Southern Oregon: Places to Explore

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Klamath Falls

Often overlooked by visitors traveling the I-5 corridor, the greater Klamath Falls area is one of the most beautiful parts of Oregon. The small if not especially engaging city of Klamath Falls stands at an elevation of 4,100 feet, on the southern shore of Upper Klamath Lake. The highest elevation in Klamath County is the peak of Mt. Scott, at 8,926 feet. There are more than 82 lakes and streams in Klamath County, including Upper Klamath Lake, which covers 133 square miles.

The Klamath Basin, with its six national wildlife refuges, hosts the largest wintering concentration of bald eagles in the contiguous United States and the largest concentration of migratory waterfowl on the continent. Each February nature enthusiasts from around the world flock here for the Winter Wings Festival, the nation's oldest birding festival.

The Nature Conservancy has called the basin a western Everglades, because it is the largest wetland area west of the Mississippi. But humans have significantly damaged the ecosystem through farming and development. More than 25% of vertebrate species in the area are now endangered or threatened. As recently as the 1980s, about 6 million birds used the area every year; today that number is down to 2 to 3 million. Environmental organizations are working to reverse some of the damage.

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