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Adventure in Oregon

2nd April 2012 Print
McKenzie River

Oregon is a dramatic land of many changes. Rugged coast, high mountain passes, lush greenery, magnificent waterfalls, lava beds and forests create a natural beauty, preserved for all to experience and enjoy. With 35 wilderness areas, 14 national forests and Crater Lake National Park, there are hundreds of adventures around every corner. Oregon is divided into seven regions:

The Coast
Metro Portland
Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge
Willamette Valley
Southern Oregon
Central Oregon
Eastern Oregon

The Coast

Oregon's share of the Pacific coastline owes its international reputation to the rugged beauty and natural wonders found all along its nearly 400-mile length.

Lewis and Clark ended their epic journey on the north coast near Astoria - a wonderful place to start yours. The entire coast is studded with singular sights, from dramatic rock formations to churning whirlpools to miles and miles of sandy beaches.

The rich history of the coast is offered up in the world-class Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, a host of museums and historic homes, and inside Oregon's lighthouses. Some of the state's best camping parks are on the edge of the ocean, as are recreational opportunities galore - whale watching, fishing, golfing, surfing and hiking.

Metro Portland

A civic-minded population, acres of park space, fabulous restaurants and a vibrant arts scene - what more could you want in a city? How about a pair of snow-capped volcanoes in the backyard and a river running through downtown? We've got that, too.

Portland's legendary scenic beauty is surpassed only by the myriad of cultural opportunities it offers. The microbreweries, museums, wine bars and arts enclaves of Oregon's biggest city are easily accessed by an award-winning public transit system. Light-rail service, dubbed MAX, is offered even from the airport to the heart of downtown and to the friendly towns of Gresham to the east and Beaverton to the west. All Portland buses, MAX trains and the sleek Euro-designed streetcars are free in Portland's "Fareless Square" district, which covers most of the downtown area.

Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge received the federal stamp of approval when it was named a National Scenic Area in 1986, but Oregon's first inhabitants appreciated its pristine beauty long before then.

Today, majestic Mt. Hood and the towering cliffs of the gorge look down on fishing boats and working tugs, but it doesn't take much imagination to picture Native American fishing platforms and laboring pioneers.

The area boasts a bountiful fruit industry, quaint riverfront towns and some of the world's best windsurfing waters. Mt. Hood's year-round recreation agenda features skiing, snowboarding, hiking, camping and biking. And best of all, everything is just a short drive from Portland.

The Willamette Valley

The Willamette Valley is the heart of Oregon's agricultural country - and it's a big heart. Besides fruits, nuts and vegetables, farms in the valley grow everything from Christmas trees to flowers to front lawns.

Many pioneers found their promised land in this valley; and some of their descendants are still working that land today. During growing seasons (and sometimes year-round), roadside stands dot picturesque country lanes, and farmer's markets appear in the valley's historic towns.

A burgeoning wine industry is gaining prestige for its vigor and for Oregon's top varietal: Pinot noir. The valley's flat terrain and temperate climate make it a favorite for hikers and cyclists, who also enjoy the paved bike paths in the college towns of Eugene and Corvallis.

Southern Oregon

The glowing green of growing valleys, the sparse beauty of high desert country - you get all that and more in the climatically diverse Southern Oregon. World-class fishing and rafting rivers vie for attention with mountain biking and desert hiking. Then there's the clear blue water of Crater Lake, one of Oregon's most spectacular natural wonders.

Southern Oregon is home to a pair of well-known festivals celebrating music and theater, as well as historical museums, arts communities, antique malls and thriving winery industries in several of its many valleys. History buffs will recognize the region as the site of Oregon's 19th-century gold rush, an era preserved for posterity within the boundaries of the entire town of Jacksonville.

Central Oregon

Central Oregon's climate - lots of sun in the summer, lots of snow in the winter - is the reason it's known as a sports paradise. Coveted fly-fishing rivers and world-famous golf courses are irresistible attractions along with popular outdoor activities including hiking, rock climbing and snow sports of all kinds.

Cowboy adventures, whitewater rafting, quiet mountain retreats - Central Oregon has it all. The region's geological history, marked by explosive volcanic activity, is showcased at several parks, and its rich cultural history is on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend.

An impressive collection of quality restaurants and lodging is spread throughout the region, with its quaint towns providing a vibrant nightlife and arts scene.

Eastern Oregon

The spirit of the West is alive and well in the high desert of Eastern Oregon, where snow-capped mountains, dusty plains and jagged red rocks look down on rolling hills of sage, wild rivers and fertile wheat fields.

The legendary figures who passed through or lived in Eastern Oregon, including Chief Joseph, Lewis and Clark, and the Oregon Trail pioneers, provide a window into the region's rich history. Visitors today can still see wagon ruts of these early residents.

Interpretive centers bring bygone days to life, as do the historic hotels and bed and breakfasts sprinkled throughout the region. Small towns with frontier charm still largely intact nurture a lively arts scene, and the area's ranching history is celebrated each year with a rodeo that draws an international audience.

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McKenzie River