Ecola State Park, Oregon © Cacophony
The state of Oregon has one of the most diverse landscapes of any state in the US, with its towering mountains, thick forests, arid scrublands, wide prairies, deserts and scenic Pacific coastline. Oregon lies in the northwest of the US, bordered by the ocean, and the states of California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada. Along its northern boundary lies the Columbia River, and its area encompasses the fertile Willamette Valley and two mountain ranges (Pacific Coast and Cascade) where lift-serviced alpine skiing is offered.
Most of Oregon's countryside, from beaches and valleys to mountain peaks, is remarkably unspoiled, and the state has been dubbed 'God's country'. Oregon boasts natural attractions like Hell's Canyon, the deepest river-carved gorge in northern America, as well as more than 6,000 lakes (including famous Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the USA), and more than a hundred thousand miles of rivers and streams. In addition, more than half of the state is covered in natural forest. This makes it a delight for nature lovers, although its merits as an outdoor adventure tourist destination are slightly marred by an over-abundance of rain.
Although Salem is the state capital, the largest city in Oregon is Portland, straddling the Willamette River. The modern, compact and vibrant city of Portland is the commercial and touristic hub of the state, famed for its locally brewed beer and multitude of roses.
It is far easier to head west on the 'Oregon Trail' today than it was for the historic pioneers in their covered wagons, but visitors are no less delighted by the charms of this destination than were the gutsy emigrants of the mid-1800s.