The Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley, which was the main destination of the Oregon Trail pioneers, is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world. This is something that is meaningful not only to long-ago pioneers or present-day residents, but to nearly every visitor.
Wineries abound, as do plant nurseries and U-pick berry fields. During the spring, the tulip and iris fields are beautiful, especially when (as is not uncommon) they’re backed up by a rainbow. Superb green beans, the highest-yielding sweet corn in the United States, and grass seed and hazelnuts that dominate world markets compound the impression of pastures of plenty.
The Willamette Valley is also the population center of Oregon, supporting 100 cities and 70 percent of the state’s population. (Geographically speaking, Portland is part of the Willamette Valley, but it has its own section in this travel guide.)
Nonetheless, once you get south of Portland’s suburbs, you’ll seldom have the feeling of being in a big metropolis, which is partly thanks to the state’s land-use regulations, which have historically sought to preserve agricultural land.
This mix of environmental conservation, excellent growing conditions, and culture is probably best exemplified by the phenomenal success of the winemaking industry. Best known for the cool-climate wine grapes, Oregon’s handcrafted wines are produced in small lots rather than corporate quantities.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel