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Explore Oregon’s Cascades Mountains: Waterfalls and Hotsprings along the McKenzie River Corridor

Ready to feel the exhilarating rush of fresh air and crystal clear water as you journey into the Cascade Mountains along the McKenzie River? If you want to explore the McKenzie River, Hwy 126 is your way in and we can show you the way!

Venture west on Hwy 126, where the Aufderheide Byway connects the McKenzie River area to Hwy 58, for popular cycling routes and fall-color viewing. This route is also home to Terwilliger Hot Springs and Delta Old Growth Grove Nature Trail. Make note, this route is not maintained during the winter and is generally open May -October.

Follow along the river from the Willamette Valley to land at the breathtaking Sahalie and Koosah Falls, located between milepost 5 & 6 on Hwy 126. Sahalie Falls plunges 100 feet over a lava dam and then tumbles 40 feet in a series of cascade and Koosah Falls is an 80-120 ft plunge over an abrupt lava cap to the waiting pool below.

From there, head back on Hwy 126 to reward yourself with a soak in a natural hot spring. Belknap Hot Springs is open to the public for an hourly or daily fee and also home to peaceful, beautifully tended gardens.

Up for more adventure? This route is also a gateway to two scenic byways, Hwy 242 and the Aufderheide (USFS Road 19).

Hwy 242, known as Old McKenzie Highway, is home to some of Oregon’s most dramatic views that appear along a narrow and winding road. Following that road, you have access to Dee Wright Observatory and Proxy Falls. As a scenic byway, Hwy 242 is typically open to traffic from May-November depending on weather.

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10 Years of Trolley Tours in Corvallis

August 7, 2017 | Mary Pat Parket
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Corvallis invites you to hop on the trolley this summer for their 10th Annual Trolly Tour series.

Since 2007, the Historic Preservation Commission has hosted an annual trolley tour of historic homes in and around Corvallis. These hour-long tours offer a fascinating look at local Corvallis architecture and the people that made it happen. Many of the downtown buildings on tour date back to the 1800’s, including the Benton County Courthouse – the oldest courthouse in the state that still operates to this day with its’ original purpose.  In addition to being a valuable stop on the trolley tour, the Benton County Courthouse offers an insider tour weekly where you can visit actual courtrooms with handcrafted and functional artwork.

Tours are available August 12th and 26th. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited for each tour. Make your reservation today by calling the Visit Corvallis office at (541) 757-1544.

For more information about all Corvallis Courthouse tours please contact the Courthouse elections office at (541) 766-6828.

15 Years in the Making – Albany’s Historic Carousel Opens its Doors

August 6, 2017 | Sherri Pagliari
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Albany Oregon, situated in the heart of the Willamette Valley, will soon be known as the community where talented workers came together to volunteer their time and talents to create a destination unlike any other. For the long-awaited Albany Historic Carousel & Museum will open at last!

In a newly constructed building located in near the center of Albany’s celebrated downtown district, the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum is a testament to dreaming big. From humble beginnings, this story is one that should inspire communities across the globe.

A Dedicated Community Rebuilds History
The carousel project began 15 years ago with a vision and a donation from a local resident.  That simple act spiraled into a full-blown non-profit association that attracted volunteer artisans and sponsors from all around Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The carving and painting workshop at the carousel became a beehive of community activity as “lions and tigers and bears” came to life under loving hands. Because of volunteer’s tireless efforts the carousel will consist of 52 hand-carved animals ranging from a seven foot plus tall giraffe, dogs, cats, zebras, unicorns, dragons, and yes, even lions, tigers, and bears! The animals will be situated in three rows, where the outside row (large animals) will be “standers”

No matter your age, make plans to visit Albany and be among the very first to ride this amazing work of art. Everyone is welcome to the bright and spirited community where dreams really do come true.

What You Need to Know When You Go

  • Grand Opening: August 15, 2017 is the slated date for a ribbon cutting and door opening event for all to enter and enjoy. The carousel will be open seven days a week, excluding major holidays.
  • Food: Concessions such as hot dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks will be available. For a more substantial meal, there are several restaurants within walking distance to choose from.

Contact: For detailed history, images of animals and artisans, building updates, and ticket prices, visit the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum website at www.albanycarousel.com/

Move over Goats, Alpaca Yoga is totally a thing

Yes, Alpaca Yoga is totally a thing, and it’s happening every Monday at Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch in Molalla – a scenic working alpaca ranch that makes for the perfect spot to relax, get your stretch on, and hang out with some adorable animals.

