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The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are a mountain range in the western United Statesmarker, located largely in northeastern Oregonmarker and stretching into southeastern Washingtonmarker. The range, situated in the Pacific Northwest, has an area of , stretching east and southeast of Pendletonmarker, Oregon, to the Snake River along the Oregon-Idahomarker border.

Geologically, the range is a part of the larger rugged Columbia River Plateaumarker, located in the dry area of Oregon east of the Cascade Range. The highest peaks in the range include Strawberry Mountainmarker at , and Mount Irelandmarker at . The nearby Wallowa Mountainsmarker, east of the main range near the Snake River, are sometimes included as a subrange of the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains in Washington,
seen from the west

In the middle 19th century, the Blue Mountains were a formidable obstacle on the Oregon Trail and was often the last mountain range American pioneers had to cross before reaching either southeast Washington near Walla Wallamarker or passing down the Columbia River Gorgemarker to end of the Oregon Trail in the Willamette Valley near Oregon Citymarker. The range today is traversed by Interstate 84, which crosses the crest of the range at a summit, from south-southeast to north-northwest between La Grandemarker and Pendletonmarker. The community of Baker Citymarker sits along the southeastern flank of the range. U.S. Route 26 crosses the southern portion of the range, reaching a summit of at Blue Mountain Passmarker.

Much of the range is included in the Malheur National Forestmarker, Umatilla National Forestmarker, and Wallowa–Whitman National Forestmarker. Several wilderness areas encompass remote parts of the range, including the Umatilla Wildernessmarker, the North Fork John Day Wildernessmarker, Strawberry Mountain Wildernessmarker, Monument Rock Wildernessmarker, all of which are in Oregon. The Wenaha–Tucannon Wildernessmarker sits astride the Oregon-Washington border.

The range is drained by several rivers, including the Grand Ronde and Tucannonmarker, tributaries of the Snake, as well as the forks of the John Day, Umatillamarker and Walla Walla rivers, tributaries of the Columbia.


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