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Living in Portland, Oregon

Discover why students from every American state and more than 90 countries choose Oregon's largest university.

Whether you see Portland, Oregon, as a small town with a big-city feel or a big city that feels like a small town, it is a cool place to live. Located on the banks of the Willamette River only 90 minutes from snow-capped peaks and the Pacific Ocean, you might not realize Portland's bustling downtown and waterfront are the heart of a metropolitan region with more than 2 million people. Twelve bridges span a wide elbow of the Willamette River, connecting the east and west sides of town. Throughout the metro area are thriving neighborhoods filled with restaurants, record shops, bars, funky clothing stores, antique malls and art galleries. Portland also has an abundance of movie theaters (some even serve beer and pizza), new and used bookstores (including Powell's, the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi), coffee shops and clubs.

Within walking distance of the PSU campus is the world-class Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society, a performing arts complex and a concert hall. For the sports-minded, Portland is home of the MLS Timbers, NBA Trail Blazers, and WHL Winterhawks. Outdoorsy types love Forest Park, the largest city park in the nation, with 5,000 acres of hiking and biking trails, a zoo, public gardens and beautiful old-growth woods. And all of this is connected by one of the world's leading public transportation systems, a combination of buses, streetcars, and light-rail trains, making the entire metro area only a couple stops away.

But it doesn't stop there. Portland's backyard is a recreational paradise.

Willamette River

Two rivers wind through Portland: the north-flowing Willamette, running past the city's Waterfront Park and esplanade, and the mighty Columbia, the fourth largest river in the US. Portland gets the nickname "Bridgetown" from the twelve bridges crossing these rivers, each an example of a unique architectural style. In the summertime, the Willamette turns into a recreational waterway, filled with kayaks, Chinese dragon boats, skiers and wake boarders. 

Columbia River & Columbia River Gorge

Long known for its salmon runs, the Columbia stretches through the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge: 80 miles of cliffs and waterfalls starting just 20 minutes up the river from Portland. The Gorge is a nature-lovers paradise, with spectacular vistas, numerous hiking trails, and scenic bike routes. An hour up river from Portland is the picturesque town of Hood River, where the choppy Columbia and constant gusts combine to form the windsurfing capitol of the world.

Pacific Ocean

If it's ocean you're looking for, the Oregon Coast is a year-round playground for adventure-seekers and beachcombers alike. Along the scenic coast Highway 101 you'll find quaint beach towns and wind-wracked headlands hundreds of feet above the crashing Pacific, and miles of un-peopled beach. Wild flowers grow atop massive cliffs, and eons of wind and angry waves have carved giant boulders into caves and lovely cathedral-esque hollows. Bring your wetsuit and surf or sea kayak among the sea lions instead of the crowds.

Mount Hood

Stretching above 11,000 feet, Mount Hood is Oregon's highest point. It's a downhill and cross-country skiers' paradise and summer training home for the US Olympic ski team with its year-round snow. During the spring and summer, campers pitch their tents on glassy mountain lakes along the Pacific Crest Trail. Experienced climbers can go for the summit, though sudden storms can make this a very dangerous undertaking. Many prefer to take in the view from Timberline Lodge, located 7,000 feet up the mountain.

Mount St. Helens

In 1980, the so-called "dormant" volcano Mount St. Helens blew its top, raining down a blinding storm of ash over Portland. Twenty years later, a trek through Lava Canyon to the massive crater on top still reveals acres of downed and denuded trees and an eerie pumice field resembling the surface of the moon.

All throughout Oregon, mountains are waiting to be climbed. Visit Crater Lake National Monument, hike through the Coast Range, Steens Mountain, and the Three Sisters, or drop from the rainforests to the beaches in Washington's nearby Olympic National Park.