Alpacas are hilariously curious animals with quirky personalities, and, yes, it just so happens that they thoroughly enjoy watching people do yoga. They’ve even been known to sit next to yogis in the midst of their workout, just to get a closer look at what they’re doing. All that human stretching seems to peak their curiosity.

Even if you’re not a practiced yogi but still want to check it out, feel free to try. Poses are kept simple so as to keep from intimidating both people new to yoga and skittish alpacas. The best part is, after the workout, you get to sample award-winning Willamette Valley wine from nearby wineries.

Classes are held on Mondays at 7:00 p.m. at Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch off of HWY 213 just outside of Molalla.

Five areas to explore in Oregon’s North Santiam River Country

Oregon’s North Santiam River Country, located approximately an hour east of Salem, abounds with outdoor recreational opportunities. Situated in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the area offers endless opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, fishing, nature viewing and water sports. Before the summer runs out enjoy these five places worth exploring.

  1. Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area

Take a trip through history on a hike to Jawbone Flats. First inhabited by Native Americans, Jawbone Flats is believed to have been a summer camp for the Santiam Molalla Indians. In 1930, the town was transformed into a mining camp, where they processed lead, zinc, copper and silver. Today, visitors can trek 6.5 miles on a round-trip adventure to Jawbone Flats and Opal Pool with its beautiful emerald waters set amidst lush old growth forest.

  1. Elkhorn Valley Area

Located just outside of the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area is Salmon Falls Park, where the Little North Fork of the Santiam River drops nearly 30 feet to a pool below. The scenic area is forested and is ideal for summer picnicking, fishing and water activities.  Just a five-minute drive from the park is the trailhead to Henline Falls. The less than two-mile trail takes hikers to the gorgeous 125-foot waterfall and a crystal-clear plunge pool.

  1. Jefferson Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness covers more than 100,000 acres of the Cascades and more than 163 miles of trail. From day hikes to backpacking trips, there are miles of wilderness to explore.

The Whitewater Trailhead, which is suitable for horseback riding, provides access to six trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail. The 11-mile round-trip trail (#3429) leads hikers into the Jefferson Park Area, which is filled with alpine lakes, wildflowers and hiking trails. The trail also provides dramatic views of Mt. Jefferson.

  1. Detroit Lake Recreation Area

Known as the “most visited lake in Oregon,” Detroit Lake is a popular location for boating, fishing, biking, swimming and camping. The nine-mile lake is stocked annually with 125,000 rainbow trout. Fishermen can also find kokanee, Chinook salmon, brown bullhead, largemouth bass and pumpkinseed in the reservoir. The Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway stretches from Detroit to Estacada, with forests, rivers and campsites along the way.

  1. Breitenbush Area

The Breitenbush River is a tributary of the North Santiam River. Along the river’s path, you’ll find ancient forest trails, relaxing hot springs and numerous campgrounds. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center offers an escape from everyday life. Located in a rugged and beautiful mountain setting, Breitenbush is home to several hot springs. The clothing-optional pools are only open to guests of the resort. The resort is also surrounded by many miles of ancient forest trails where the sights and sounds of the river accompany hikers. Day passes are available, but reservations are required.

After spending the day (or days) exploring the outdoors in North Santiam River Country, you’ll find some great places to grab a bite or relax with a glass of wine or craft beer. In Mill City, Giovanni’s Mountain Pizza is a popular spot for a post hike meal. As you continue west towards Salem, stop at Piluso Vineyard & Winery in Aumsville and enjoy a glass of estate-grown wine in the Vintner’s Garden. In nearby Silverton, enjoy craft brews paired with locally sourced food at popular Seven Brides Brewing.

Photo Credit: Ron Cooper

Bikes, Barks and Brews in the Willamette Valley

July 30, 2017 | admin
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Guest Post by Long Haul Trekkers

The Willamette Valley is clearly known for all that wine produced, but it is also the second largest hops producer in the United States. All those hops, as we well know, is what make Oregon beer so prolific.

In June, Jen and Dave set off on what we called the Oregon Rode Trip, a cycle tour traversing three of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways with our rescued Australian Shepherd, Sora, in tow. While we do love our Oregon wine, we craved our favorite hoppy adult beverage after two years away cycling across Europe and South America (also with Sora!).

As we planned the first leg of our ride along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, we searched for all the beer spots located near the route. Fortunately for us, there are no shortage of dog-friendly breweries and beer bars to be found in the Willamette Valley. Oh, and we’re vegan, too. In Oregon, not a problem.

