Oregon Almanac: Mountains to National Wildlife Refuges

Mountains, Major

Rhodedendrons with Mount Hood in the background
Mt. Hood is the tallest peak in the Oregon Cascades. (Oregon State Archives Photo)
Blue Mountains: This northeastern Oregon mountain chain is part of the Columbia Plateau, which extends into southeastern Washington. Lava flows cover much of the surface, and the upper, wooded slopes have been used for lumbering. Today, recreation and livestock grazing are the principal economic uses. The highest elevation is Rock Creek Butte (9,105'), located on the Elkhorn Ridge a few miles west of Baker City.

Cascade Range: This lofty mountain range extends the entire north–south length of Oregon east of the Willamette Valley. It lies about 100 to 150 miles inland from the coastline and forms an important climatic divide, with the western slopes receiving abundant precipitation but the eastern slopes very little. The western slopes are heavily wooded, with the eastern section mainly covered by grass and scrub plants. Many lakes and several large rivers are in the mountains, the latter harnessed for hydroelectric power. The range is used frequently for outdoor recreation. The highest elevations are Mt. Hood (11,239'), located in Clackamas and Hood River Counties; and Mt. Jefferson (10,495'), located in Jefferson, Linn and Marion Counties.

Coast Range: The Coast Range runs the length of the state along the western coastline, from the Columbia River in the north to the Rogue River in the south. These mountains contain dense soft-wood forests, which historically made lumbering an important economic activity. Their eastern slopes mark the western edge of the Willamette Valley. The highest elevation north of Coquille is Mary’s Peak (4,097'), located in Benton County. The highest elevation south of Coquille is Mt. Bolivar (4,319') in Coos and Curry Counties. 

Klamath Mountains: The Klamath Mountains in southwestern Oregon are sometimes included as part of the Coast Range. These mountains include numerous national forest and wildlife preserves and contain scenic portions of the Klamath River. The highest elevation is Mt. Ashland (7,532'), located in Jackson County.

Steens Mountain: This is a massive, 30-mile-long mountain in the Alvord Valley, featuring valleys and U-shaped gorges that were cut by glaciers one million years ago. Located in Harney County in southeastern Oregon, it is 9,773' in elevation.

Mountains, Major Highway Passes

yellow autumn leaves
Autumn colors along Highway 20 near Tombstone Pass in the Cascade Range. (Oregon State Archives Photo)
Cascade Range: 
Highway 20: Santiam Pass, 4,817', Tombstone Pass, 4,236'
Highway 26: Blue Box Pass, 4,024'
Highway 35: Barlow Pass, 4,157', Bennett Pass, 4,674'
Highway 58: Willamette Pass, 5,126'
Highway 66: Green Springs Summit, 4,551'
Highway 140: summit east of Fish Lake, 5,105' 
Highway 242: McKenzie Pass, 5,325'
Coast Range: 
Highway 6: Wilson River Summit, 1,586' 
Highway 18: Van Duzer Summit, 793' 
Highway 26: summit west of Elsie, 1,309'
Highway 34: Alsea Summit, 1,203' 
Highway 42: summit near Camas Mountain, 1,472'
Eastern Oregon: 
Highway 20: Drinkwater Pass, 4,212', Stinkingwater Pass, 4,848'
Highway 26: Blue Mountain Pass, 5,109', Dixie Summit, 5,279', Keyes Creek Summit, 4,382', Ochoco Pass, 4,722'
Highway 95: Blue Mountain Pass, 5,293'
Highway 395: Battle Mountain Summit, 4,270', Idlewild Summit, 5,340', Long Creek Mountain Summit, 5,101', Starr Summit, 5,152'
Interstate 84: Deadman Pass, 3,815', Ladd Creek Summit, 3,619'
Southern Oregon: 
Highway 140: Blizzard Gap, 6,122', Bly Mountain Pass, 5,087', summit at Doherty Rim, 6,240', Quartz Mountain Pass, 5,504', Warner Pass, 5,846'
Highway 199: summit at Hayes Hill, 1,640'
Interstate 5: Canyon Creek Pass, 2,020', Sexton Summit, 1,956', Siskiyou Summit, 4,310', Stage Road Pass, 1,830'

