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Five Colorful Mural Trails Around the Willamette Valley

By Matt Wastradowski

For thousands of years, countless stories have been told and thousands of lives have been lived in the Willamette Valley's forests, farmlands, rivers, and cities. And in recent years, much of that history has been immortalized by inventive artists in dazzling murals all over the region. 

Colorful salmon, reclusive cougars, child prodigies, covered bridges, and even a resilient dog have all been depicted on murals around the Willamette Valley-so why not explore the creativity of Willamette Valley artists, marvel at the colorful paintings, and explore the region's history through one of its many mural trails?

We've rounded up five self-guided mural trails to explore around the Willamette Valley. Here's a rundown of where to look, and what you'll see in each community.

20x21EUG Mural Project (Eugene)

Nearly two dozen artists from around the world painted murals for the the 20x21EUG Mural Project in Eugene. (Photo: Melanie Griffin / EugeneCascadesCoast.org)

Perhaps the Willamette Valley's newest series of murals, the 20x21EUG Mural Project was developed to celebrate the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 event, scheduled for July-August 2022 in Eugene.

The 20x21EUG Mural Project brought together nearly two dozen artists from around the world-including painters from Brazil, Japan, France, Argentina, Afghanistan, and several from the Eugene-Springfield area-to create colorful displays all over town. See where to find 20x21EUG murals around the city.

Corvallis Mural Project (Corvallis)

More than 20 murals comprise the Corvallis Mural Project. (Photo: Alison Smith)

Since 2016, the Corvallis Mural Project has worked to add more than a splash of color around downtown. Over the years, the project has spawned more than 20 murals throughout the Corvallis core, with a handful of others around town.

But the murals don't just brighten up otherwise drab walls: They pay tribute to (and connect with) the region's Native American cultures, local wildlife, the Willamette Valley's rich farmland, and the natural beauty around Corvallis.

Learn more about the Corvallis Mural Project, and see where to find murals in Corvallis.

Murals in Silverton

Bobbie the Wonder Dog is immortalized on a mural in downtown Silverton.

Since 1992, the Silverton Mural Society has spearheaded an effort to celebrate the city's rich history and notable personalities with more than 30 murals around its charming downtown core.

One of the murals, for instance, celebrates June Drake-a local photographer who in 1931 used his photos of Silver Falls to convince lawmakers to protect the waterfalls as a state park. Another celebrates Bobbie the Wonder Dog, a scotch-collie mix who was separated from his owners while on vacation in Indiana in 1923-but who reappeared on their doorstep in Silverton, six months later, having traveled more than 2,500 miles on his return trip.

Visitors interested in viewing the various works, each painted by a local artist, can download the free Silverton Mural Society app (available for iPhone and iPad). The app shows where to find all the murals and goes into detail on what (or who) each represents and honors.

Murals in Cottage Grove

More than 20 murals dot the downtown core in Cottage Grove. (Photo: Joni Kabana)

At the southern edge of the Willamette Valley, Cottage Grove is awash in history-and celebrates its past with 21 murals throughout town.

Murals in Cottage Grove touch on a wide swath of the community's history. One commemorates the making of the Buster Keaton movie The General (which was filmed in 1926 around Cottage Grove), while others showcase nearby covered bridges, historic advertisements, and Opal Whiteley-a child prodigy whose diary, The Story of Opal, Journal of an Understanding Heart, would become a national bestseller in 1920.

Learn more about the murals around Cottage Grove, along with where to see each.

Mural Walking Tour (Springfield)

This Simpsons mural is a popular photo stop in downtown Springfield.

The community of Springfield boasts a wide-ranging history: It's the namesake for Homer and Marge's hometown in The Simpsons; author Ken Kesey (who'd go on to write the likes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion) grew up in the city; and anglers have fished the waters of the McKenzie River-which flows through town-for generations.And that history shows up on the many murals-nearly 20, in all-along Springfield's popular Mural Walking Tour. Most of the murals are situated along Main Street, but others are sprinkled throughout downtown. (Click here for a PDF map of Springfield's murals.) The paintings honor Springfield's rich history, with nods to its agricultural roots, the Oregon Trail, Kesey, and-of course-the Simpsons.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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