The lush Rogue Valley is a region made famous by the nationally designated "Wild and Scenic" Rogue River. Originally the home of the Rogue Indians, early pioneers Jesse and Lindsay Applegate are credited with opening the road to Southern Oregon in 1846.
The Valleys of the Umpqua, north of the Rogue Valley, offer hundreds of charming valleys to explore with attractions to delight all ages.
On I-5 just north of the Oregon-California Border. Numerous national magazines have named Ashland one of America's great small towns. With its wide boulevard, historic neighborhoods, varied gardens and parks, it's a place to walk, bike, browse and enjoy. Stroll through the 100 acres of celebrated Lithia Park, sip coffee at one of the many cafes, or shop in unique bookstores, art galleries and boutiques. Few towns in Oregon can match Ashland's fine dining or lodging choices.
Ashland's Oregon Shakespeare Festival is world famous. Founded in 1935, this Tony Award-winning regional theatre presents contemporary and Shakespearean plays in repertory in three unique theatres from mid-February through October.
Today, additional theatre, music, dance, cabaret, opera, art and museum options have made Ashland a Northwest cultural treasure. The Oregon Cabaret Theatre and the Schneider Museum of Art are two of these gems. A newer treasure is ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.
Ashland loves to celebrate. You can enjoy a parade, craft and food booths, and fantastic fireworks at the city's Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration. Attracted by the lights adorning the downtown, thousands come yearly to the December Festival of Lights. Santa's Parade, candlelight home tours, and enticing gift stores all add to the magic of an Ashland Christmas.
Eighteen miles south of Ashland, the community-owned Mt. Ashland Ski area is open from November through April. It offers 23 downhill runs and four chairlifts for novice and expert skiers and snowboarders. Miles of trails also await the cross-country enthusiast.
For complete information, visit the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center in downtown Ashland (110 East Main).
From Ashland, a scenic drive through orchards and vineyards brings you to historic Jacksonville, just five miles from Medford. Founded in 1851, this gold rush town is filled with more than 100 historic buildings and a main street right out a western movie (it has even been in a few).
The National Trust for Historic Preservation named this National Historic Landmark town one of its top twelve “Distinctive Destinations” a few years ago, and several new bed & breakfast inns, vacation cottages and new restaurants have added to the town’s historic hospitality.
An extensive woodland trails system (it started out as a Jacksonville Elementary school project) is accessible by bicycle or on foot. Walking maps are available from the Visitors Center in the old railroad station downtown. Special events like the annual Chinese New Year’s Celebration and the Victorian Christmas Celebration shouldn’t be missed.
A highlight of visiting the town is the “living history” exhibits every summer. Also, don’t forget to visit the Jacksonville Museum, housed in the 1883 Jackson County Court House, and the adjacent Children’s Museum. Check with the downtown Visitor Center for museum hours and days of operation.
Every summer Jacksonville enriches its visitor experience with Trolley Tours and the Britt Festivals. Named for the town’s renowned pioneer photographer, Peter Britt, the festival is the oldest outdoor performing arts theatre in the Northwest. It presents a variety of world class performances, from classical to jazz to country.
If you follow Highway 238 from Jacksonville to Grants Pass, you'll discover some of Oregon's most pastoral scenery in the Applegate Valley. Visit Applegate Lake and enjoy a picnic stop at McKee Bridge, one of Oregon's historic covered bridges.
The valley is also home to a number of award-winning family owned wineries. The Applegate Valley Wine Trail now includes 17 wineries. These wineries hold a signature wine and food event (Uncorked) twice a year.
On I-5, exit 27 and 30, 10 miles north of Ashland. While Medford is certainly the urban and business hub of Southern Oregon, it’s also home to a growing culinary and wine experience. In Medford’s rolling hills you can delight in award-winning wines, artisan cheeses, and specialty chocolates.
In downtown Medford’s OldTown Dining and Entertainment District you’ll discover more than 30 great spots for dining and entertainment, from a Tapas bar (Elements) to elegant fine dining. Medford also boasts plenty of outdoor fun, live theater, and championship golf at several nationally ranked courses.
If tax-free shopping (no sales tax) is your passion, Medford is your place. Visit over 120 specialty stores at the Rogue Valley Mall, taste fresh local produce at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, or tour Harry and David, the largest gourmet mail-order company in the world, founded right here in Medford. Shop their Country Village Store for confections, fine foods, and gifts. Additional shopping choices can be found at Crater Lake Plaza, South Gateway Center, McAndrews Market Place, and the Larson Creek Shopping Center.
Medford’s historic downtown is rediscovering its heritage with beautifully restored buildings filled with art galleries, bookstores, coffeehouses, specialty boutiques, and antiques. The power, drama and excitement of performing arts can be found in the restored Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater.
On I-5, 30 minutes north of Medford. Nestled along the banks of the “Wild and Scenic” Rogue River, Grants Pass is a classic river town. Whatever your passion—history, the arts & culture, outdoor adventure, fine dining or just plain relaxing—you’ll find it all in this small, friendly town.
Recreation in Grants Pass revolves around the river. From May through September, jetboats take visitors on exciting adventures along the mighty Rogue. For the recreation-minded, rafting, kayaking and world-class fishing also take center stage in the summer.
Combine art galleries, specialty shops, and restaurants with a large dash of history and you’ve got downtown Grants Pass. A stroll through the town’s National Historic District reveals some of the best turn-of-the-century architecture in Southern Oregon.
