If you like epic outdoor adventures, delicious locally sourced dining, and small-batch wine then you are coming to the right place. Find less crowds, breathtaking views, and often you can get a trail all to yourself. Join us as we show you some of our favorite spots that you do not want to miss while visiting southern Oregon.
SKI, HIKE, & PLAY ON MT. ASHLAND
Mt. Ashland isn’t like any other mountain. Found in the small town of Ashland, it’s an epicenter of outdoor activity year round. In the winter ski and snowboard the slopes, or grab your snowshoes and hike Grouse Gap, or Bull Gap. The spring, summer and fall offers hiking or mountain bike while enjoying the wildflowers and seasonal colors. You will also enjoy endless views of Mt. Shasta and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument as well as the Rogue Valley. Are you a runner? Then challenge yourself to the Mt. Ashland Hill Climb or Siskiyou Outback Runs; fun courses that take you through the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest as well as the more undiscovered backcountry areas.
TIP: If you plan on skiing or snowboarding make sure to get your lift tickets in advance as they are limited if you are going up in the morning. A snow-park permit is required that you can acquire in advance online or stop into the Northwest Nature Shop or Bi-Mart to get it at the last minute.
TAKE A DIP IN THE NORTH UMPQUA HOT SPRINGS
Enjoy these clothing-optional, natural hot springs in the middle of the Umpqua National Forest for an unforgettable experience. There is a parking area with restrooms and then the hike in is less than ¼ of a mile. It is quite steep but well worth the trek. November through April the road is closed to the hot springs so if you want to experience it you will have to hike five miles round trip, often through snow so be prepared with warm clothes and appropriate shoes.
TIP: Please pack out what you pack in and leave no trace. In days past people have left mounds of trash and the hot springs have had to be shut down because of unhealthy water conditions. Let’s please respect our public spaces so that they can continue to be accessible and free to all.
RELAX IN THE HART MOUNTAIN HOT SPRINGS, VIEW THE DARK SKIES AND SEE THE ANTELOPE ROAM
Find your solitude in the Oregon Outback and take a soak in the hot springs at the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Camp in the rustic 30-site campground and if you are lucky you may see antelope, coyotes, big-horn sheep, wild stallions and more roaming the refuge. Don’t forget to look up, Lake County is home to some of the darkest skies in the nation!
TIP: Be prepared for the drastic weather changes that can happen in the desert, it can dip below freezing any time of the year. Have lots of water, food, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
PLAY IN THE CASCADE-SISKIYOU NATIONAL MONUMENT
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument encompasses 24,700 acres of wild land and is home to many rare and beautiful species that you find throughout the year. Hike Hobart Bluff and Pilot Rock to get stunning views of the monument, Rogue Valley, and northern California. Fish and camp at Hyatt Lake in the summer and strap on your snowshoes in the winter to explore the surrounding trails. The biodiversity of the area will leave you in wonder and keep you wanting to come back to explore more!
RAFT THE ROGUE RIVER
The Rogue River is our untamed beauty that deserves the respect of all that enter its waters. Rafting the river from Shady Cove to where the wild and scenic starts in Grants Pass is a fun activity for the family during the summer months. If you want to see the Wild and Scenic portion you will need to get a guide or if you are an experienced rafter you can apply for a permit.
TIPS: Wear a lifejacket at all times. The river can be unpredictable and rafts have been known to tip even in calm waters. Just be prepared.
TAKE A RIDE IN A JET BOAT
Adrenaline junkies!! If you are looking for a one of a kind experience then there’s nothing like traveling at crazy fast speeds, doing 360s along the Rogue River in a jet boat. Take a Hellgate Jet Boat Excursion to enjoy dinner at their lodge or choose shorter trips up the Rogue River and through Hellgate Canyon. If you want something smaller and a little more intimate then Rogue Jet Boat Adventures are for you. Travel up the lower Rogue with a stop at their private lake where you can rent paddle boats and kayaks and have a snack. Both trips offer guides who talk about the local history of our tribes and the respect that we need to show to the land. Jet boats run spring through the end of summer and are now open for reservations.
FLY LIKE A BIRD
There’s nothing like zooming through the sky, wind in your face, and views as far as the eye can see, all on a zipline. Choose from Rogue Valley Zipline Adventure in Central Point or Crater Lake Zipline in Klamath Falls. Rogue Valley Zipline takes you on a five zip line tour with views of Mt. McLoughlin, the Table Rocks, and the Crater Lake Rim and allows children starting at age 8+. Crater Lake Zipline’s tour takes you on nine ziplines with views of Upper Klamath Lake and beyond AND they are the only zipline tour that offers a ziplining area exclusively for kids; Sasquatch Hollow for ages 5-12 years and less than 175 lbs.
TOUR OREGON WINE COUNTRY
We have more than 50 wineries and tasting rooms in southern Oregon, from the Rogue Valley to the Umpqua Valley they all have their own characteristics. Swirl and sip on sweeping estates, in quaint boutique tasting rooms, and even on sprawling farms that make their own cheese; many offering heated outdoor patios.
Take guided tours through the marble caves at the Oregon Caves National Monument. Walk through narrow, twisting passages and discover history that goes back to more than a million years. After you take a tour of the caves enjoy hikes in the area that take you through meadows and forests, along creeks, and up mountain tops with breathtaking views.
