Weekly Update 11/11/2011

Strong winds and steady rains have made way for winter, though Oregon’s fiery fall foliage is still abundant in several portions of the state. Gain an early start on your Christmas shopping at holiday bazaars or relax and enjoy the late autumn ambience on art walks and wine tours. Honor our Veterans at a variety of parades and patriotic events across Oregon. With the onset of wintery conditions in some areas, be certain to visit tripcheck.com before taking off on your adventures around the state.

The Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway in Cottage Grove

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
The fall color change is at peak in the lower elevations of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. Leaves are starting to fade and are completely gone in some higher elevations. Spark your holiday shopping while enjoying some tasty treats at the 16th Annual Holiday Food & Gift Festival or take advantage of pre-season sales at the Holiday Open House.  Sample over 20 coffee infused beers at the 16 Tons Coffee Stout Fest, including a local favorite from Oakshire. Bound your way through the brisk November air at Run with the President. Highway 126 and the Aufderheide still provide scenic drives though Highway 242 will be closed once it sees a bit more snow or ice.

Fall colors and blue sky in Astoria

Coast
The fall color change is at peak along some portions of the Oregon coast, while other parts are near peak. Bring back the sounds of summer by catching the Beach Boys in concert at Chinook Winds Casino Resort.  Before the holiday rush kicks in, women can savor some downtime at the Women Only Weekend. Tantalize your taste buds at Lincoln City’s Seafood and Chowder Cook-Off or sample some fine wines at the Seaside Downtown Wine Walk. With winter on the horizon, mark your calendars for festive family fun along the coast. Ring in the holiday season at the Shore Acres Festival of Lights or start your shopping at the Astoria Winter Market.

Willamette Valley
The fall color change is at peak in parts of the Willamette Valley, while the colors are starting to fade in other areas. View the work of over 30 artists at the 20th Annual Coastal Hills Art Tour. Start your holiday shopping at the St. Mary’s Holiday Bazaar or treat your ears to the sophisticated sound of Italian concert pianist Mariangela Vacatello. Treasure your freedom at Albany’s Veterans Day Parade, the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi.

Greater Portland
The fall color change is at peak in the Greater Portland area. Come in from the cold and experience some the area’s great museums including The Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro. The Portland Art Museum provides interest for all ages including The Artist’s Touch, The Craftsman’s Hand – a Japanese wood block print exhibit – or the LEGO Castle Adventure. Photographers and leaf peepers alike should take advantage of Free Admission Day at the Portland Japanese Garden where the colors are truly popping. Wander through Washington Park or Tryon Creek State Park for additional flourishes of stunning fall foliage.

Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge
The fall color change is at peak in Mt. Hood Territory and along the Columbia River Gorge. Reds, golds and oranges are exploding from the branches while easterly winds have started to knock down leaves. Find a sense of calm at Benson Lake State Park or watch the salmon swim upstream Eagle Creek Fish Hatchery. Spice up your holiday décor with a trip to the Country Christmas Bazaar.

Central Oregon
The fall color change is almost over in Central Oregon. Shuffle through an assortment of leaves at Drake Park or walk through downtown Bend where a few trees are still hanging on to their color, despite the early emergence of winter. Bend has a surplus of sites to enjoy the snow including Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, which offers downhill and Nordic skiing, while numerous sno-parks offer terrific terrain for snowshoers, Nordic and back-country skiers and snowmobiling.

Eastern Oregon
The fall color change is starting to fade in the higher elevations of Eastern Oregon. Take in the last bits of fall color along the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway or add some culture to your day with a performance from the Grande Ronde Symphony. Find some holiday stocking stuffers at The Art of Giving before prepping your investigation skills for the upcoming Ghost Hunters Weekend.

Southern Oregon
The fall color change is at peak in Southern Oregon, though more leaves are falling with each day’s rain. Catch the Southern Oregon Concert Band’s opening show of the season at the Veterans Day Concert “John Phillip Sousa: An American Patriot” or enjoy a variety of patriotic numbers while finding fresh vegetables and fruits at Kruse Farms. See some of the year’s best international flicks at the Archaeology Fest Film Series.

Hunting for Eastern Oregon’s Fall Colors

Eastern Oregon University library

Eastern Oregon University library, La Grande

Oregon’s east side is a landscape of diversity. Often pictured as “high desert,” this expansive region actually is home to five mountain ranges, the deepest river gorge in North America, two National Scenic Byways, three Oregon byways, and yes, a sagebrush or two. Fall golden colors are found in cottonwoods and quaking aspen along the rivers and trickling down gullies on the rolling hills like warm yellow honey. The bright red sumac bushes are stunning in the fall and often provide a nice respite for deer, elk, and even an occasional black bear. Lining the quiet streets of Eastern Oregon’s historic little towns, you’ll find maple, birch, and horse-chestnut showing off their colors. Not to be up-staged by the foliage, the geology also offers an amazing pallet in the rock and sediment formations of the John Day River Territory.

