The Woodburn Tulip Festival is in full swing again and it’s not the same one that I remember from just a few years back. I’ve been visiting here for the past several years and I used to go 2-3 times a year in order to get the best tulip shots. However, now it’s become such an overcrowded spectacle you would have a better time driving through Los Angeles traffic then run the course in Woodburn. I was very surprised that they had far less acreage of tulips than in the past but even more surprised to see a full on theme park going on near the main buildings. There must have been a dozen booths and over 25 rides for the kids. There was a lot more to do for people but it seems like the tulips are no longer the main course. They have even opened up three parking lots as well as increased the prices to park. You can’t blame the owners for seeing an opportunity to make good money since it has now become a cash cow for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make more money on parking fees, food and kid’s rides than they do selling their tulips. This is especially true since they didn’t have very many tulips on their farm. It was literally half the size as in the past. It also seems that they have increased the number of days that they run the festival. More days open means more money and that is a good business decision but it only increases the days of gridlock when driving through the area as well as the city of Woodburn. With all of the new people moving to the area I’m sure that the tulip festival seems like heaven on earth. Not a lot of flowers or vegetation in the southwest. I stopped counting all of the knee high white socks and sneakers. I haven’t seen that many pale tourists since Las Vegas or Disneyland. If you want to visit in order to get some good shots of the tulips, I would recommend that you go very early or towards the end of the day since it’s a mad house for most of the day. I thought that we could avoid some of the crowds, so we went at 4 pm but it was still a complete mess. All three of the parking lots were packed but at least we were able to find several spots since a lot of the visitors were leaving. We must have counted over 500 cars packed along the roads trying to leave. What really surprised me is that they no longer plant any of their tulips in the large garden along the main road. The photo that I posted was from the garden. I would just lay on my stomach in the grass and get a killer shot of the tulips bunched together. I used my Canon Rebel T1I and Tokina SD 12-24mm F-4 lens. I also attached my bubble level. I positioned the camera in order to get a shot with the stems, flowers and sky. The bubble level helped me ensure that the camera was straight. This was one of the best places to visit but it seems that they no longer plant in the garden any longer. Even though it’s way too over crowded, it’s still a great place to visit and I would recommend going but If you don’t like massive crowds blindly milling about, I would stay home.
If you’re interested in visiting one of Oregon’s best gorge hikes but unfortunately the most popular hike I would recommend the Eagle Creek trail. However, it has now become the most overcrowded and over used hike in the entire gorge. Tourists and recent transplants have overtaken the entire stretch of the gorge but Eagle Creek has really seen the most traffic. It’s really not surprising since there isn’t anywhere else in the lower 48 states like it but you can no longer hike the trail in solitude. If you find yourself driving along I-84, whiling looking for a good trail, you might want to take in consideration the parking problems that come with the popularity of your favorite hiking spot. The parking lots can be full very early in the morning and if you’re driving through during the afternoon it becomes more like a parking lot at a Walmart in Oklahoma. If you’re planning a trip, I would go very early in the morning and go during off season. There are a lot more hidden and less used trails in Oregon that I would rather go to during peak season. However, that said, The Eagle Creek trail offers some of the best waterfalls in the gorge. Punchbowl Falls is the most popular but Metlako Falls holds it’s own. If you want to get a really good view or take photos, you actually have to climb over the railing and brace yourself against a tree. However, you will want to be really careful since you will be standing just centimeters from a 100 foot cliff and you will certainly die if you fall. You can still get a good view of the falls from a safe distance but you get a much better view while in harms way. I took this photo of Metlako Falls while hanging on the cliff and it’s always worth the extra effort. You will want to use a tripod so you will want to be extra careful and you also want to ensure that you are braced against the tree since you can find yourself forgetting that you are merely centimeters from sure death. The best time to take photos of the gorge is during late Spring and early Summer. This is when the vegetation is lit up like a roman candle. You haven’t seen green until you have visited during this peak season. Seriously, the Oregon gorge green will make any other green look like brown. I took this shot while using my Canon Rebel T1I and attached my Sigma 17-70-mm lens. I also used my bubble level and remote switch. I also use a Manfrotto tripod but it’s not the lightest tripod. However, when you’re concerned about movement, it’s good to use a heavier tripod to ensure that you don’t have the slightest of movement. This is especially true since I set the shutter speed at 10 seconds and there was a breeze flowing up from below.