While large cetaceans may not be among the first things that come to mind when planning a wine tasting trip, the Oregon Coast happens to be one of the best places in the world to spot whales. Every spring, 20,000 gray whales migrate north from Baja, Mexico to Alaska, passing the Oregon coast along the way. The deep waters of Depoe Bay are a particularly reliable whale-watching hub, located just an hour and 15 minutes southwest of the heart of wine country. On your way to the ocean, you’ll drive straight through the Van Duzer Corridor, a coastal valley crucial to the diurnal rhythms that help generate the distinctive acidity of the wines at Seven Springs Vineyard.
Spring is the ideal time of year to take a detour to the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range, where late-season storms can deposit feet of powder before dissipating into bluebird skies that make for conditions straight out of a skier’s rêverie. Mt. Hood boasts the longest ski season in North America, with operations continuing through Memorial Day thanks to the stubborn snow of the Palmer Glacier on the 11,245-foot stratovolcano’s south flank. Meanwhile, Mt. Bachelor offers a cornucopia of dry powder and sunny days in Central Oregon’s high desert. The city of Bend, OR - only minutes away from the mountain - also offers a stimulating après-ski scene, replete with craft breweries, restaurants, and art galleries.
The two colors visitors associate most prominently with Oregon tend to be green (for the state’s plentiful Douglas firs) and grey (for the wet weather). However, as winter begins to loosen its grip, a majestic abundance of hues blossoms everywhere from the alpine meadows of the Cascade Range to the urban parks of Portland. For a slightly off-the-beaten-path experience, visit Camassia Natural Area in West Linn, where glades of brilliant blue-violet common camas illuminate a rocky plateau. Further afield, the Mosier Plateau east of Hood River offers a stunning palate of yellow balsamroot and purple lupine blooms amidst golden grasses overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.
Even though spring in Portland can be quite wet, a few raindrops never get in the way of gastronomic indulgences. Luckily, the city has one of the most impressive concentrations of quality restaurants in the United States, and March happens to be Portland Dining Month. Throughout the month, chefs all over the city celebrate Portland’s culinary delights by offering unique 3-course meals for $33. This year, Evening Land favorites Davenport and Jacqueline are participating, along with a host of other top establishments. It’s a great opportunity to sample the cutting edge of Portland’s food scene on the cheap.
Spring’s higher temperatures cause snow to melt high up in the mountains, feeding the Northwest’s numerous waterfalls, which surge and roar spectacularly at this time of year. Panther Creek Falls, located on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, is a less-traveled, complex waterfall cascading 136 feet over two mossy tiers and easily accessible via a 1-mile hike. Hug Point Falls, located five miles south of Cannon Beach, is another hidden wonder. Though decidedly small at only 15 feet, this waterfall drops directly onto a wild and picturesque cliff-lined beach. Be sure to visit at low tide otherwise, you’ll find the beach covered by the frigid Pacific.