Driving the Silver Falls Tour Route from Woodburn to Turner, Ore., reveals a landscape of hops fields, woods, and waterfalls, plus great stops along the way such as Mount Angel Abbey.
When traveling the Silver Falls Tour Route, brace yourself for mind-bending juxtapositions. This 55-mile drive from Woodburn to Turner, Ore., wiggles through a portion of the Willamette Valley settled by German pioneers, Swiss monks, and, more recently, Mexicans and Russians. The landscape is as varied as the people, with berry farms and hops fields alternating with woods and waterfalls.
Bargain hunters may not make it past the Woodburn Company Stores, Oregon's biggest outlet center. For a savory snack, stop off downtown at one of Woodburn's many authentic taquerías.
In the German-motif town of Mount Angel, drive up the bluff to Mount Angel Abbey, a 122-year-old Benedictine monastery with two eclectic museums. One spills over with Russian artifacts, the other with such curiosities as a stuffed eight-legged calf. Also check out the futuristic Alvar Aalto-designed library and the stately chapel, which reverberates several times daily with Gregorian-style chants.
Next up is Silverton, filled with murals and home to the 70-acre Oregon Garden, featuring 19 specialty gardens and a transplanted Frank Lloyd Wright house. If you prefer nature unpruned, head to woodsy, 8,700-acre Silver Falls State Park, with 10 waterfalls and a rustic lodge.
Wrap up your trek in Turner by sampling the pinot noir at nearby Willamette Valley Vineyards, one of the state's largest wineries. Climb the observation tower here for a panoramic view of the region's rolling hills. It's the most unforgettable sight of the trip, not counting the calf.
Illustration by Michael Klein
This article was first published in May 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Who will like it
Hikers, shopaholics, gardeners, architecture buffs, and wine enthusiasts.
When to go
Spring and summer are the prime seasons for flowers and waterfalls. To learn more, contact the Salem Convention & Visitors Association, (800) 874-7012, www.travelsalem.com.