For nineteenth-century pioneers on the arduous Oregon Trail, the rich and fertile Willamette Valley was the promised land of OREGON, and it’s still the heart of the state’s social, political and cultural life. Portland, the biggest city, is alternative, creative and one of the coolest cities in the USA right now; Salem, the state capital, maintains a small-town air; and Eugene is a lively, outdoorsy college community.

East of Portland, waterfalls cascade down mossy cliffs along the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, south of which looms the imposing silhouette of Mount Hood. Central Oregon is based around the popular recreation hub of Bend, while further south the liberal hamlet of Ashland offers a splash of culture with its annual Shakespeare Festival.

The Oregon coast’s most northerly town, Astoria, enjoys a magnificent setting strewn with imposing Victorian homes, while farther south, wide expanses of pristine sand are broken by jagged black monoliths and pale lighthouses look out from stark headlands over sheltered coves. Finally, the rugged deserts and lava fields of Eastern Oregon are much more remote, and some small towns still celebrate their cowboy roots with annual rodeos.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

Ticked off New York City’s big sights and wondering where to go next? From sinking a pint in Brooklyn's Red Hook to sampling Italian delicacies in The Bronx, …

11 Apr 2017 • Stephen Keeling insert_drive_file Article
In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

Wild West – we all feel something when we see or hear those words. But why? How much is true and how much is fantasy? Our editor Neil McQuillian took to the (…

06 Apr 2017 • Neil McQuillian local_activity Special feature
15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, glaciers to coo over and a bevy of bears to photograph, Alaska is the ultimate wilderness – and this year is the per…

30 Mar 2017 • Sarah Reid camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month