Salem

Cold and heavy rains guided us the entire 40-mile ride to Salem, finally letting up as we pedaled through the neighborhood streets toward our lovely B&B, The Century House. A dog-friendly accommodation with with innkeeper Jean, herself an avid cyclist who has cycled 33 states, who went above and beyond to accommodate our bicycles, Sora, and our vegan diet.

We met friends at Taproot Lounge + Cafe in downtown Salem for dinner, which has something for everyone, including plenty of vegan options. We both went for the curry bowl, washed down with a local IPA from Santiam Brewing. With all the local beers on tap, picking just one was tough to choose! We left Sora at home that evening since it was a bit chilly, but there are several outdoor tables that can accommodate dogs.

Ankeny Vineyard

Wait a minute, this is supposed to be a beer trip! Why yes, but when you pass a winery directly on the path at lunchtime that allows dogs inside and serves pizza, well you can’t very well pass it up. Since the weather was still a bit chilly and because we could bring Sora indoors, we opted for a wine tasting to accompany our pizza. With a wine dog of their own, Ankey Vineyard welcomes dogs with open arms while their humans enjoy sipping on award-winning wines.

 

Corvallis

We took a small detour after lunch en route to Corvallis, our destination for the evening. Dave had been suffering from a flu and we needed to cut off some miles, so we opted to take the Buena Vista Ferry across the Willamette River. Shortly after rolling into the Holiday Inn Express, we set off soon after for one of our favorite dog-friendly breweries in the state: Block 15 Brewing. As we do with every visit, we both ordered the Sun Burger, a veggie patty made by local vegetarian restaurant Nearly Normal’s. As for beer, one round simply wasn’t enough, so we just had to go for two.

Agrarian Ales

The clouds finally gave way on our fourth day of riding, and we even spotted some blue above as we eagerly made our way to what was perhaps our favorite stop on the bikeway: Agrarian Ales. Located on the longtime family farm, you won’t find traditional PNW hoppy IPAs served from the taps here. That’s because Agrarian grows 100% of the hops used in their beers. A true farm-to-table brewery, much of the food served out of the restaurant is grown on the property and that which is not, is purchased from the farmers’ market in nearby Eugene. Stop in to try one of the best pizzas in the Willamette Valley (which devastatingly was not available at the time of our visit, as they were working hard on building a bigger and better brick oven to keep up with demand). They are also super dog-friendly and took in Boo, a sweet stray who wandered on to the farm several years ago on Halloween.

Eugene

Technically, the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway ends in Armitage Park Campground, where we spent our first night in Eugene, but in need of a rest day, we stayed for two full days in the college town.

Our first intended dinner stop after setting up camp was one of our favorite dog-friendly breweries, Ninkasi. However, a sign indicated that this was the one night dogs were not allowed due to a visit from Dimitri the Owl from the Cascades Raptor Center. How very Oregon of them. Instead, we opted for the Beer Garden, a fantastic spot with 42 beers and ciders on tap, several food carts to satisfy your hunger, and a huge dog-friendly patio.

The following day, we headed to Tap & Growler to meet our friends from Burley Design, where we toasted our two years of working together and finally having the chance to meet in person. Tap & Growler serves just about any liquid beverage you could ask for with 81 taps pouring beer, cider, kombucha, mead, wine, cold-pressed coffee, and soda. With several vegan options, it took me awhile to pick just one, but we both ultimately went for the curry bowl with veggies and tofu piled over basmati rice.

Even with all of our brewery and pub visits, we barely put a dent in what is available in the Willamette Valley. In our search, we found countless dog-friendly restaurants serving healthy vegan foods and look forward to cycling the route again to try the ones we missed during this visit!

 

Farm, Feast + Wine in Yamhill County

July 27, 2017 | Karla Erovick
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If you appreciate meals prepared using farm-fresh ingredients and world-class wines enjoyed in a casual wine country setting, then you simply must experience Bounty of Yamhill County (BOYC).

This three-day food and wine event showcases top farms, chefs and wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley through a variety of activities and events including farm-to table dinners and outdoor adventures like hiking, paddling and hot air ballooning. BOYC was voted Top 10 Best Food Festivals by USA TODAY 10Best and The Culture Trip.  While you’re having fun, you’re also supporting YES, a local cultural nonprofit that supports programs in arts, music, education, food, and agriculture, right here in Yamhill County.

Experience a farm-to-table dinner at Kookoolan Farms with farm owners Chrissie and Koorosh Zaepoor, where you will tour the property and later enjoying a four-course dinner prepared by Chef Paul Losch of Ruddick/Wood crafted from Kookoolan poultry, beef, lamb, and produce raised specifically for the event, paired with estate and single vineyard wines from Erath, Dundee Hills’ first winery.

