Cottage Grove and end at Dorena Lake – the perfect spot for a picnic. Hardcore mountain bikers will want to hit up the tracks at Oakridge, Alsea Falls and Black Rock to put their skills to the test on exciting trails with amazing views.
Pedaling past vineyards on the Willamette Scenic Bikeway
Wine and Dine
If your idea of the great outdoors is simply sipping wine with a view, the Willamette Valley’s wineries offer a front-row seat. As you explore wine country from south to north, enjoy the beautiful surroundings in the Mid-Willamette Valley AVA and Eola-Amity AVA.
First stop: King Estate Winery in Eugene, where you’ll find ample vineyards, fields of lavender, a stately tasting room and a sustainable garden that supplies its on-site restaurant. Next, visit the historic town of Dayton, surrounded by a cluster of welcoming vintners. At Stoller Family Estate, sit in the sunlit tasting room and relax with views of the vineyards below while sipping world-class pinot noir or chardonnay. Tucked into a hillside, Domaine Drouhin is the perfect locale for French-inspired burgundies and pinot. Round out your tasting tour at Sokol Blosser, a LEED-certified winery set in a modern farmhouse showcasing top-ranked reds and whites. Try their barrel-aged French Oak chardonnay.
Sharing a meal under the stars paired with wine in a local vineyard
Fly into Portland International Airport (PDX), rent a car and drive 258 kilometers, or connect to Eugene Airport (EUG) and rent a car for an 83-kilometer drive into Willamette Valley, Oregon. Once you’re here, be sure to take the scenic route on national scenic byways exploring diverse landscapes throughout the Willamette Valley, including McKenzie Pass, Over the Rivers & Through the Woods and West Cascades scenic byways. Just for fun, take a detour off Interstate 5 along farmlands and mountain ranges on the Silver Falls Tour Route or drive the serene 32-kilometer Cottage Grove Covered Tour Route.