Then there are the town’s festivals! Spring starts out with Amazing May, a month full of activities that include an antique street fair, a wine stroll, and a hot-air balloon festival. May culminates in the four-day Memorial Day weekend Boatnik races and celebrations.
Classic car owners strut their stuff at the Back to the Fifties car show every July. Art Along the Rogue, the northwest’s premier street painting and music festival, brings in over 10,000 visitors every October.
In winter, the town takes on a different vibe and transforms itself with holiday regalia. Families stroll through streets bedecked with lights, 10’ fiber-optic musical holiday cards, and a holiday village that delights kids of all ages.
Make sure you visit the Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center. This facility, which offers public tours for a small fee, provides for the care and treatment of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.
ROGUE RIVER LOOP - North of Grants Pass off I-5, Exit 61 or 71. First stop is the Applegate Trail Interpretive Center in Sunny Valley. This well-known southern route of the Oregon Trail comes alive here in historical displays. Just a short walk from the Interpretive Center is the Grave Creek Covered Bridge.
Continue north on the Rogue River Loop (or take I-5 to the Wolf Creek exit) and you will arrive at the historic Wolf Creek Inn. This 1883 stage stop still offers dining and lodging to today's visitors. Other area heritage attractions include Pottsville, the river town of Galice, the ghost town of Golden, and numerous gold mines.
REDWOOD HIGHWAY - ILLINOIS VALLEY - Between Grants Pass and the Coast, along Highway 199.
If you are heading for “America’s Wild Rivers Coast,” you’ll drive straight through the scenic Illinois Valley. After passing Lake Selmac, one of Oregon’s finest state parks, you will pass several botanical wonders, from fields of carnivorous Cobra Lilies to meadows of wild flowers found nowhere else in the world.
SOUTH UMPQUA VALLEY - On I-5, 40 miles north of Grants Pass. This valley is where the South Umpqua River and Cow Creek run by the historic towns of Canyonville, Riddle, Tri City, Myrtle Creek and Days Creek. All these rural towns were originally along the famed Applegate Trail. They all offer a wonderful glimpse of rural life in Oregon. Restaurants, lodging in Canyonville, a championship golf course in Myrtle Creek, a pioneer/Indian museum, shopping, a veteran’s memorial, and casino resort can all be found in this area.
Visitor activities include covered bridge viewing, fishing, hiking, boating, gold panning, camping, and touring the Cow Creek Back Country Byway and Myrtle Creek - Canyonville Tour Route. Through the South Umpqua Valley is a great diversion to Crater Lake via the Tiller Trail Highway.
On I-5, one hour north of Grants Pass. The city of Roseburg and its famed “Land of Umpqua” presents a fascinating world of natural treasures to explore. Roseburg’s historic downtown shouldn’t be missed. The Land of Umpqua stretches from high alpine scenery (Diamond Lake) to the coast in Reedsport .
The North and South branches of the Umpqua River provide whitewater rafting, riverside trails for hiking, steelhead and salmon fishing, and spectacular waterfalls. Three of the reservoirs - Ben Irving on Berry Creek west of Winston, Galesville on Cow Creek east of Azalea, and Coopers Creek east of Sutherlin offer outstanding recreation opportunities. The two branches of the Umpqua join together northwest of Roseburg at River Forks Park to form the main branch of the Umpqua, which winds a circuitous course through field and forest to the Pacific Ocean.
There is a new State Scenic Byway, the Umpqua River Scenic Byway, that runs from historic Oakland (on I-5) to the coast at Reedsport. It goes through Elkton and parallels the main Umpqua river. Don’t miss the wineries and the Butterfly Pavilion in Elkton. The Pavilion is especially interesting
in May and June when the monarch butterflies are migrating.
Natural treasures play a major part in the Umpqua Valley’s growing reputation as a grape and wine production area. In fact, the first wineries in Oregon were founded here and the Umpqua Valley is now known as a “World of Wine” with 21 wineries and vineyards for tasting and touring.
To dwell solely on the scenery of this area, spectacular as it is, would be to ignore the difference we humans have made. From the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, whose descendants have created Southern Oregon’s major casino resort in Canyonville, to today’s newly arrived residents, this area takes pride in linking its natural beauty to its human heritage.
One attraction that combines a natural setting with human endeavor is Wildlife Safari. Here you can drive through a 600-acre preserve and see animals from Africa, Asia and North America roam freely in the park.
To discover the area’s history, start with the Douglas County Museum, just south of Roseburg. It contains many outstanding examples of natural and human history. Visit six covered bridges throughout the area. Public interest in historic preservation has resulted in the establishment of National Historic Districts. One of Oregon’s largest can be found in Oakland.
HIGHWAY OF WATERFALLS - Highway 138 from Roseburg to Diamond Lake.
This drive has been designated a National Scenic Byway and is one of the most magnificent drives in the Northwest. It is filled with a breathtaking collection of waterfalls, fishing holes and nature trails. Visitors can easily hike more than a dozen waterfalls. In the winter, Diamond Lake is a popular snowmobiling, cross-country and downhill skiing area with snow-cats providing access to miles of untracked powder. In the summer, camping, hiking and boating are yours to enjoy.
With its famous steelhead runs, the North Umpqua (a designated "Wild and Scenic" river) attracts fishing enthusiasts the world over. There are 33 miles of waterways restricted to fly fishing. Its whitewater runs thrill rafters as well. Yet its tranquility also awaits anyone who seeks it, as did western novelist Zane Grey. There are many public parks and campgrounds lining its banks.