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Where can we see redwood trees in Oregon?

In Southern Oregon you can find wonderful redwood groves by driving out the Redwood Highway (Highway 199) from Grants Pass to the Oregon Coast. Along the way you can access short hiking trails into the redwoods at several locations, as well as find redwoods along the Oregon Coast once you reach that point. From Crescent City, you’ll want to drive north a few miles back into Oregon. My favorite spot is the Redwood Nature Trail in Brookings. This trail is actually a trail network of multiple loops that wind upslope of the Chetco River. You see multiple redwoods and other pines, as well as a clear, cold creek. Be sure to pay attention to which turns you take in order to find your way back to the start, as it’s not as well marked as we would like.

Directions: from Highway 101, turn east at Constitution Way to North Bank Chetco Road. Go 7.5 miles to Alfred Loeb State Park. The trailhead is half a mile past the entrance.

Should we visit Crater Lake or the Painted Hills?

I’ve fielded quite a few difficult questions, but this might take the cake. My initial response is, “why not both?”

If you have time for both, obviously it’s a no-brainer.

If not, there is no ultramarine blue that comes close to Crater Lake. I wish I was kidding when I say this but the first time I saw Crater Lake in person, I cried. Seriously. It is so beautiful. And it’s history is so interesting. Can you imagine: a mountain, taller than Mt. Hood, standing in it’s place? Can you imagine it erupting, spewing lava and ash and smoke and debris and then just sitting empty for hundreds of years? Yeah. Me neither.

But also, can you imagine a giant hole in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rich soil and a resilient ecosystem slowly coming back to life, one saved raindrop at a time? You probably can’t. At least I couldn’t anyway, until I saw it for myself.

I vote Crater Lake. The water is cold, crisp and refreshing if you’re up for cliff jumping. The views are jaw-dropping if you’re into sunset or killer views, or both. The hiking is rewarding if you’re up for old fire lookout vista picnics. The food is decent, I’d bring a few snacks. But Crater Lake wine is something you won’t want to leave without trying.

Novice tip for you: fill up your gas tank before you get to the park. There are no stations and people run out ALL THE TIME. Don’t be one of them.

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Where can I pan for gold in Southern Oregon?

For gold panning, the Rogue River is a great place. We’ve seen many people panning for gold along the lower Rogue around Grave Creek (just past the little town of Galice…take the Merlin Exit of I-5 north of Grants Pass). You can pan on any public land stretch of river, and 1/4 a mile up any tributary. Further south, what’s known as the Gold Nugget site is on the Rogue by Gold Hill in Highway 234. People also pan in the Applegate River (take Highway 138 outside of Jacksonville). This BLM pdf gives you more specific information.

What are the most dog-friendly towns in Southern Oregon?

Oregon in general is a very dog-friendly state! In my opinion, Ashland and the smaller, historic town of Jacksonville are the most dog-friendly towns in Southern Oregon, with plenty of restaurants that allow dogs on their decks and lodging options for travelers with dogs. Four-legged friends are welcome on all forest service trails in the area, on leash. We’ve taken our dogs on hikes such as Upper and Lower Table Rocks, in Medford, Grizzly Peak in Ashland, and along the Rogue River Trail, outside of Grants Pass.

The Redwood Highway, which runs from Grants Pass to the coast at Brookings, is a beautiful drive, and the state park trails and forest service trails there also accept dogs.

Enjoy Southern Oregon!

Are there places to stand-up paddleboard near Ashland?

Excellent question! Yes, there are several great places to SUP near Ashland. In fact, my family regularly paddleboards. At Emigrant Lake, which is located just a few miles from town, maybe people SUP from the boat dock area at the county park, or from the campground or beach. During peak season (June-August), several kiosks on-site rent paddle boards by the hour or day as well.

About 45 minutes from Ashland in the scenic Applegate Valley. It’s lovely to SUP on Applegate Lake as well. From Ashland, take I-5 to the Phoenix exit, then follow signs to Jacksonville. From there, take Highway 138 to Applegate Lake. You can also head out Highway 140 to Fish Lake or Lake of the Woods, or Highway 62 (from Medford) to Lost Creek Lake.

For the adventurous and advanced, we have also seen quite a bit of SUP activity on the Rogue River, particularly on the (mostly) calm section from Lost Creek Dam to Shady Cove (also on Highway 62, before you reach Lost Creek Lake). There are riffles and Class I-II whitewater to contend with, however.

Have fun in Southern Oregon paddleboarding!

Besides Crater Lake, where should we stop in Southern Oregon?

