1. Our cities have Urban Growth Boundaries.

1973’s Senate Bill 100, championed by Governor Tom McCall, kicked off Oregon’s reputation as a state that will not subject the country to the development whims of the city — and we aren’t just talking about Portland. There are well over 200 UGB’s in Oregon, preserving our state’s wilderness and farmlands while keeping our growing communities centered and easily walkable.

2. We are home to some deep water.

Photo: tpsdave

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the nation — that, and the fact that the only water intake comes from rainfall gives this gigantic mountain pool a blue unlike any other shade of blue.

3. Oregon takes biking seriously.

So seriously that we converted an entire abandoned scenic highway into a 70-mile long scenic bikeway. The Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway from Troutdale to The Dalles cuts through cliff side tunnels that were blasted with dynamite 100 years ago- and the views are just as stunning now as they were then.

4. We have the Mountains.

Photo: Skeeze

More than sixty: wooded granite peaks, or snowcapped strato-volcanoes, or basaltic fault-blocks overlooking high deserts. Our stupendous array of mountains gives us an unrivaled array of habitat — and mountain sports, from rock climbing to cliff diving, caving, base-jumping, skiing and more.

5. We have the Ghost Towns.

Blame the historic boom-bust of the mining and lumber trades or the general harshness of life in the days of the Wild West, but we have over forty ghost towns scattered across our state. The sea devoured some of these silent plots (Bayocean), while others were destroyed by fire (Sumpter), undone by highway bypasses (Yaquina), or even subsumed by larger towns (Boones Ferry). Most were simply abandoned once the landscape ceased to offer profit through gold, granite, quartz, silver, chromite or any other marketable mineral. Many of these towns can only be identified now by their lonesome, abandoned post office.

6. We have the Town (and ghost town) names that sound like Middle Earth rejects.

Dufur, Owyhee, Echo, Riddle, Mist, Bridal Veil, Cornucopia, Zigzag and Zumwalt.

7. We have the Coast.

Approximately 363 miles of it. Our ecologically diverse coast isn’t just for the surfers and sea-bodies, it is also for the shell scavengers and mountain bikers, campers, and kayakers, Sea Lion observers, saltwater taffy enthusiasts and clammers.

8. Our towns have the weirdest (most unique) names.

Post, Burns, Shedd, Steamboat, Fossil, Persist, Alfalfa, Spray, Bend, Trail, Sodaville, Promise, Glide, Wonder, Powder, Rainbow and Carp.

9. We have the Desert.

Most visitors have no idea that almost a third of the state famous for its rain, is high desert. Known as the Oregon Outback or Oregon Badlands, the desert 4,000 feet above sea level is home to jackrabbits, elk, bighorn sheep, lizards, hawks, ravens, Indian paintbrush, juniper, wildflowers and sagebrush.

10. We have the Hot Springs.

Photo: Andy Mai

Our winters may be long, but thanks to the volcanic activity going on beneath our feet, we have a way to experience the great outdoors even in the coldest of temperatures. Hot springs can be found up and down the Cascade Range and as far east as the Snake River. While some charge around five bucks for an afternoon soak, plenty of these winter-oases are free of charge (and clothing optional).

11. We invented sustainable foresting.

The Oregon Forest Practices Act of 1971 made us the first state to set up laws ensuring that our greatest resource (trees) continues to thrive in our state. Reforestation, monitoring pesticide use, and protecting watersheds and fish habitats are all part of the act that continues to fill Oregonian nature-lovers with a sense of pride.

12. More names, but this time let’s do the names that come off a little too self-deprecating.

Nimrod, Boring, Remote, Drain, Idiotville, Wanker’s Corner and Boston (just kidding Boston, Mass; you’re alright. Please don’t give me a beatin’).