I live right on this scenic byway and can attest to its beauty. It’s indeed worth a few days of your time.
This byway is named for two rivers: the Rogue (in my backyard) and the Umpqua. Of the two, the Rogue is regarded more for its rafting. The Medford Mail Tribune readers picked Noah’s River Adventures as their favorite guide service last year in an annual poll.
There are many other companies in Jackson and Josephine counties that operate rafting trips. If you’re driving Highway 1 up from California, you should take Highway 199 into Oregon, and you will pass right by Grants Pass, a major jumping-off point for river trips and the gateway to the Rogue’s Wild and Scenic section.
You’ll want to do your wine tasting early on, as most wineries on the byway are in the Gold Hill/Sams Valley areas. Del Rio is one of the area’s best, just a couple of miles from Gold Hill, where the byway begins. Folin and Cliff Creek cellars and Agate Ridge all are in the Sams Valley area, which surrounds the byway near the Table Rocks. Make sure to stop for a hike on these mesas, locals’ favorite hiking trails.
Finally, Crater Lake Cellars in Shady Cove is one of the last stops on the area’s wine-tasting trail. See the Mail Tribune’s complete guide to wine tasting in the region.
As far as lodging goes, there is a variety, from hotels and country inns to camping. The Edgewater Inn in Shady Cove has reasonably nice accommodations. Between that town and Diamond Lake, Prospect Hotel is about the only lodging.
Additionally, here is a story from the Mail Tribune about a few of the waterfalls on the byway.