Exploring Southern Oregon’s Historic Towns and Lush Landscapes
Welcome to Southern Oregon, a land of wild rivers and whitewater, of world-famous fishing and rafting, and of historic towns waiting to be enjoyed and explored.
Hike hundreds of trails winding through old-growth forests and coastal estuaries, roam high meadows and verdant valleys, and skim the mountainsides of high desert and outback country. Birders spot more breeds here than almost anywhere else in the West. The stage is set for theatergoers and art lovers with world-class performances, unique venues and dozens of art festivals. History buffs can experience one of the West’s original gold rush-era settlements and the Applegate Trail. Wine lovers will find hillside vistas, diverse growing appellations and bold, varied wines. This is home to North America’s deepest lake and Oregon’s only national park, Crater Lake, one of many natural wonders along a ribbon of National Scenic Byways ready to lead you to an amazing vacation.
Start your journey in charming Ashland, which features historic neighborhoods, fine dining and beautiful parks, including 40-hectare Lithia Park. Sip coffee at cafes or shop in bookstores, art galleries and boutiques. The Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival presents classic and contemporary plays in three unique theaters, including the outdoor Elizabethan Stage, from mid-February through October.
Autumn day at Lithia Park in Ashland
Jacksonville, founded in 1851, is a gold rush town with more than 100 historic buildings and its Main Street that looks like a Western movie set. The town’s pioneer charm is a wonderful backdrop to extraordinary dining and lodging, and the Britt Festivals, the Pacific Northwest’s premier outdoor summer performing arts festival.
On the town in historic Jacksonville on a clear evening
Medford is an urban and business hub, home to a vibrant culinary and arts scene. Microbreweries dot historic Old Town and wineries grace the hillsides. Enjoy performances, from theater to opera, then take advantage of terrific golf, sports and tax-free shopping opportunities. Tour Harry & David, the largest gourmet mail-order company in the world, founded in Medford.
Stunning Cascade Mountain views near Medford
Upper Rogue Region
Enjoy the rural pleasures of the spectacular Upper Rogue region, including Gold Hill, home of strange phenomena at the House of Mystery at the Oregon Vortex. Grants Pass, nestled along the banks of the wild and scenic Rogue River, is a classic river town that feeds your passion for history, arts, outdoor adventure, fine dining or just plain relaxing. Jet boats race along the mighty Rogue into Hellgate Canyon. Rafting, kayaking and fishing take center stage in the summer as do arts festivals and the Grants Pass Growers Market, which is Southern Oregon’s largest farmers market.
Beginning a kayak trip on the Rogue River through Hellgate Canyon
The Illinois Valley
The Illinois Valley, between Grants Pass and the Oregon Coast, includes wineries, redwoods and some of the most unique botanical areas in the world. Visit Cave Junction and the Oregon Caves National Monument and Chateau. The South Umpqua Valley includes the historic towns of Myrtle Creek and Canyonville in addition to Seven Feathers RV Resort.
Touring underground rock formations at Oregon Caves National Monument
Roseburg and the Land of Umpqua are known for cascading waterfalls, wildflowers, high alpine meadows, fishing and rafting, and charming hamlets. Visit one of the USA’s largest drive-through animal parks, Wildlife Safari. A tour of the lush Umpqua Valley wine country is a glimpse into the birthplace of wine in Oregon. The Highway of the Waterfalls is a popular and beautiful scenic drive.
Grapevines surrounding a barn at an Umpqua Valley winery near Roseburg
Lower Rogue Region
Even actors from Hollywood’s Golden Era vacationed on the Rogue River. Clark Gable, John Wayne, Ginger Rogers and others dined in historic lodges and fished the wild waters. The beautiful prose of famous Western writer Zane Grey inspired these and other visitors. Grey’s cabin, built in the 1920s at the Winkle Bar site, can still be seen on a trip down the Lower Rogue River canyon. Learn about its history at an interpretive display.
Fly into Portland International Airport (PDX) and rent a car to begin your road trip. Alternatively, book a connecting flight to Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR) and rent a car there.