Exploring Southern Oregon

Southern Oregon is not just about Shakespeare—there are activities for every taste, and numerous places to explore within an an easy drive. No visit to the area is complete without a trip to Historic Jacksonville, the Applegate Valley, and Crater Lake.

Historic Jacksonville

Jacksonville boasts attractions both historic and modern. Get a sense of the town’s history by visiting Hanley Farm, which is owned and operated by the Southern Oregon Historical Society.
All summer long, walk up to the Britt Festival of Music, with dozens of outdoor concerts featuring world-class artists in classical music, jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, world, pop and country music. The Britt Festival also showcases the Rogue Valley’s abundant local music talent.

Jacksonville is also a center of Southern Oregon’s unique wine culture. There are five wineries in Jacksonville, all worth a visit: Daisy Creek Vineyards, Quady North, Caprice Vineyards, DANCIN Vineyards, and South Stage Cellars.

Applegate Valley

The Applegate River is a tributary of the Rogue River, running from Siskiyou County in Northern California to Josephine County in Oregon. Spend the day fishing, kayaking or swimming on Applegate Lake, at the south end of Applegate Valley. The broad, lush Applegate Valley itself is a thriving wine country. No fewer than eighteen wineries are listed along the Applegate Wine Trail.

Crater Lake

The deepest lake in the continental US, and the seventh deepest lake in the world, Crater Lake is deep azure blue – incredibly clear and pure. In summer, the Park Service offers boat tours to Wizard Island and other points of interest within the lake. The rim road that encircles the lake allows for an infinite variety of views, and branches off to other area attractions as well. Hiking to any of the several peaks surrounding the lake (including the highest point, Mt. Scott), is rewarded with panoramic views of the lake and the Cascade Mountains, including Mt. Shasta, Mt. McLoughlin, and the dramatic peaks of Mt. Thielsen.

The Steel Visitors’ Center is open daily from late April to early November 9AM to 5PM and early November to late April 10AM to 4PM (closed on Christmas). The Visitors’ Center features timelines, displays, a short film about the geology and history of Crater Lake, a snack bar and souvenir store.

Oregon Caves

The Oregon Caves are often referred to as the “Marble Halls of Oregon,” and the Oregon Caves National Monument has been established to preserve this unusual geological destination. The caves are located 20 miles east of Cave Junction (about an hour and a half from Ashland). All tours of the caves are guided, and you can sign up for regular tours on the main cave trails, or “caving tours” which go off-trail into remote parts of the caves.

Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure

Fly on the Pacific Northwest’s highest zipline! The Rogue Valley Zipline Adventure is a progressive course of five ziplines which culminates in a breathtaking 1300-foot ride over a canyon in the hills near Gold Hill, about 25 miles from Ashland. The tour includes a peek inside the historic Braden Gold Mine, and views of Mt. McLoughlin, Mt. Mazama and the lower Rogue Valley. For information visit the Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure website.

Hellgate Jetboat Excursions

Based in Grants Pass, just 35 miles from Ashland, these excursions offer a whole new perspective on the Rogue River. Jet boats piloted by US Coast Guard certified guides give you a thrill ride through river canyons. Be prepared for wildlife sightings—bald eagles are commonly seen on the tours—and getting wet! Most Hellgate Excursions include stops for refreshment at riverside restaurants; one tour features a champagne brunch. For more information, tour the Hellgate Jetboat Excursions website.

Hyatt Lake

Just over 20 miles from Ashland, this alpine reservoir lake features fishing, swimming, and boating opportunities. You can enjoy a good meal at the Hyatt Lake Resort on the west side of the lake, or at the Greensprings Inn on Highway 66. The main campground at Hyatt lake features two boat ramps, a fish cleaning station, and a huge playground near a large sheltered bay suitable for swimming. Visitors may rent recreational equipment to play basketball, tetherball, volleyball, or horseshoes.

Howard Prairie Lake

Just a few miles north of Hyatt Lake on Hyatt Lake Road is Howard Prairie Lake. Mount McLoughlin towers over the lake, where sailboats are often seen. The Howard Prairie Resort has a store, cafe and boat launch with marina. You’ll find seven county parks and campgrounds in the vicinity of Howard Prairie Lake, with a total of four boat ramps serving various locations on the 5-mile long lake.

Lake of the Woods

No muddy banks show at Lake of the Woods, a crystal-clear natural lake high in the Cascades plateau. The Lake of the Woods Resort offers a host of amenities at the lake, including tent and RV camping, a marina with various kinds of boat rentals, the Summer Lodge Restaurant and Bar, a Summer General Store, and a great deal more.