TIPS: Reservations are highly suggested and please do not wear shoes that you have worn in other caves to prevent damaging the ecosystem for the resident bats.
GO HIKING & WATERFALL HUNTING IN THE UMPQUA
Enjoy more than eleven waterfalls on Highway 138 and into the small town of Glide, with short to long treks everyone can enjoy. There are even a couple that you can drive right up to for those that may be wheelchair bound, Whitehorse and Clearwater Falls just happen to be within five miles of one another. Looking to challenge yourself? Then hit up the North Umpqua Trail where you can hike the more difficult and longer trails of Swiftwater, Dread & Terror, and Lemolo as well as many others.
TIP: The best time to go is early spring to get the best flow for the waterfalls. To avoid the mass mosquitos avoid late spring through early summer.
HIKE THE UPPER & LOWER TABLE ROCKS IN THE SPRING
Probably the most well known hike in the Rogue Valley the Upper and Lower Table Rocks are fun and moderate hikes taking you 800 feet above the north bank of the Rogue River. Every season brings its own beauty but in the spring you can view hundreds of wildflowers of varying species and one found nowhere else in the world, the dwarf wooly meadowfoam. Each Table Rock hike is less than five miles and moderate in degree of difficulty and length. It can get pretty busy throughout the day so plan to start fairly early if you wish to avoid the crowds.
TIP: Please stay to the trails as the eco-systems on the Table Rocks are very delicate and the we don’t want the sensitive vegetation to be disturbed.
FIND THE GENTNER’S FRITILLARIA IN JACKSONVILLE
Not only is Jacksonville the cutest little historic town in southern Oregon, they are home to great trail systems for hikers, runners, bikers, and some even for horseback riding. Come spring you can find the largest concentration of one of the rarest native plants in the world, the Gentner’s Fritillaria, in the Jacksonville woodlands. If you want to view this rare plant it can be found early to mid-April all around the Jacksonville trails and mostly in the Britt Trails.
TIP: Please don’t pick the flowers because they are so few and far between that we want everyone seeking them out to be able to see them.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF AND HIKE MT. MCLOUGHLIN
Looking for a challenge? Hike the highest peak in southern Oregon, Mt. Mcloughlin in Klamath County. It’s 11 miles round-trip with more than 4000 feet in elevation gain. Be prepared for five-plus miles of hiking ALL UPHILL from the very start and as you summit you will even do a little rock climbing. It’s definitely worth doing at least once in your life! Just be prepared with lots of water and snacks and wear your hiking boots, athletic shoes don’t quite cut it once you hit the shale.
TIP: Plan this hike mid to late summer unless you don’t mind summiting in the snow. McLoughlin is pretty much covered until late-July and then the mosquito hatch can make it pretty miserable. Plan 4-8 hours depending on your fitness level and start very early to beat the heat of the day.
HIKE THE PREHISTORIC FORT ROCK
Found in the southeastern Oregon desert, Fort Rock is a volcanic tuff ring that used to be a shallow prehistoric sea. After you hike the tuff ring, visit the Homestead Village Museum comprised of historic homes and buildings acquired from farms and land around the area. Then only a half mile away is the Fort Rock Cave where prehistoric sandals more than 9000 years old were found.
TIP: If you hike Fort Rock make sure to have sunscreen and water because there is no shade whatsoever.
HIKE THROUGH A VOLCANIC FISSURE
Crack in the Ground is a volcanic fissure that was formed about 14,000 years ago. It’s 70 feet deep and 2 miles long, and you can hike the whole length. It’s a pretty cool, unique experience, taking you over giant boulders and through grassy trails.
TIP: Bring a coat because it can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the average temperature. The drive in is over 6 miles of washboard so be prepared for bumpy roads.
Photo by Discover Klamath
Open views and roads for miles can be found in Klamath County and what better way to find the undiscovered than on two wheels. Whether you enjoy road biking or mountain biking, Klamath County trails take you along lakes and rivers, through the mountains, and even through the high desert. From easy to advanced, one-day excursions on the Spence Mountain loop to multiple day biking trips along the 109 mile OC&E there is something for everyone.
Photo by Leslie Kehmeier
OREGON TIMBER TRAIL
Oregon Timber Trail consists of 700 miles with 207 miles of it being in southern Oregon. It starts in northern California, takes you through Lake County, the Willamette Valley and ends in Hood River. Take a camera and be ready for some phenomenal views since much of the time you are at over 7000 feet. Take a day trip, multiple days, or do the whole thing; the Oregon wilderness is your oyster!
EXPLORE CRATER LAKE
No visit to southern Oregon would be complete without exploring Crater Lake. Crater Lake is not just any lake, it’s the deepest lake in the continental United States offering multiple viewpoints to see it from every angle during the summer months. Hike its trails to see its diversity and in the winter enjoy snowshoeing and cross country skiing to enjoy it as a winter wonderland.
TIP: Crater Lake’s rim is closed during the winter months due to snow. If you want to visit all of it’s trails as well as waterfalls, and other geologic features visit in mid-June through September though storms can set in during the early fall.
Southern Oregon is a land of diverse landscapes, rich arts and culture, lots of great wineries and breweries, and an ever growing culinary scene. Start planning your trip today to enjoy all that we have to offer!