Oregon -

Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Oregon borders the Pacific Ocean on the west, Washington on the north, Idaho on the east, and California and Nevada on the south. The Columbia and Snake Rivers form, respectively, much of Oregon's northern and eastern borders. Between two north-south mountain ranges in western Oregon—the Pacific Coast Range and the Cascade Mountain Range—lies the Willamette Valley, the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region of the state.

Finding a more diverse landscape in the U.S. than Oregon is almost impossible. Oregon is famous for its tall, dense forests, accessible, scenic Pacific coastline, and its rugged, glaciated Cascade volcanoes. Few places offer more of a natural playground.

The origin of the state's name is something of a mystery. The earliest known use of this proper noun was in a 1765 petition by Major Robert Rogers to the Kingdom of Great Britain. The petition referred to Ouragon and asked for money to finance an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. In 1766, Rogers commissioned Jonathan Carver to lead such an expedition. In 1778, Carver used Oregon to label the Great River of the West in his book "Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America".

Poet William Cullen Bryant took the name from Carver's book and used it in his poem Thanatopsis to refer to the recent discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which helped establish the name in modern use.

Get in

By plane
Portland International Airport (PDX) is served non-stop by most major airlines and by several international carriers; it is the only international port of entry for Oregon. Mahlon Sweet Field (EUG) and Rogue Valley Airport (MFR) are served non-stop by feeder lines to Portland and other regional hubs such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Salt Lake City.

By car
Oregon has two Interstate Highways:
• Interstate 5 connects Medford, Eugene, Salem, and Portland, running north to the Canadian border of British Columbia, and south through the Willamette Valley all the way to San Diego, California, therefore connecting Canada and Mexico via 3 west coast states.
• Interstate 84 connects Portland, The Dalles, and Pendleton, running east to Boise, Idaho and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Oregon one of few states technically without speed limits, though exceeding a posted speed is a case of "guilty until proven innocent", the latter of which is unusual.

By foot
The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (which runs from Canada to Mexico) passes through Oregon along the Cascade Mountains. It is exceptional for experiencing nature while avoiding civilization. Only four highways cross the trail's northern 150 miles.


• Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Southwest Broadway at Main Street, Portland, (503) 796-6513. A treasure in itself, the concert hall is home to the Oregon Symphony.
• Council Crest Park, Southwest Council Drive, Portland, (503) 823-2223. You don't want your head in the clouds here. Portland's highest point offers breathtaking views of Mount Rainer, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood and Mount Adams.
• Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 15 South Pioneer Street, Ashland, (800) 219-8161. Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the festival is among the best of its kind in the world. Shows run from Feb.-June.
• Oregon's Scenic Byways. Nine breathtaking scenic route along Oregon's beautiful landscape include the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway and the Historic Columbia River Highway.
• World Forestry Center, 4033 Southwest Canyon Road, Portland, (503) 228-1367. The rain forest and petrified wood exhibits are both educational and exceptionally fascinating. 
• Crater Lake National Park. Oregon's only national park houses the Deepest lake in the world above sea level.
• Mount Bachelor. Enjoy skiing and snowboarding from November through May.
• Mount Hood. Something for everyone. From snowboarding and skiing (lift serviced year round), to snowshoeing, alpine slides, hiking, backpacking, and camping.
• Painted Hills, 75 Miles East of Bend. Part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument the approximately 1000 Hectare (3132 Acres) is among the most photographed areas in Oregon.
• Willamette National Forest. Offers numerous outdoor recreation activities including hiking, sailing, and camping at Waldo Lake.
• Wallowa Lake. One of Oregon's finest lakes. Beautiful scenery, camping, boating, fishing, hiking, eating, and lodging in the quiet town of Joseph.

Crater Lake National Park, Crater Lake


• High Desert
• Cascade Mountains
• Oregon Coast
• Willamette Valley
• Columbia Gorge
• Southern Oregon
• Eastern Oregon


Oregon's climate – especially in the western part of the state – is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean. The climate is generally mild, but periods of extreme hot and cold can affect parts of the state. Precipitation in the state varies widely: the deserts of eastern Oregon, such as the Alvord Desert, get as little as 200 mm (8 inches) annually, while some western coastal slopes approach 5000 mm (200 inches) annually. Oregon's population centers, which lie mostly in the western part of the state, are generally wet and soggy, while the high deserts of Central and Eastern Oregon are much drier.

Cannon Beach, Oregon, U.S.A.

Stay safe

Oregon State University offers a Saferide Program throughout the week.

Did you know?

In 2000, Oregon became the first state in the nation to conduct a presidential election entirely by mail. About 80 percent of registered voters participated.


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LastModified: Apr-12-10