At its eastern end, Oregon begins in a high, sage-scented desert plateau that covers nearly two-thirds of the state's 96,000 square mi. To the north, the border with Washington follows the Colombia River, then stretches eastward across the Colombia River Plateau to meet the Snake River, itself forming much of the state's eastern border with Idaho. East-central Oregon is carved out by the forks and tributaries of the John Day River, the country's third-largest undammed waterway. Its north-south course to the Columbia marks an invisible line extending southward, separating eastern Oregon from central Oregon's high plateaus and Cascade foothills. To the south, the Nevada border is an invisible line slicing through a high, desolate country sometimes known as the Oregon outback.
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