Painted Hills

Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Traveling to the eastern portion of Oregon does take a bit of planning for your fall color hunting trip. The tank needs to be full; the evenings will be chilly, so throw on a jacket and a pair of good shoes. There are plenty of options for accommodations and many great places to fill up the ‘tummy’ tank too. After a day of hiking or driving the scenic byways hunting for colors, a hand-crafted beer is definitely in order. Eastern Oregon’s six micro-breweries are becoming known worldwide. Pick up a ‘Beer Tag’ (yes, hunting is BIG in this region, even when hunting beers!) in Pendleton, Baker City, Joseph, Enterprise, La Grande, or Ontario and participate in this ‘Controlled Hunt’ to sample some great beers.

Union House
Union House

The best time to visit Eastern Oregon for colors is late September into November. Find more at: VisitEasternOregon.com

Weekly Update 10/28/2010

Hills Creek Reservoir, Oakridge, OregonHills Creek Reservoir in Oakridge, Oregon

With many regions reporting peak color changes, this is a wonderful week for exploring Oregon’s gorgeous fall foliage.  Lower elevations are reporting vibrant peak colors, while much of the higher elevations around the state saw the first snowfall of the season. This a wonderful week to see the beautiful contrast of bright fall color and fresh white snow; just be sure to check road conditions before you drive to the higher elevations. With Halloween weekend quickly approaching, there’s also plenty of harvest celebrations to enjoy while you marvel at the peaking street trees in many of the Oregon regions.

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Fall color is at or near peak in Eugene and at the central Oregon coast and just starting to fade in the Cascades. The red osier dogwoods of Eugene and Springfield are near peak, while the big leaf maples are peaking and the ash trees are just starting to fade. Hike along “Theodore’s Trail” at Mount Pisgah; you’ll get a stunning view of the farmland along Seavey Loop and the brilliant colors of the trees along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River. For Halloween fun, visit the largest collection of jack-o-lanterns in the Northwest at the Fifth Street Public Market. In the Florence area, leaf watchers expect to see the brown crunchy leaves falling to the ground very soon. The first snow has fallen along the McKenzie River, offering a striking contrast of white snow mixed with bright red leaves. Bundle up and visit Sahalie and Koosah Falls this weekend for beautiful views.

Coast
The leaves are at peak along most of the coast. This past week brought plenty of wind and buckets of rain to the northern Oregon coast, so maple leaves with the bright yellow and red tinge of fall colors are barely hanging onto the stems. The leaves are brought down during rain showers, leaving a trail of color scattered on the streets. Travel west along Highway 26 from Portland to the Oregon coast for a nice scenic drive. Coos Bay is at peak this week, with rich red and gold maples throughout town. Drive the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway from Reedsport to Coos Bay for the best views.

Willamette Valley Fruit Farm
Have some family fun this weekend at the Willamette Valley Fruit Company in Salem, offering hayrides, a barrel train, a corn cannon, and of course, plenty of pumpkins.

Willamette Valley
The leaves are at or just past peak in the Willamette Valley. Colors in Salem are at peak or just starting to fade, and the Cascades and Coastal Range are past peak and fading. The urban walks in the towns of Oregon Wine Country are the best bet for viewing fall color this week. Wander along the Willamette River at Salem Riverfront Park or the Eugene and Springfield Riverbank Trail. Visit the Mushroom Festival at Mount Pisgah Arboretum to see the big leaf maples popping with a glorious yellow-orange all over the mountain.

Greater Portland
The leaves are at peak color change in the greater Portland area. Right now, it is impossible to miss the fall color, no matter where you are. Stroll the Park Blocks downtown, NW 23rd Avenue in Nob Hill or the streets in the Hawthorne area to see some of Portland’s charming neighborhoods brilliant with seasonal color. This weekend, visit the Portland Farmers Market on the Park Blocks downtown, or head out to the pumpkin patches in Sandy, Oregon.

Mt. Hood/ Columbia River Gorge
Lower elevations on Mt Hood are at peak and displaying a lot of brilliant reds, yellows and golds. With snow in the higher elevations of Mt Hood, now’s the time to snap a photo of the beautiful contrast of fall color and winter white. Multnomah Falls is peaking, and leaf watchers expect 1-2 more weeks of brilliant colors. Hike the Horsetail Falls Loop in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to get breathtaking views of the Oneonta Gorge and Canyon.

Southern Oregon
The leaves are at or approaching peak in most of Southern Oregon. Fall color is fading at Crater Lake and being replaced with a fresh batch of snow. Ashland reports reds and yellows with a backdrop of green. Take in the rich fall color while hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, or take the kids to the Halloween Costume Parade. Grants Pass and Klamath Falls are just reaching peak and displaying a nice range of red, orange and yellow. Drive down towards Indian Mary Park, or take your family to visit the corn maze at Fort Vannoy Farms for Halloween.

Central Oregon
The leaves are at peak and just beginning to fade in Central Oregon. Our leaf-peeping friends in Bend recommend warming up with a bowl of chili at the McMenamins Old St. Francis Pub, where you can see the full range of red, orange and yellow against some remaining green. Continue along the Bend Ale Trail, where your journey of delicious brews will lead you to a commemorative Bend pint glass.

Eastern Oregon
Most of Eastern Oregon is approaching peak color change. The Steens Mountains are past peak, and most of the leaves have faded and fallen. Hike near Big Indian Gorge to get the last views of fall colors. The Wallowa Whitman National Forest is seeing a wide range of reds and yellows, and Hells Canyon is packed with a rainbow of fall foliage.