By Dan Shryock
Climb into a big, soft bed. Pull the blanket up to your neck and snuggle in for the night. And just before you doze off, remind yourself how great it is to sleep in the forest.
This is not a dream. This is what happens when you stay at the Union Creek Resort, the roadside lodge near Crater Lake National Park. It’s easy to find on Highway 62, a stretch of the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway north from Medford and the Rogue Valley. Pull over, take a breather and enjoy some rustic comfort in the forest.
Union Creek Resort is located a few miles inside the Rogue River National Forest. Owners Sandy and Kent Watson offer cabins, vacation rental and European-style lodge rooms less than a stone’s throw from the trees and a short walk to the Rogue River Gorge.
Before we get too far into this, it should be clear that Union Creek Resort is not a spa retreat. The name comes with the getaway’s historic designation, and it harkens back to the early 1900s when a wilderness resort was a place to escape, go fishing and leave hectic city life behind.
The same holds true today. There’s wifi here but the signal may weaken with the weather. Cell phone signals are just as dicey. But if you’re looking an opportunity to put the phone down and escape, this is it.
“This is a place to fish, to get out and enjoy the outdoors, go hiking,” Kent says. “It’s a chance to unplug.”
You don’t need to go far to find something to do. Across the street and down a short trail is the picturesque Rogue River Gorge and Natural Bridge. See where basalt canyons and lava tubs, remnants of Mt. Mazama’s eruption and lava flow nearly 8,000 years ago, create waterfalls. The river is very narrow at this point, a stark difference from the Wild and Scenic stretch closer to the Pacific Ocean.
You can head north on Highway 62 and make your way to Crater Lake National Park. To the south is the small community of Prospect with its own Pearsoney Falls, Mills Creek Falls and the Avenue of the Boulders – all easy hikes from the edge of town.
Where to Sleep
There are 23 cabins and vacation rentals ranging in size and amenities. The largest is often used for family reunions and business retreats. Another nine European-style hotel rooms are upstairs in the lodge.
The cabins may appear rough on the outside but that’s part of the forest charm.
“These cabins are nearly 100 years old. We’re required by historic standards to maintain that old look,” Kent says. “But we want people to walk through that door, feel that comfort and understand that this is a place your grandparents could have come to years ago.”
“We’re bringing that feeling of peace and quiet and tranquility from the outside to the inside,” Sandy adds. “It feels comfortable, it feels right.”
Where to Eat
Beckie’s Cafe, part of the Union Creek Resort, provides comforting meals. The highlight is the mandatory slice of famous pies. How do you measure famous? “We sell more than 100 pies a day in the summer,” Sandy says.
Want to eat in? Most cabins are equipped with kitchenettes for your own home cooking.
Things To Do
If your idea of fun can be done in the wilderness, there’s a good chance it’s available nearby. Hiking, fishing, rafting, boating, hunting, swimming, picnicking, bird watching, mountain biking, off-road motor sports, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sledding … you get the idea. The Union Creek Resort has information about this and more on its website.
Crater Lake National Park is the No. 1 destination of most resort quests, even during the winter when more than 10 feet of snow can fall in the park. The snow line often drops down to the resort.
For More Information
Sandy and Kent maintain an informative website at www.unioncreekoregon.com
For address, phone number and a Google map to the resort, click here. Use the Google map to create driving directions on your mobile device.
Dan Shryock is an Oregon-based journalist and travel writer. When he's not visiting Southern Oregon or sampling local wines, he can be found cycling throughout the state.