The Mountains

From the flowery summit of Browder Ridge, the steep ridges of the Western Cascades unfold to the north.

The Western Cascades of Oregon are not just the western side of the Cascades. The Western Cascades are a very old mountain range and are sometimes called the Old Cascades. They began around 40 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity which continued until at least 10 million years ago. Since then, they have eroded into a series of ridges cut by river valleys. Much more recently, the volcanic activity moved a little farther east. This is when the great volcanos of the High Cascades formed. Mount Hood, the highest peak in Oregon, is less than a million years old. The High Cascade eruptions were so close that they buried some parts of the older Western Cascades, making it hard to distinguish these two separate ranges in places. A look at satellite photos shows the difference more clearly than can be seen on the ground. The Western Cascades run more or less along a north-south axis from central Washington into northern California but mostly lie in Oregon. Several Western Cascades peaks in the south, such as Hershberger Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain, reach over 6000′, but most are in the 4500-5500′ range, well below treeline. The southern end of the range appears to be younger, and along with decreased erosion from the drier climate, this may account for the increased elevations farther south.

Click here for more about the Western Cascades.

Click here (or on “Sites” above) to see a map of some of the best botanical sites in the Western Cascades.

The Book

Mountain Plants of the Western Cascades of Oregon and Where to Find Them began as an idea of what to do with all my photographs and information on the Western Cascades. And let’s face it, I needed some justification for all the time I was already spending exploring and botanizing this beautiful area. The book is still in progress… and may be for a while yet (at least until I am done working with OregonFlora on the three-volume Flora of Oregon). I have much yet to learn, and I won’t be satisfied until I’m happy with every photo and every description. Until then, this website will serve as a repository for some of my information and photos of plants and good botanizing locations. Please visit the Plants and Places blog where I’ll report on what I find on my frequent botanizing trips.

Click here for more about the book, including some sample pages.

The Author

Tanya Harvey. I’m an amateur botanist and gardener who has been in love with plants as long as I can remember. Officially, I’m an artist, craftsperson, and designer (check out my work at, but almost all of my work revolves around plants and nature. My home is out in the country in Fall Creek in Lane County. That makes the Western Cascades my “backyard”. It is also close to the halfway point for these mountains in Oregon, making it easier for me to explore both the southern and northern ends of the Oregon part of the range. I spend as much time as I can botanizing the Western Cascades and, in the interests of science, conservation, and beauty, I feel it is important to share what I learn. Hence the website and (eventually) the book. Enjoy!

Click here if you want to know more about the author/photographer/web designer.

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