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 this largest wetland basin west of the Mississippi the Western Everglades, 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 have succeeded in reversing some of the damage, and today more than 350 birds species visit the refuge.
Apart from being a handy base for visiting the refuges and Crater Lake, the actual town of Klamath Falls is somewhat prosaic and often overlooked by visitors traveling the Interstate 5 corridor, but it does have a nice little museum. With a population of about 21,000 people, the city 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.