This region of the state includes the entire area east of the Cascade Mountain Range. The climate is drier with wider seasonal temperature variations when compared to the western part of the state. The Cascades cause a rain shadow effect, contributing to the dry desert climate with some parts of the region receiving less than 10 inches of rainfall per year. However, some parts of Northeastern Oregon also get a significant amount of snow in the winter months. Over a third of the region is covered with pine and juniper forests, especially the mountainous areas. Columbia Plateau’s rich loess soils help make it one of the top wheat-producing regions in the world.
The economy of the region is primarily agricultural, and former key industries of timber and mining have decreased recently, although still important. The initial economy of the area was mining but that industry has been mostly replaced over the years by crop farming, cattle ranching, sheep raising, and timber production as primary economic forces of the region. Cultural tourism, agritourism, and ecotourism continue to develop. From crystal clear alpine lakes and fish-filled rivers to forested mountains and sage-covered deserts, there are plenty of opportunities for recreation in Eastern Oregon. The Snake River offers a range of boating experiences from gentle kid-friendly drifting to world-class whitewater rapids.