It’s officially spring in the Pacific Northwest, and many of the flowering trees are showing off their spring colors of pink and white blossoms. First to bloom are the plum trees with their intense pink blossoms. Soon to follow will be the cherry blossoms with their cotton candy pink color. And don’t forget the many acres of fruit orchards that the region is well known for, especially apple, cherry, and pear.
In Oregon, some of the largest fruit belts in the country are located there, in particular, pears. The region I am referring to is the Hood River Valley, located in eastern Oregon and south of the Columbia River Gorge. A few years ago I read about the plentiful pear orchards in the so called “fruit loop” and marveled at the photos of the acres and acres of beautiful, white pear blossoms. I made up my mind that I was going to schedule a trip to the region to see for myself this Spring nature wonder. I was not disappointed. In fact, I returned the following year to revisit the region. It’s one of those kind of “soul renewal” trips. It’s so beautiful! Also, be warned that you’ll be astounded by some of the most spectacular views of Mt Hood guarding over the valley. You’ll get some of your best photos of the mountain and valley early in the morning. As midday approaches, the sun will be over the mountain. A really good viewpoint to take a photo of the Hood River Valley and Mt Hood is at a spot called Panorama Point County Park, located off Oregon Hwy 35. Watch for the sign as you start to climb up from the Columbia River Gorge. This is the main highway from Interstate 84 that you can take to visit the “fruit loop.” The photo above was taken from Panorama Point. Lovely, isnt’ it? You can get more information about Hood River Valley at the official Hood River County website as well as the upcoming Hood River Valley Blossom Festival. It is best to contact some of the businesses in the area before making the trip to find out just when the orchards are in full bloom, usually some time in April.
The Hood River Valley is divided into three sections: lower valley, middle valley, and upper valley. The majority of the fruit orchards are located in the middle valley. The upper valley orchards come into bloom the latest, as they are at higher elevation and closer to Mt Hood. You will really get some good close-up views of the mountain summit from the upper valley. There are a few orchards to visit in this area, in particular, the Parkdale area. You can access this area by following Hwy 35 south to Hood River Community and then hang a right at the general store on the corner, or you can follow Dee Hwy 281 via the lower valley. Visit the Hood River Fruitloop website for more info and a detailed map of all the farms to visit.
There is much to do and see in the Hood River Valley and not just during the spring. Visit during the summer for wine sampling and in the autumn for harvest festivals.