Before you get to Crater Lake, I suggest exploring Ashland and the greater Rogue Valley.

Outside Ashland, I highly recommend spending some time in the Siskiyou Mountains. Whether you have kids or not, Willow Witt farm is a wonderful retreat. Stay the night in a lodge room or ‘glamping’ style in a canvas tent. In Ashland, I recommend Ashland Hills Hotel or the downtown Lithia Springs hotel. You can take in a Shakespeare show or just enjoy the culinary scene here.

Outside Ashland, the Rogue River is one of the most beautiful spots in the valley. See it in multiple places: head up to Shady Cove when you’re en route to Crater Lake and check out the lava tubes up by Prospect and Union Creek, or watch the whitewater rafters north of Ashland at Galice. You can even hike part of the river on the Rogue River Trail there.

If you’re into winery tours or wine tasting, check out the Applegate Wine Trail or Upper Rogue Wine Trail. Applegate Lake is a wonderful place to hike and swim (past Ruch and Jacksonville), and historic Jacksonville is charming as well!

What attractions are recommended for kids in Southern Oregon?

You’ll have a great time with kids in Southern Oregon! On the Oregon Coast, I highly recommend staying at Whaleshead Resort. They have very unique and beautiful cabins for rent that overlook the ocean, and a pedestrian walkway takes you directly to the beach. The upper units have the best views, but the lower units are in coastal forests and are on flatter streets (perfect for kids to play or ride bikes).

If you’d rather camp, Harris Beach State Park has wonderful yurts to stay in, but you’ll need to reserve early. Lesser known, Alfred Loab State Park is located on the Chetco River above Brookings, and has riverside campsites. You can access the coastal redwoods there too.

Between Grants Pass and the Coast, you’ll find Out ‘n About Treesort, which has treehouses to stay the night in. Even if you aren’t staying over, it’s worth a stop to try their zip lines. Nearby, Oregon Caves National Monument offers an excellent cave tour, but check to see if your kids are tall enough to enter. As you depart the coast on Highway 199, you should also stop at the CA redwoods (there’s info at the bottom of this post).

Right in Grants Pass, the Jet Boat Tours are fun for kids; they zip along the Rogue River, and some go as far as the ocean.

Enjoy your trip!

Where should we visit after Crater Lake?

Glad to hear you have time to explore more of Oregon after visiting Crater Lake! I suggest driving from Crater Lake National Park north on Highway 97 to Highway 138 toward Roseburg (known as the Waterfall Highway). There are many places to stop road-side to take short hikes to waterfalls in this area. From Roseburg, I’d get on I-5 and either head south to Grants Pass to either raft on the Rogue River (stopping at Abacela Winery in Roseburg) or to access Highway 199 to the Coast.

If you’d rather not head north first, drive toward Medford from Crater Lake and stop in Prospect to see the lava tubes along the river at Natural Bridge Trail, and the waterfall at Mill Creek Falls. You’ll drop down into the Medford/Ashland area.

If you’re interested in rafting, many outfitters depart from Merlin, Oregon (north of Grants Pass), for either day trips or multi-day. There’s also hiking along the Rogue River, but it will be hot and exposed in summer.

For the best wineries in this area, I’d head to Ashland, Oregon, where you can enjoy the Shakespeare Festival or just enjoy the dining and shopping in town. Try Dana Campbell for good views while sipping Oregon wine! Then spend a day on the Applegate Wine Trail or Upper Rogue Wine Trail…either will combine beautiful scenery with great wine.

Are there really tree house hotels in Oregon?

Yes, here in Southern Oregon, we have the amazing Out ‘n About Treesort, filled with tree houses to stay overnight in. We had a wonderful experience there with kids, but of course it’s just as magical for adults. You’ll want to check the official website for up-to-date information on pricing.

The treesort is located outside of Cave Junction, Oregon, off Highway 199 (Redwood Highway). I would definitely suggest pairing a stay there with a visit to the nearby Oregon Caves National Monument or to the redwood groves on the Oregon Coast. Our favorite place is at Alfred Loab State Park on the Chetco River.

Can you swim in Crater Lake?

Good question! Short answer, yes, but there is actually only one place where it is safe and legal to get down to the lake shore and swim at Crater Lake National Park. It is the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which usually opens mid to late June. The Cleetwood trail is just over one mile long (each way) and quite steep, dropping nearly 700 feet down to the lake shore. Visitors are welcome to swim in the lake from the shoreline at the end of this trail. There’s really no other access, since Crater Lake is so ‘deep and steep.’

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