Oregon - Nature and Scientific Wonders | Travel | Smithsonian
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Oregon - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Oregon - Nature and Scientific Wonders

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The Coast
Oregon's nearly 400 miles of coastline changes from rugged cliffs to evergreen forests to sandy dunes. From Astoria in the north to Brookings in the southern tip, find restaurants with legendary seafood, historic lighthouses, and stunning state parks.

A wealth of outdoor activities—cycling, crabbing, whale watching, surfing, deep-sea fishing—are available on Oregon's coast. Hike the 360-mile Oregon Coast Trail through beaches, coastal forests and urban areas, or go camping against a stunning ocean backdrop. Sea Lion Caves, north of Florence, is reportedly the world's largest sea cave. Take the elevator deep down into the 12-story-high cave to watch sea lions and hear their roar in the natural amphitheater.

Columbia River
Travel the Columbia River Highway, a scenic drive that Teddy Roosevelt once praised for its beauty and engineering. The mighty Columbia River, like many rivers in Oregon, is known for its world-class fishing of many varieties including steelhead and sturgeon. At the border between Washington and Oregon, visit the Columbia River Gorge. Dramatic cliffs, some as high as 4,000 feet, form a passage across the Cascade Mountains for the Columbia River. Learn about the rich history of the river at Astoria's nationally acclaimed Columbia River Maritime Museum or the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Wasco County Historical Museum in The Dalles.

Mt. Hood
The snow-capped mountain rises 11,237 feet above the Mt. Hood National Forest below. First known to the Northeast Native Americans as Wy'East, Mt. Hood is a Cascade volcano that geologists say may someday become active again. Travelers can enjoy the mountain at four ski areas, one of which offers North America's longest ski season. Run-off from Mt. Hood's volcanic slopes enriches soil in the valleys below, making the Hood River Valley one the largest fruit-growing regions in Oregon with apricots, apples, blueberries, pears, and grapes for wine.

Hells Canyon
See North America's deepest river gorge at the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area at the Idaho border. The Snake River carved this great gorge that drops more than a mile below Oregon's west rim and 8,000 feet below He Devil Peak in Idaho.

Crater Lake
At a depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and the seventh deepest in the world. The lake formed after Mount Mazama erupted nearly 8,000 years ago. In 1902, Crater Lake and its nearly 250 surrounding square miles were named a national park. Visit this park in Southern Oregon to see the lake's clean blue water reflect the mountains around it.

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