Phillip Elden Gives Oregon Visitors a Glimpse of the State’s Landscapes


Phillip Elden is presently the conservation director for Native Oregon, a conservation group committed to enhancing and protecting Oregon’s native plants and animal species, desperate to survive in the ever-changing environment.
A longtime member of a West Coast mountain climbing club, he has climbed several mountains and volcanoes, including Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.
Phillip Elden is also an active member of his community, offering time and talents to numerous nonprofit organizations.

Phillip Elden

Since their mid-20s, Phillip Elden and his wife Cindi have made their home in Cottage Grove, Oregon. While climbing the volcanic peaks of Oregon, Phillip Elden has grown to appreciate the stunning views around the mountainous regions. Here, Phillip Elden offers a preview those who have never traveled to the great state of Oregon.

Zrylw: Welcome! Thanks for talking with us today.

Phillip Elden: I’m happy to chat.

Zrylw: Why is Oregon such a popular tourist spot?

Phillip Elden: In my humble opinion, the most attractive aspect of Oregon is the amazing diversity of the scenic landscapes.

Zrylw: What are some examples?

Phillip Elden: In the West, the prominent feature would be the Cascade Mountains. Plus, the visually arresting line of beaches provides a stark contrast. There, the ancient trees are green and incredibly dense. In fact, the sky never seems to clear.

Zrylw: How is the eastern part of Oregon different?

Phillip Elden: In southeastern Oregon, the vast desert region is extremely dry – at least by Oregon’s standards. It’s a complete 180 compared to the western side.

Zrylw: Where is the distinction most evident?

Phillip Elden: On Mt. Hood’s western side, the landscape is very lush and green. Then, as you travel towards the east, the land appears dry, brown and flat.

Zrylw: It must be quite an experience for visitors!

Phillip Elden: Absolutely. Even local residents will shake their heads at the idea that these different regions are situated right next to each other.

Zrylw: How can visitors best appreciate the scenery of the high desert?

Phillip Elden: I think that the most beautiful drive is from Portland right on past Mt. Hood en route to the Deschutes River.
Zrylw: What’s one aspect of the desert most people don’t know about?

Phillip Elden: Despite the name, the vast majority of Oregon’s high desert is not actually desert.

Zrylw: What’s the proper name then?

Phillip Elden: The more accurate geological description for this area would be scrubland or steppe.

Zrylw: What’s the highest peak in the desert?

Phillip Elden:
At nearly 3,000 meters tall, Steens Mountain reigns supreme as the highest peak in the desert?
Zrylw: How did Steens Mountain come to be?

Phillip Elden: It was actually created in tandem with the plate tectonics that exist throughout the rest of the region.

Zrylw: When did this occur?

Phillip Elden: Scientists believe that it was more than 16 million years ago when layers of hot lava flowed directly from the numerous volcanic eruptions and blanketed approximately half of the whole state.

Zrylw: What happened next?

Phillip Elden: The Earth’s crust started to stretch, which paved the way for more volcanic activity. In the aftermath of numerous ice ages, the giant lakes developed in the desert.

Zrylw: That’s remarkable…

Phillip Elden: It truly is. The history here is quite interesting.

Zrylw: We appreciate your time and insight and have enjoyed our conversation today.

Phillip Elden: Thanks again for having me!

Through the organization Native Oregon, where he serves as membership president, Phillip Elden works hard to preserve the health of the state’s ecosystems.

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