Since pioneer days, the word "Oregon" has been a call to beauty and exploration.

They called it "Polyanna," an "earthly Paradise," and "the land at Eden’s gate." In the 1840s, the fabulous tales that filtered out of the nearly mythical land of Oregon inspired thousands of Americans each year to abandon their old lives and set off in covered wagons on the Oregon Trail—risking everything they had on a two-thousand-mile trek across the wilderness.

For every believer who followed the Oregon dream, a thousand skeptics stayed behind. The doubters scoffed that no land could be as beautiful as the reports of Oregon claimed.

Those who live in Oregon know that the skeptics were wrong. To this day, a tour across Oregon is a journey through unparalleled scenery. The diversity of this beauty makes it all the more inspiring.

To the west, rainforest canyons descend to a wild coast of wave-smashed headlands and hidden beaches. In the Willamette Valley, daffodils and shade oaks surround white clapboard farmhouses amid rolling croplands. In the Cascade Range, glaciers writhe down 10,000-foot volcanoes toward turquoise lakes. And in the cliff-lined canyons of Southeast Oregon’s high desert, forgotten rivers curve past hot springs and ancient petroglyphs.

Let this book be your guide as you chart your own Oregon Trail, exploring the fabled beauty that still inspires Oregonians to love, cherish, and protect their paradise.