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Oregon – The Beaver State

Oregon is a fascinating state to visit. Despite its marginal location in the very northwestern tip of the United States, the neighbor state of the State of Washington attracts more and more visitors every year. They are looking to get away from the bustling cities of the north and find a peaceful natural surrounding with many extensive waterways, large woodland areas and with Portland a thriving community that expands annually.


While archaeological excavations in 1938 at Fort Rock Cave revealed a human presence in Oregon as far back as 13,200 years ago, luminary exploring names including James Cook, Lewis and Clark and David Thompson led to the establishment of the first permanent non-native settlement at Fort Astoria in 1811. Joining the Union in 1859, Oregon has been the setting of a number of conflicts over its relatively short history. Initial disputes between British fur trappers and American Indians were followed by two rounds of fighting between British troops and settlers, the War of 1812 and the Oregon Boundary Dispute. The building of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River in the thirties kick-started Oregon’s industrial expansion, and played a significant role in the development of the entire West. While still relying heavily on the US building industry, Oregon’s economy now also depends on tourism and technology, while sporting apparel giant Nike is based in Portland.

Geography & Climate

Bordering four other US states, Oregon’s northern and eastern boundaries are formed by the Columbia and Snake Rivers respectively. The State’s mountainous west was formed by the volcanic activity of the Juan de Fuca plate, where the so-called Coast Range is home to various species of rainforest. This is a heavy contrast to the desert landscape of the State’s southeast. A further contrast is the extremely fertile north-west, arguably the most agriculturally productive region of North America. The highest point in the State is the summit of Mt. Hood, at 11,239 feet, while the lowest point is sea level of the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon Coast. Almost half of Oregon is controlled by either the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.

Given the variance of terrain in the State of Oregon, it is little wonder that the climate is equally as diverse. While temperatures are generally mild, a result of the influence of the Pacific Ocean (especially in the west of the State), annual average rainfall greatly from the deserts of the east to the western coastal slopes. The monthly average high temperatures peak in the 90s in Medford in July and August, while the corresponding figure for the monthly average low drops to the chilly 20s in Burns in January.


Though Salem is Oregon’s capital city, Portland’s population of 568,000 makes it the state’s largest. Often achieving high rankings on “most livable city” lists, Portland is an ideal base for both the Pacific Coast and the Cascade Mountains. The Willamette Valley wine region is also close by, while a day’s skiing can easily be followed by an evening in one of the city’s micro-breweries. The public transport system is remarkably advanced for a mid-sized city, with buses, trollies, streetcars, trains and light rail ferrying tourists and businesspeople alike around the city – the “Fareless Square” also lives up to its name, ideal for an introductory look around the downtown area. City walking tours focus on the city’s fascinating art and architecture, while Forest Park has over 60 miles of trails for the more ambitious walker. As one would expect of such a cosmopolitan centre, bustling Portland becomes livable Portland as dusk sweeps over the city’s rivers and parks, with classical music, opera, ballet and theatre complementing engaging bars, restaurants and sports events.

Other Places to Visit

Oregon’s more than 400 miles of public coast offer in turn jagged cliffs, leafy rainforest, desert dunes and, of course, sandy beaches. Its population of roughly 3.5 million is spread over a large area, which may be a reason for the famed friendly, laid-back nature of Oregon’s inhabitants. The outdoor activities on offer in the state are naturally numerous; the diversity of Oregon’s natural wonders encompass the full gamut of sporting endeavors, from snow-skiing high on Mt Hood, to water-skiing along the sandy Pacific coastline, to all the hiking, biking and driving tours one could imagine.

The historic Columbia River Highway sweeps through astounding waterfalls, gorges and other natural phenomena, while a short detour off the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway from Charleston to Bandon Spur showcases a magnificent stretch of coastal grandeur, including Coos Head and Cape Arago. The Portland Rose Festival, Peter Britt Music Festival (Jacksonville) and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland) are just some of the internationally acclaimed festivals awaiting visitors throughout the mild summer and temperate winter months.

Alternatively, a quick getaway to Netarts Bay for a spot of crabbing may hold even more engagement with nature for the casual fisherman or woman than first meets the eye – unsuspecting visitors have often found the company of the seals and pelicans inhabiting the area preferable to the hustling working environment they have left behind.

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