The beauty of an Oregon summer is that you can enjoy views that are never twice the same.

Southern Oregon‘s Umpqua River Byway is blessed with waterfalls, wildlife and camping opportunities. It’s a roadway once traveled you’ll never want to leave for the Umpqua River scenic byway reaches high into the Oregon Cascade Mountains with pleasant surprises at every turn.

Many begin their adventures at Diamond Lake, often called a “Jewel of the Cascades” because it offers plenty of camping elbow room to spread out and play, while fishermen cast for rainbow trout at one of the finest lakes in the state.

But that’s not always been the case – in fact, for much of the past decade, it was quite a different story and according to the experts, Diamond Lake nearly died.

Someone had let loose a fish called “Tui Chub” into Diamond Lake sometime in the early 1990’s. Over the years, the fish reproduced so fast that the prized rainbow trout didn’t have a chance.

Diamond Lake is at the apex of the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway – from here, you can go down the North Fork of the Umpqua River corridor and visit the waterfalls on the way down into the world-famous blue ribbon fly fishery.

There’s nearly two hundred miles of byway where the river is often by your side and provides glimpses into a water lovers playground that’s hard to avoid. From those who cast flies for big fish to those who grab paddles to tackle big waves…and then there are the quiet times for those ready to explore less traveled trails to spectacular waterfalls.

The Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway is blessed with a variety of hiking trails and many of those lead to spectacular waterfalls including Watson Creek Falls. The trail is a half-mile long – uphill for the most part, but the good news is that it is all downhill on the way back to your vehicle. Be sure to bring your camera.

This mountain byway unwinds to become another scenic route, the Umpqua Scenic Byway, west of Roseburg, that delivers you toward the coastline along the main Umpqua River.

Be Prepared for something special off Oregon State Highway 38: at first glance, what appears to be dancing antlers across the grassy fields of the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. The site encompasses 1,040 acres, is jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is managed with public viewing and education with an information kiosk at the O.H. Hinsdale Interpretive Center that offers information about Oregon’s elk and the environment of the Dean Creek area as well as spotting scopes to enhance viewing.

There are also free brochures that tell you the story of the elk and the surrounding area. It’s a can’t miss photo opportunity where elk are so close you’ll want to have your camera at your side. In addition, there is a three-mile viewing area with strategically placed pullouts. The herd of 60 to 100 Roosevelt elk roams freely in the protected pasture, woodland, and wetland areas, sharing their habitat with other wildlife including bald eagles, Canada geese, beaver, and black-tailed deer.

The two Umpqua Scenic Byways offers roadways reaching from the coast to the Cascades and are filled with adventures for you to explore anytime.

Editor’s Note: Grant’s Getaways is a production of Travel Oregon brought to you in association with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board. Episodes air Fridays and Saturdays on KGW Newschannel 8 and Saturdays on Northwest Cable News Network.

about author Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

In this Grant’s Getaway

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