So much of southern Oregon feels like undiscovered country. Of course everyone knows about Crater Lake and our mighty Rogue River, but have you heard about the Oregon Caves National Monument or better yet our Dark Skies? Well, follow along as we take you on the ultimate trip across southern Oregon to visit all of the bucket list worthy places, starting with Roseburg, the Greater Douglas County, Grants Pass, and Illinois Valley!
ROSEBURG & DOUGLAS COUNTY
STEP BACK IN TIME
Oakland was the first city to be placed on Oregon’s historic register in 1968 and then the National Registry in 1979. Visit its original brick buildings that were constructed in the 1880s and 90s with Stearns Hardware being in operation since 1887. Visit cute little antique shops, enjoy an ice cream at Tully’s, and don’t miss a visit to the Oakland Tavern built in 1898!
SIP LOCAL BEER & WINE AND FILL YOUR BELLIES
Foodies take heed! Take yourself on a self-guided tour through rolling hills and vibrant green valleys. Sip delicious wines, while nibbling local delights from local artisans at the more than 70 wineries, breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, u-pick farms, bakeries, cafes, and ranches throughout the region. Just make sure to call ahead before you head out because reservations may be required to visit some places. See more about the Great Umpqua Food Trail
GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH WILD ANIMALS
If you’ve driven I-5 you can’t miss the signs to visit Wildlife Safari and the signs aren’t wrong, you must visit! It’s a unique experience taking you on a drive-thru safari experience. Get up close and personal with giraffes, ostrich, and more animals and when they reopen you can walk through the free village where you will meet their ambassador cheetah, the kids get to pet animals, and feed the koi fish! Get more information to get tickets and plan your trip HERE
GET THAT EPIC INSTAGRAM WORTHY WATERFALL SHOT
Follow the trail to experience 11 different waterfalls, the best time being the spring when flow is at its heaviest. Visit falls just steps from the highway or hike to seemingly prehistoric and tropical destinations. Toketee Falls is probably the most well know fall but if you want to avoid the crowded trail Fall Creek Falls and Susan Creek Falls you can get up close and personal and Lemolo falls is quite the stunner. See more about the trails of the North Umpqua HERE
PLAY ALONG THE WILD & SCENIC NORTH UMPQUA RIVER
Playing along the North Umpqua is not for the faint of heart. Camp, hike, fish, raft, mountain bike, basically do anything any outdoor lover can imagine along the enchanting 79 miles of the North Umpqua River trails. When you need to give your weary muscles a rest you can even soak in the Hot Springs. Start planning your trip and get all of the details HERE
GRANTS PASS & THE ILLINOIS VALLEY
DISCOVER DARLINGTONIA CARNIVOROUS PLANTS
Hiking is part of our lifestyle in southern Oregon so every region offers you opportunities to get outdoors to explore. Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Wayside is an easy walk that takes you through towering pines on ⅛ mile long boardwalk were you can view Darlingtonia wetlands. You can on a moderate 1 mile hike on Jeffrey Pine Loop that follows an historic mining ditch with views of the Illinois River. It is also wheelchair accessible!
Another easy hike, Limpy Creek Botanical Trail is full of unusual plant species to observe and is only one mile long, making for a perfect hike for kids. If you are looking for something a little more challenging Cathedral hills is 10 miles of trails that draws hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Get views of the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas with lots of wildflowers in the spring!
DO 360’s ON THE ROGUE RIVER
Adrenaline junkie? Take a jet boat cruise on the Hellgate Jet Boat Excursion along the Rogue River. View gorgeous scenery while your guide educates you about the local eco-system in between speeding along the river and throwing in 360s here and there. Depending on the group you are with you can get pretty soaked. It’s a wild ride that you don’t want to miss! Get all of the info and book your trip HERE
SIP A GOOD OL’ FASHIONED SODA
If you are visiting downtown Grants Pass (their antique shops are worth a browse) you have to take a break and sit at the soda fountain bar at Grants Pass Pharmacy and order your favorite phosphate flavor, or have an ice cream float. They also have all sorts of cute novelty gifts and treats that will make you feel like a kid again, Black Jack gum anyone?
EXPLORE PREHISTORIC CAVES
Grab a coat and attend a ranger-guided tour of the marble halls of the Oregon Caves National Monument in Cave Junction. Learn the history of how the caves came to be and its inhabitants that still live there. When you are done with your tour take a short hike up the Cliff Nature Trail to get a phenomenal panoramic view of the Illinois Valley. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
Note: Please don’t wear clothes, shoes or gear that you have worn to other caves to protect the bat population from White Nose Syndrome.
TAKE A WALK ON THE SWINGING BRIDGE
The Illinois River in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest holds a beauty all its own. Locals and visitors flock to it every summer to discover its many swimming holes and even float parts in rafts and kayaks, but one of the coolest things to do is to walk across its swinging bridge. There is only one other bridge of its kind in the state of Oregon. Built in 1960 it was to give high water access to a Boy Scout camp across the river.
To find the swinging bridge take Illinois River Rd until the pavement ends onto NF-087 take the left fork to the river.
SPEND THE NIGHT IN A TREEHOUSE
Want an experience you will never forget? Plan ahead and stay at the Out and About Treesort in Cave Junction. Stay in fully furnished rustic cabins hundreds of feet in the air with bridges to connect them. On site they also have ziplining and crafts, and they are fully furnished like campgrounds with barbecues, common areas and even offer a delicious breakfast every morning!
If you want to start planning your future visit to the Illinois Valley checkout our STORY giving you all of the details.
This is just the start of our explorations across southern Oregon. Keep coming back as we take you through lush green mountains, down wild blue rivers, and to soak in hot springs under some of the darkest skies in the world. We will fill your bellies with local cheeses and chocolates, while you sip wine and beer, and you picnic along babbling creeks. We will immerse you in all that is southern Oregon!
Lanessa Pierce is the owner and social media manager of
“What to Do in Southern Oregon” a local events blog, website
and social media outlet showcasing the region’s best events
and adventures. Lanessa enjoys all that Oregon has to offer
with her husband and two children, getting outdoors as much
as possible. She is also passionate about local
homegrown music, food, beer and wine.
You can follow her daily adventures on
Instagram and Facebook