Photo: Kayaking the Oregon Coast near Port Orford, courtesy of South Coast Tours
If you love the outdoors, Southern Oregon is a must-visit region with numerous adventures to uncover. You may raft the Wild & Scenic Rogue River, hike and bike beautiful mountain trails, paddle along the Oregon coast, explore caves, and soar through the air on a zipline.
When you are ready to dive into an adventure, let Southern Oregon answer the call!
Visit Crater Lake
Crater Lake is the gem of Southern Oregon — where you can hike, bike, sightsee, stargaze, and much more. Only an hour north of Medford, this must be your first stop.
There are many hiking trails at Crater Lake National Park, all of which are marked on the map and park brochures. While you could explore Crater Lake for days, you can also enjoy it if you only have a limited amount of time. Enter the park and go to Rim Village, where you can walk up to the edge of the lake. It’s a perfect picture spot and gives you a beautiful snapshot of this natural wonder.
If you have more time, the Rim Drive lets you experience Crater Lake in a very unique way. It’s a 33-mile road around the lake with more than 30 pull outs, which offer awesome views. The drive takes about 2-3 hours, and it’s one of America’s most scenic byways. The full loop is usually open from early July to late October.
Or if you prefer to hit the ground running, bring your bike! Bicycling is allowed on paved roads and the unpaved Grayback Drive. Bikes are not allowed on the trails, except for the Pinnacles Trail. You can also rent bikes at Diamond Lake Resort, five miles north of the park.
Rafting & Kayaking Adventures
Southern Oregon has many fascinating lakes, rivers and water features. If you love the water, there are plenty of ways to get your feet wet!
The Rogue River is famous in Oregon and around the world. Here at Indigo Creek, we offer overnight Rogue River rafting trips which last 2-5 days. We also offer a short trip known as the Rogue Valley Rapid Run, which gives participants a taste of whitewater rafting. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve rafted for years, the Rogue River is fun for everyone. There’s everything from thrilling whitewater, to beautiful scenery, roaming wildlife, and more.
Situated in a rugged river canyon, the Rogue River pools and drops, never missing a beat. At Indigo Creek, we also like to bring a feeling of home while on the water. Our awesome river guides prepare delicious meals to enjoy during your downtime on the trip.
Kayaking On The Coast
For the true water lover, the fun continues with kayaking along the Southern Oregon coast. South Coast Tours offers several kayaking and SUP options from Coos Bay, Port Orford and Brookings. Some of these tours also combine paddling with snorkeling or fishing.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the 22-mile, two-day paddle from Gold Beach to Whaleshead Beach along the Banana Belt. The route includes the Arches territory adjacent to Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Along the way you’ll see natural arches, sea caves and coves. This stretch of water draws kayakers from around the world. Are you one of them?
Hike & Bike at Oregon’s Smith River
Oregon’s Smith River is a 90-mile tributary of the Umpqua River. The river was named for Jedediah Smith, who in 1828 led a party of explorers from Utah to Northern California and Southern Oregon.
The area attracts outdoor adventurers because it gets you moving on foot or bike. 8.5-10 miles of the hike is done on foot, and the remaining distance is a return trip on bicycle.
Stash your bike near Kentucky Falls Trailhead, then drive to North Fork Smith Trailhead. Follow the trail north through an old growth forest with Douglas Fir, Cedar and Big Leaf Maple trees.
At 1.6 miles in, you’ll cross Smith River on a new bridge. After 3.7 miles, you’ll arrive at the second bridge river crossing. The trail passes a few campsites as it goes another 3.5 miles to the junction with Kentucky Falls Trail.
Take a moment to enjoy the scenery at North Fork Falls and Lower Kentucky Falls before hiking 1.3 miles to Upper Kentucky Falls. After another .75 miles, you’ll be at the Kentucky Falls Trailhead. From there, the paved road travels uphill for about two miles. Then, get your bike and ride back to North Fork Smith Trailhead on roads 919 and 23.
Outdoor Exploration in Illinois River Valley
Your great Southern Oregon adventure then heads to the Illinois River Valley, with its own unique set of experiences. Take a hike, explore the caves, and enjoy the next leg of your journey.
Hike Eight Dollar Mountain
If you take the one-mile Jeffrey Pine Loop at the Eight Dollar Mountain trailhead, it’s a moderate hike with views of the Illinois River. If the kids are with you, the Boardwalk Trail is perfect for the littles ones and is wheelchair accessible. There are also educational panels describing the local flora and fauna.
Explore the Oregon Caves
The Oregon Caves National Monument is a natural wonder, located in the heart of Southern Oregon.
If you visit the Oregon Caves in the spring or summer, remember to wear a warm coat when you tour these magnificent underground caverns. It’s cold down there!
Led by an experienced ranger, you’ll witness stunning marble halls and the amazing history layered within the walls. Afterwards you can hike the Cliff Nature Trail — a 0.7 mile trail with amazing panoramic views of the Illinois Valley.
ZipLine in Gold Hill
If you want to soar like a bird, then you must try ziplining!
Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure is one of the coolest thrills in Southern Oregon. It’s as close to touching the tops of the trees as you will get.
This unforgettable zipline adventure has you soaring over 2,700 feet of zip on the five-line course. A thrilling adrenaline rush, the tour is about three hours and led by one of their knowledgeable and certified ZipLine guides. The entire tour is full of awesome views, including Crater Lake Rim, Mt. McLoughlin and Table Rocks.
Experience The Great Outdoors
Southern Oregon’s lakes, rivers, mountains, caves and trails are unique. They offer experiences you won’t find anywhere else, and will satisfy your heart’s desire for adventure.