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Southern Oregon Travel Guide

Plan Your Southern Oregon Vacation

Southern Oregon begins where the verdant lowlands of the Willamette Valley give way to a complex collision of mountains, rivers, and ravines. The intricate geography of the "Land of Umpqua," as the area around Roseburg is somewhat romantically known, signals that this is territory distinct from neighboring regions to the north, east, and west.

Wild rivers—the Rogue and the Umpqua are legendary

for fishing and boating—and twisting mountain roads venture through the landscape that saw Oregon's most violent Indian wars and became the territory of a self-reliant breed. "Don't-Tread-on-Me" southern Oregonians see themselves as markedly different from fellow citizens of the Pacific Wonderland. In fact, several early-20th-century attempts to secede from Oregon (in combination with northern California) and proclaim a "state of Jefferson" survive in local folklore and culture. That being said, Ashland and parts of the surrounding area have gradually become more progressive and urbane in recent decades, as wineries, art galleries, and hip restaurants continue to proliferate. The mix of folks from all different political, social, and stylistic bents is a big part of what makes southern Oregon so interesting—and appealing.

Some locals refer to this sun-kissed, sometimes surprisingly hot landscape as the Mediterranean; others call it Oregon's banana belt. It's a climate built for slow-paced pursuits and a leisurely outlook on life, not to mention agriculture—the region's orchards, farms, and increasingly acclaimed vineyards have lately helped give southern Oregon cachet among food and wine aficionados. The restaurant scene has grown partly thanks to a pair of big cultural draws, Ashland's Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Jacksonville's open-air, picnic-friendly Britt Festivals concert series.

Roseburg, Medford, and Klamath Falls are also all popular bases for visiting iconic Crater Lake National Park, which lies at the region's eastern edge, about two hours away by car. Formed nearly 8,000 years ago by the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Mazama, this stunningly clear-blue lake is North America's deepest.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. The other wine regions The underrated and fast-growing Umpqua and Rogue River wine regions offer picturesque pastoral views and numerous tasting rooms.
  2. Oregon Caves National Monument Explore deep into mysterious underground chambers and marble caves at this off-the-beaten-path natural wonder.
  3. Oregon Shakespeare Festival This acclaimed festival draws drama lovers to Ashland nine months a year, presenting a wide variety of both classic and contemporary theater.
  4. Quaint towns Southern Oregon's own throwback to the Old West, Jacksonville abounds with well-preserved buildings and diverting eateries and bed-and-breakfasts. Ashland claims one of the prettiest downtowns in Oregon, with its hip cafés and urbane boutiques.
  5. Wild wonders Each fall more than 1 million waterfowl descend upon Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Rogue River is Oregon's white-water rafting capital, and the entire region is laced with stunning hiking trails.

When To Go

When to Go

Southern Oregon's population centers, which all lie chiefly in the valleys, tend to be warmer and quite a bit sunnier than Eugene and Portland...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:

Travel Tips

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