While temperatures may be hovering near zero in many parts of the country, the Willamette Valley’s temperate climate translates into relatively mild weather throughout the winter. Sure, it’s rainy, but with a bit of rain gear and the right attitude, you can explore the outdoors and then step inside and cozy up with a glass of wine at any of the area’s many boutique wineries.
For an authentic outdoor adventure near Salem, head to the Detroit Lake Recreation Area. Located in the heart of the Willamette National Forest, much of this 3,500-acre area is accessible year round. If you like to hike or snow shoe, you’ll enjoy many miles of trails that meander through misty, old growth forest and snow-covered clearings. Also located just a few miles east of Detroit is the McCoy Creek snowmobile area, featuring 60 miles of well-maintained trails and a designated snowmobile shelter.
Stay overnight at The Lodge at Detroit Lake. These cozy cabins offer the best of both worlds: a rustic lodge feel combined with modern amenities including flat screen TV’s, gas fireplaces and jetted tubs. Be sure to stop at Rosie’s Mountain Coffeehouse in Mill City for their mouthwatering scones or a steaming bowl of homemade soup.
Winter is also an ideal time for wildlife viewing in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Just west of Salem lies the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge – a sanctuary for wintering geese, great blue heron, Bald Eagles and more. You’ll also find a number of award-winning, boutique wineries nearby. Enjoy wood-fired pizza paired with estate grown wines at Left Coast Cellars and be sure to stop at neighboring Johan Vineyards – a certified biodynamic and organic vineyard producing pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay and sparkling rosé.
For a cold weather outing inside the city limits, head to Minto-Brown Island Park in Salem. This 1,200-acre natural park offers more than 30 miles of trails for walking, jogging and biking and also boasts one of the largest off-leash dog parks in the Northwest. After exploring Minto-Brown, warm up with a glass of Willamette Valley wine at area spots with a fireplace including Bentley’s Grill, Gilgamesh Brewing or Willamette Valley Vineyards.
For more ideas about exploring the Salem area this winter, visit the Official Salem Area Website www.TravelSalem.com.