Two “Grill & Chill” dinners are casual buffet meals, one is hosted by WillaKenzie Estate with a menu from McMinnville’s Valley Commissary, and the second is at Dobbes Family Estate prepared by Storrs Smokehouse.

Activities include a hot air balloon ride over wine country, a vineyard and olive orchard hike at Durant Vineyards/Oregon Olive Mill, followed by lunch prepared by Chef Paul Bachand of Recipe and a food, and wine pairing experience at Soter Vineyards. Sunday offerings feature Dundee Hills wine tasting by horseback with Equestrian Wine Tours and a guided paddle on the Willamette River with Alder Creek Kayak both include a catered picnic lunch from Red Hills Market.

The BIG NIGHT, is the signature event at Sokol Blosser Winery, featuring a walk-around feast of seasonal delights, prepared by chefs from 20 county restaurants. Menu items will be created from ingredients provided by 20 county farms and accompanied by selected wines from 25 Yamhill County vintners. Guests can win their favorite Yamhill County wines at the Wall of Wine station.

Tickets range in price from $60 to $225 and must be purchased in advance. Attendees must be 21 and older. Visit http://www.bountyofyamhillcounty.com for event details and to purchase tickets.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Johnson Photography

A Wine Country Getaway for You and Your Four-Legged Friend

Summer is finally here and we know you are looking for a reason to rush to the Willamette Valley. Well don’t leave your pup at home because the Oregon’s Wine Country offers up plenty of Pinot for you and playful adventures (on both water and land!) for your pooch.

Check out CityDog Magazine’s feature on Oregon Wine Country’s greatest summer getaways for you and your furry friend (s)!

Linn Benton Farm-to-Table Dinner Series

June 8, 2017 | Becca Barnhart
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Visit Corvallis and the Albany Visitors Association are pleased to produce a series of farm-to-table dinner parties this summer.

The series will begin on June 18 at Garland Nursery in Corvallis, with additional farm-to-table dinners scheduled for July 22 at Tyee Wine Cellars south of Corvallis, Aug. 12 at the Weddle Covered Bridge near Sweet Home and Sept. 10 at a private garden overlooking the Willamette River in Albany.

Guests will be able to meet local chefs and learn about the food they prepare and how they source it. They’ll also sample fine vintages from local wineries and learn about their wines and vineyards. These experiences will pair to create an intimate gathering and a memorable culinary experience at a beautiful location.

A portion of the proceeds from these events will be donated to charities and nonprofit organizations, as well – great food and wine for great causes! Charities benefiting from the series will be Community Outreach Inc., Oregon Public Broadcasting, Albany’s Regional Museum and the Albany Veterans Day Parade.

Find more about the event series and get your tickets today!

Use Bike Concierge to Explore Mt. Hood Territory’s Wine Scene

April 12, 2017 | Jarrod Lyman
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Now that spring is finally arriving in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory and Oregon Wine Country, Oregonians are coming out of their caves to stretch their legs, looking forward to outdoor activities this beautiful region has to offer. Or, perhaps they are looking forward to begin enjoying the fruits of our winemakers’ labors. In a perfect world, we could combine those two.

Guess what? It’s a perfect world. Who knew?!

The Bike Concierge has crafted an amazing tour that combines our love if cycling and the outdoors with our love of awesome wines into a 15-miles, three-winery tour. Peddle your way to Christopher Bridge Winery, King’s Raven Winery and Villa Catalana Cellars to enjoy some pretty awesome wines paired with truly beautiful countryside.

Thom Batty and his amazing support staff will be at your side during the ride offering as much or as little assistance as you want. Need a tour guide? Let Thom fill you in on what you’re seeing on the journey. Need a break? The support van will be tailing your tour and allow you to hop aboard and rest your legs. They’ll also be there to store your wine purchases, so you can load up with bottles (or cases!) of your new favorite vintages.

If you’re more into craft beers or spirits, let the Bike Concierge offer a tours of our unique craft beer scene as well. If you have a group of mixed wine lovers, craft beer aficionados and even fans of spirits, their newest tour hits up Coin Toss Brewing, either King’s Raven or Villa Catalana Winery and new kid on the block Trail Distilling. The Bike Concierge will work with you to craft the perfect tour that hits all the goals you have in mind for your vacation.

When you combine our amazing wineries with great bike tours, you get a winning combination for your next trip to and through Oregon Wine Country. See you on the trails!