Discover the Wonders of Southern Oregon

Written by Tim Balfour

We came to this part of the country on vacation with little awareness of what beauty awaited us.  Even after living here for nearly eight years we still experience that feeling of awe whenever we are looking at the scenery around us.  And for special treats we get in the car for short drive to everything Southern Oregon has to offer –  from the Rogue River and Hells Gate Canyon to Crater Lake and Oregon Caves.

Crater Lake National ParkAn easy 2 hour drive north on Crater Lake Highway is Crater Lake National Park, widely known for  its deep, pure lake with an unbelievably intense blue color and spectacular views.  Crater Lake is formed from the caldera left after a magnificent volcano eons ago. This is definitely an experience that shouldn’t be missed.  During summer, visitors may navigate the Rim Drive around the lake, enjoy boat tours on the lake surface, have lunch or dinner in the historic Crater Lake Lodge, or hike some of the park’s various trails including Mt. Scott at 8,929 ft. The winter brings some of the heaviest snowfall in the country, averaging 533 inches per year. Although park facilities mostly close for this snowy season, visitors may view the lake during fair weather, enjoy cross-country skiing, and participate in weekend ranger-led snowshoe hikes.

Oregon Caves National Monument – 2 hours away to the southwest lies another incredible experience – Oregon Caves National Monument.  The park encompasses a remnant old-growth coniferous forest including a Douglas-fir tree with the widest known girth in Oregon with three hiking trails, above ground and below ground is a marble cave created by natural forces over hundreds of thousands of years in one of the world’s most diverse geologic realms.  The natural formations inside the cave are as enjoyable as they are informative.

General tours are available from late March to early November, with special off-trail tours and candle light tours available during the summer.  The Chalet at Oregon Caves also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Scenic Rogue River – White water rafting, fishing and jet boat tours are all options on the beautiful Rogue River.  This is a truly beautiful area that has long attracted people wanting to get away from it all, such as Hollywood luminaries Clarke Gable and Ginger Rogers.  Hells Gate Canyon has served as the backdrop for films including “Rooster Cogburn” with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn, and the “River Wild” with Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon.

Take a half day or whole day tour to soak in the scenery, the history and the thrills of the Rogue River.  There are a number of companies that offer tour services launching from a variety of locations.  Check our Activities and Events page for additional information.

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