Oregon, United States

About Oregon

Oregon is in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern boundaries respectively. Salem is the state's capital and third-most-populous city; Portland is the most populous. Portland is the 30th-largest U.S. The valley of the Willamette River in western Oregon is the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region of the state, and is home to eight of the ten most populous cities. Oregon enjoys a diverse landscape including a scenic and windswept Pacific coastline, the volcanoes of a rugged and glaciated Cascade Mountain Range, dense evergreen forests, and high desert across much of the eastern portion of the state. The towering Douglas firs and redwoods along the rainy Western Oregon coast provide a dramatic contrast with the lower density and fire prone pine tree and juniper forests covering portions of the Eastern half of the state.

Oregon Tourism and Recreation

Oregon's abundance and variety of natural features and recreational opportunities make the state a major tourist attraction. Among the leading attractions are the rugged Oregon coast, with its offshore salmon fishing; Crater Lake National Park; the Rogue River, for river running and fishing; the Columbia Gorge, east of Portland; the Cascades wilderness; and Portland's annual Rose Festival. Oregon has one national park, Crater Lake, and three other areas—John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon Caves National Monument and Ft. Clatsop National Memorial—managed by the National Park Service. The US Forest Service administers the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, on the Oregon coast; the Lava Lands Visitor Complex near Bend; and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, east of Enterprise. Oregon has one of the nation's most extensive state park systems: 225 parks and recreation areas cover 90,000 acres.

Oregon Climate

Oregon's weather and climate are affected by large-scale circulation in the atmosphere; by regional influences involving the Pacific Ocean, the shoreline, and the interior; and by local characteristics, such as topography. Local conditions are influenced by all of these, and more: distance from the coast, elevation, and terrain orientation (for example, north- vs. south-facing slopes) can have profound climatic effects.

The north-south orientation of the coastline is almost directly perpendicular to the prevailing atmospheric flow at upper levels. The steep and rugged topography leaps from the sea nearly everywhere except where major rivers pour their contents back into the Pacific Ocean. The effect of this combination on moisture-laden air is to produce copious precipitation. On both local and regional scales, the interaction between ocean, land and topography produces considerable complexity in the resulting spatial structure of climate elements.

Locations in western Oregon receive the bulk of their annual precipitation during winter. Although there is some variation with latitude, the wettest months tend to be the November-March period. Although significant precipitation can occur during the warm season, average totals during those months are generally lower than during winter. East of the Cascades, however, the annual distribution is much more uniform, with some locations receiving more precipitation in summer than in winter.