Willamette Fish Hatchery is located in the foothills of the Cascades at the bottom of Willamette Pass. A little over a thousand feet in elevation, you wouldn’t know that we have dubbed our town as the “banana belt”, with clear skies, warmer temperatures, and beautiful sceneries compared to the rest of Lane County; however, when winter comes, it is transformed! A Winter Wonderland is disguised along hwy 58. About 30 miles west of Eugene, you get a hint of snow on the road, and then as you turn through the winding trees, it opens up to you, Oakridge, blanketed in white. The fish hatchery is just about the last public stop off of highway 58 on Fish Hatchery Rd, before you start climbing the mountain to the pass. Usually covered in asphalt and your ears are flooded with the sound of running water from all the fish ponds; it is now covered in almost eight inches of snow. Birds in the aviary are quietly nestled in their brooding boxes, snow has dampened the sound of running water, there is no one playing in the miniature/educational golf course, and even the hatchery vehicles are all asleep under white blankets, but for one lonely feed cart that can only be heard by the soft crunching of the tires on the snow. It is especially beautiful to just walk 200 yards up the road to the bridge that crosses over Salmon Creek. A picture of white with a trickling creek that runs through the rocky white banks is as beautiful as a picturesque Christmas card.
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