I recently got my first taste of the lush Pacific Northwest rainforests that cover much of Oregon. I’ve experienced tropical rainforests on trips deep into Mexico, but the concept of rainforests in USA, let alone in the northwestern corner of the country, is such a change from the dry tundras of Colorado that i’ve grown accustomed to. Stepping foot into one of these forests is such a powerful sensory experience that you have to inhale as much as you take in with your eyes. I set my sights on the nearby Willamette National Forest , which covers 1.6 million acres with its temperate rainforests. I was curious to see what the air smelled like in the spring, as we visited back in January while Oregon was covered under a deep blanket of snow. I remember the winter air, filled with the crisp, overpowering aroma of pine. Fast-forward two months to April, and spring was well on it’s way. When I stepped out of my car at the trailhead to Sahalie Falls, my nostrils were inundated with this sweet, velvety smell as though I had just set foot in a giant greenhouse teeing with life. I probably looked a little crazy standing there, vacuuming the sweet air into my lungs like some kind of addict that couldn’t get enough; but you would’ve done the same, no doubt.
A quick walk through the forest, and the trail opens up to the roar of the massive 100ft tall Sahalie Falls. This is a place where words fall short; a place that you need to see (and SMELL!) to believe. I voraciously consumed photos of this waterfall on instagram before moving here, and not a single photo captures the sheer scale or the falls or the power of the McKenzie river and it’s glacial blue waters. I’ll let you have a look at this gorgeous waterfall and the nearby Koosah Falls along the Mckenzie River, but you’ll have to settle for some scratch ‘n sniff action on your laptop display until you see it for yourself. If you’re planning a trip here, I highly advise using Visit Bend and Travel Oregon to plan your adventure. Take Travel Oregon’s virtual tour with a robot salmon–HIGHLY advised 😀