You may have seen Travel Oregon’s list of Seven Wonders in the state. Heck, you may even be lucky enough to have visited a few (or all!). Well, we’re big fans of Southern Oregon in general, and feel like our home is worthy of it’s own Seven Wonders list.
So here you go! This is our list of mesmerizing, fascinating, super unique and fun-filled places to visit in Southern Oregon, for the adventurous local and globetrotter alike. Pack a bag, plan a trip, and let us know your own favorites to add to the list!
1. Crater Lake National Park
Obviously, this repeat from Travel Oregon’s ‘Seven Wonders’ list earns top mention as Southern Oregon’s most famous gem. The fifth oldest national park of United States, Crater Lake is an international destination for those in seek of a totally awe-inspiring view. The turquoise waters along the shore and dramatic view of peaks around its edges make for a one-of-a-kind backdrop for day hikes or picnics. As Southern Oregon is home to the state’s only national park, we’re pretty proud to call this second-deepest lake in the U.S. ours. We recommend grabbing a beer in the lodge during the summer season, or bringing your own to enjoy while hiking around in the snow much of the year.
2. Southern Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is officially divided into three sections, and we think the Southern portion is pretty darn great. At the mouth of the Chetco River, Brookings is home to several worth-while eateries (we like Oxenfré and Fat Irish), Chetco Brewing Co. and Superfly Distilling Co. Head north and find Gold Beach next, at the mouth of the Rogue River. Here, you can play all day at the beach, fish along the Rogue, wander inland to camp, or spend the afternoon soaking in hot tubs at Ireland’s Rustic Lodge (our personal favorite).
3. The Table Rocks
When it comes to volcanic plateaus, we’ve got it goin’ on. The Upper and Lower Table Rocks are both home to endangered wild flowers, vernal pools of fairy shrimp, and awesome views that extend along the Rogue Valley and to the Siskiyous and Cascades. Hike Upper Table Rock for an easier 2.8 mile loop, or head to Lower Table Rock for a moderate 5.4 mile trip, which ends with a slightly higher viewpoint of the valley. Together, the Table Rocks annually see about 45,000 hikers.
4. Mt. Ashland
Mountain biking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, snowboarding, sledding, camping…if there’s an outdoor mountain sport you enjoy, Mt. Ashland delivers. In the Siskiyou mountain range, it’s the highest peak at 7,532’. The southernmost stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon skirts the south and east sides of the mountain, where you’ll find wildflowers like crazy in the summer months. For all you runners, we sponsor the S.O.B. race in July and highly recommend this trail run! In the late summer, we also like to head to the summit or any of the other secluded back roads and watch the annual meteor showers away from the lights (and sometimes smoke) in the Rogue Valley below.
5. Mt. McLoughlin
Also known as Mt. Pitt, Big Butte, or Snowy Butte, this steep-sided, lava-coned mount gives a dramatic view to hikers who climb the 10-mile roundtrip trail (FYI, it’s a rocky scramble at the top). It’s central to the Sky Lakes Wilderness, where you’ll find plenty of hiking and backpacking trails, as well as high mountain lakes all summer long. We recommend planning a trip in September to avoid the mosquitos.
Fun fact: each year, as the snow melts on Mt McLoughlin’s western side, the remaining snowpack takes the shape of wings. Locals see the wings as a sign that fishing at nearby mountain lakes is at its peak.
6. Rogue River
It’s wild. It’s scenic. It’s full of salmon and super fun for rafting. Bubbling up from a spring near Crater Lake, this rugged river gathers steam for 215 miles and then clashes with the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach. With public parks, hiking trails, camp grounds and boat ramps galore, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in and along the Rogue.
Another fun fact: ‘The River Wild’ (you know, that awesome 90’s movie with Meryl Streep and Kevin bacon) was filmed along the Rogue River. Watch the movie, and then go do a jetboat trip out to Hellsgate to see scenery from the film.
7. Umpqua River Hot Springs
On your next secluded getaway, check out these geothermal pools on the North Umpqua River! Three oval soaking pools (one covered) are accessible all year long, giving you a warm water retreat even among the surrounding snow. The hike in is about ¼ mile much of the year, though you’ll have add an additional two miles if the access road is snow-covered and not plowed. Just so you’re not shocked when you get there, know that clothing is optional, and often missing.