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A rushing creek in the Rogue Gorge area in Oregon
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The Redwood forests of Southern Oregon
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Resting by a cascading river in Umpqua National Forest 
Kyle Ellison
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Bridge built in the 1940s spanning South Umpqua River in the Fir Grove section of Stewart Park in Roseburg, Oregon
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View of Emigrant Lake in Southern Oregon
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Rushing rivers, intriguing caves, one-of-a-kind towns and some of nature's most radiant gems wait to be discovered in Southern Oregon.

Halfway between Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California, Southern Oregon is an amazing vacation destination. It is home to many natural treasures like Crater Lake, Oregon Caves National Monument and Historic Chateau, the Redwood forests, and the mighty Rogue, Umpqua and Klamath Rivers, as well as world-class cultural events like the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland and the Britt Festival in Jacksonville.

Three Areas to Explore

It's easy to spend a full week or longer in this majestic area. To keep our heads from spinning with all of the possibilities, let’s explore the area in three sub-regions: the South Coast, the Valleys and the High Country.

The South Coast is an unspoiled stretch of coastline running 162.5 kilometers from the Wild Rivers Coast to the Heart of the Dunes in Reedsport/Winchester Bay. For the outdoor adventurer, this exhilarating stretch offers fabulous river and ocean fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking and sightseeing. Directly east, the Valleys of Rogue, Umpqua and Applegate offer hundreds of mini-valleys to explore.

In Rogue Valley, the town of Ashland is a center for theater, music, dance, art and more, and Jacksonville is a National Historic Landmark town with great places to stay, acclaimed restaurants and high-end boutiques. In Applegate Valley, Medford has a dedicated Old Town Dining and Entertainment District, and Grants Pass is a nucleus for all kinds of river adventures. In Umpqua Valley, Roseburg’s historic downtown shouldn’t be missed.

Beyond the coast and valleys, awaits the High Country, replete with cascades, lakes, rivers, wetlands, woodlands and desert. The towering Cascade Mountains include fabulous recreation areas like Seven Lakes Basin, the Sky Lakes Wilderness area, Four Mile Lake, Lake of the Woods, Fish Lake, the Mountain Lakes Wilderness area and massive Klamath Lake, where you can rent equipment and camp or stay in a cabin or lodge.

A view of Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park

A view of Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park
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Sarah Kat Carroll

Tasting Local Wines

And that’s only the beginning. Southern Oregon is also an emerging wine region, Spanning more than 200 kilometers from Eugene south to the California border, the Southern Oregon AVA is the warmest growing region in the state, with hillsides and valleys offering such diversity, you can easily sample wines from cool climate grapes alongside wines warm climate grapes. Unique varieties like Albariño, Pinot Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Marsanne, Roussanne, Baco Noir, Marchal Foch, Mourvèdre, Sémillon, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo and Viognier do well here, so get ready to discover something new. There are more than 60 wineries across the Rogue, Applegate, Illinois and Umpqua Valleys, so you can easily make wine tasting part of your day.

Southern Oregon really does offer adventure at every turn. Between the coast, valleys, towns, mountains and deserts, there are old-growth forests, quiet lakes and intriguing caves. With such an array of natural diversity, it’s almost impossible to spend a day without making some new sort of discovery. So make a bucket list of outdoor adventures and see how many you can cross off in Southern Oregon.

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