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Explore Oregon, the Beaver State


Hotel on Columbia RiverWe already wrote about some of our Oregon adventures in our travel journal, but I can’t wait to tell you this other story! It started like a lot of adventures do – with Sofia and I making a new friend.

We met a girl named Cindy in Astoria, which is a city at the northern edge of the state. We came to visit the Columbia River and became friends with Cindy right away. Her family helps run a beautiful hotel that sits right on the shore of the river. Sofia loved the bright colors of the hotel and I loved how it sat over the water on its own pier.

Overlook of AstoriaWe spent some time exploring the city. Then Cindy told us about a trip some of the guests were taking to visit the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Do you remember our stories about Lewis and Clark? They’re the explorers who traveled across the USA years ago, finally reaching the Pacific Ocean here in Oregon. We’re big fans of Lewis and Clark, so we decided to join Cindy and her tour group.

Swans on lakeThe wildlife refuge sits east of Astoria on the Columbia River. It is home to thousands of swans, geese, ducks and shorebirds. We hopped in a small boat and started floating along the refuge’s estuaries, which are offshoots of shallower water. We were watching a group of tundra swans when Sofia gasped and grabbed my shoulder. She pointed her arm and I followed the line of her finger: there in the distance was a bald eagle. I had never seen one in the wild before! It soared above a stretch of water in the distance, circling over the surface.

Bald Eagle“Isn’t it beautiful?” Cindy said. “There are a bunch of nests here at the refuge. Salmon swim in the estuaries to get used to the salt water before heading to the ocean.” She shielded her eyes from the sun and smiled as she watched the eagle. “Bald eagles love salmon.” And just as she said it, as if taking her cue, the eagle dove forward and dipped its talons in the water, plucking a silvery fish from the river. Then it flapped its great wings and disappeared into the trees. I’ll never forget it.

We thanked Cindy for an amazing tour and decided to keep heading down the river. We’d heard about a point along the river called the Vista House where travelers have been stopping for years. That’s where we decided to go next.

View Photos to see our snapshot of the Vista House, and don’t forget to check out our Favorites. There’s also an activity for you all about the different trees we’ve seen on our trip.

Have fun and keep exploring!

Sam and Sofia

Sam’s Favorites


Animal: Beaver

Oregon is named the Beaver State after its state animal, the American beaver. These crafty mammals thrive along Oregon’s rivers and lakes.







City: Newport

Visiting the ocean is one of my favorite things to do. Newport is a town along the Oregon coast. I loved hiking to its different beaches and watching the waves of the Pacific.


Mount Hood

Mountain: Mount Hood

From Portland, Sofia’s favorite city, you can see Mount Hood rising in the distance. It’s the tallest peak in Oregon and one of my new favorite places to go snowboarding!




Sofia’s Favorites


Animal: Northern Spotted Owl

These birds are nocturnal and they fly so stealthily that I couldn’t believe we found one in the wild. They’re named for the white spots on their feathers.






City: Portland

Portland is a special place. It’s a major city that still somehow feels like a small neighborhood. It’s such a friendly community, and I love all of the surrounding trees and mountains.


Three Sisters

Mountain: Three Sisters

The Three Sisters are actually three separate mountains, all lined up along the Cascade Range. They’re surrounded by wilderness and are about 15 miles away from the nearest town.



Forest with stream

Trees Species in Oregon

A variety of trees grow in the Pacific Northwest. The state of Oregon is covered by forests and woods. Organizations like the World Forestry Center work to protect these forests. Sam and Sofia saw a number of tree species while visiting Oregon. Below are photos of the different tree species. Match each photo with its correct description by printing this page and writing the correct tree description name under each photo.


Tree Sample 1


Tree Sample 2


Tree Sample 3

Tree Sample 4

Tree Sample 5





Tree Descriptions

Description A: Maple

The maple tree (of the genus acer) has sharp, pointed leaves that turn bright shades of red and yellow in autumn. The name acer actually comes from the Latin word for “sharp.”


Description B: Douglas Fir

The Douglas fir (scientific name: pseudotsuga menziesii) is native to the western areas of North America and is often called the Oregon pine. Its leaves are thin, green and needle-like, twisting in a slight spiral at the base in order to better flatten against the branch.


Description C: Oregon White Oak

The Oregon white oak (scientific name: quercus garryana) varies in size. Some are the size of shrubs while others grow to over 20 m high. Its leaves are distinguished by the 3-7 rounded lobes that grow on each side.


Description D: Ponderosa Pine

The Ponderosa Pine (scientific name: pinus ponderosa) is a large evergreen pine tree known for its reddish bark. Its pine cones, which range from 5 to 16 cm in length, are perfect for craft projects.


Description E: Western Juniper

The Western juniper (scientific name: juniperus occidentalis) is native to the western USA. Its leaves are rough and scale-like, with many flat tendrils growing from the same branch.