Mushroom, State

chanterelle mushrooms
Pacific Golden Chanterelle mushrooms.
The 1999 Legislature recognized the Pacific Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus) as the state mushroom. This mushroom is a wild, edible fungus of high culinary value that is unique to the Pacific Northwest. More than 500,000 pounds of Pacific Golden Chanterelles are harvested annually, representing a large portion of the commercial mushroom business.

Name of Oregon

The first written record of the name “Oregon” comes from a 1765 proposal for a journey written by Major Robert Rogers, an English army officer. It reads, “The rout . . . is from the Great Lakes towards the Head of the Mississippi, and from thence to the River called by the Indians Ouragon.” His proposal rejected, Rogers reapplied in 1772, using the spelling “Ourigan.” The first printed use of the current spelling appeared in Captain Jonathan Carver’s 1778 book, Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America 1766, 1767 and 1768. He listed the four great rivers of the continent, including “the River Oregon, or the River of the West, that falls into the Pacific Ocean at the Straits of Annian.”

While no definitive pronunciation of “Oregon” is given in Oregon Geographic Names, the most common pronunciation by long-time Oregonians is “OR-ee-gun.”

National Cemeteries

Tokatee Falls
Tokatee Falls waterfall in the Umpqua National Forest. (Oregon State Archives Photo)
Willamette, Portland
Eagle Point, Eagle Point
Roseburg, Roseburg

National Fish Hatcheries

Eagle Creek, Estacada
Warm Springs, Warm Springs

National Forests

Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Malheur, Mt. Hood, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Umatilla, Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman, Willamette

National Grassland

Crooked River - near Madras

National Historic Sites

Crater Lake’s Superintendent’s Residence; Fort Astoria; Fort Vancouver (Oregon/Washington); Jacksonville’s Historic District; Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse, Old Town Historic District and Aubrey Watzek House; Timberline Lodge; University of Oregon’s Deady and Villard Halls; Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge; Oregon Caves Chateau; John Day’s Kam Wah Chung Company Building; Joseph’s Wallowa Lake Site; Lake County’s Fort Rock Cave

National Monuments

Paulina Lake
The view of Paulina Lake from Paulina Peak in Newberry National Volcanic Monument. (Oregon State Archives Photo)
Cascade-Siskiyou, near Ashland
John Day Fossil Beds, located in three units near Kimberly, Mitchell and Fossil
Newberry National Volcanic Monument, near Bend
Oregon Caves, near Cave Junction 

National Parks

Crater Lake
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park (Oregon, Washington)
Nez Perce National Historical Park (Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington) 

National Recreation Areas

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (Oregon, Idaho)
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area 

National Scenic Area

Columbia River Gorge 

National Trails

California National Historic Trail
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Oregon National Historic Trail: 2,170 miles from Independence, Missouri, to the Willamette Valley of Oregon, passing through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.

National Wildlife Refuges

Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. (Oregon State Archives Photo)
Ankeny, near Jefferson
Bandon Marsh, near Bandon 
Baskett Slough, near Dallas 
Bear Valley, near Klamath Falls 
Cape Meares, near Tillamook 
Cold Springs, near Hermiston 
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, near Lakeview 
Klamath Marsh, near Klamath Falls
Malheur, near Burns 
McKay Creek, near Pendleton
Nestucca Bay, near Pacific City
Oregon Islands, off southern Oregon coast
Siletz Bay, near Lincoln City
Three Arch Rocks, off coast near Oceanside
Tualatin River, near Sherwood
Upper Klamath, near Klamath Falls
Wapato Lake, near Gaston
William L. Finley, near Corvallis