There’s a place in Southern Oregon where volcanic bedrock meets towering mountain ranges and vast watersheds — where sunshine illuminates the landscape 300 days a year. It’s called the Klamath Basin, a sprawling subregion that blends the borders of two states, anchored by the mighty Klamath River. It may come as no surprise that this picturesque place is ideal for farmland. Here crops like potatoes, alfalfa, hay and grain thrive and the residents are proud of their products. Take a tour of Klamath’s tastemakers to reap the rewards of these special farming communities.
Start your agricultural journey at Gold Dust Inc. on Walker Farms in Malin. The family-owned and -operated company has produced premium chipping and frying potatoes for more than 30 years. Today the business prides itself on sustainable agriculture, with organic farming, water and soil conservation, a solar power initiative and providing habitat for migrating birds (after all, 80% of Pacific Flyway migrants make the Klamath Basin a stopover). Find out what it takes to produce the delicious potato chips and fries we love so much on a behind-the-scenes tour. Visit during a Field Day or call ahead to make an appointment.
The town of Malin was established in 1909 by a group of Czech families, many of whom still call it home. Witness the cultural history with a walk through town to the murals inspired by farming and traditional Czech dance. In the city park, beautiful towering Ash trees make for more photo-worthy moments. Come summer Malin’s Olympic-size swimming pool is a happy retreat. The Malin Historical Museum is housed in a former drug store, uniquely builty of native basalt rock. Stop by Kalina Hardware next door for entry into the museum, where a World War II flying ace’s journal is just one of the many treasures you’ll find here.
If scratch-made pizza and baked goods are on your mind, grab dinner at Bigoni’s Pizza Barn on Broadway Street. The Czech-owned pizza parlor serves some of the best pizza in Southern Oregon, plus a great selection of beer on tap (as well as soups, salads and appetizers). Alternatively, the retro-inspired interior of Malin Country Diner is as photoworthy as the food.
Rest easy at Wild Goose Lodge in Merrill. The rustic getaway features rooms, cabins and RV spaces, all in easy driving distance to local outdoor recreation areas including the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Soak up the lodge’s relaxed vibes around the courtyard fire pit.
In the morning, enjoy homestyle breakfast at Papper Ganders & Co. or coffee and sandwiches at K & K Espresso & Deli. Both are community staples in Merrill, with the food and friendly conversation to keep you content for some time.
Quilters will want to detour for the colorful samples and selections at Tater Patch Quilts. With more than 4,000 bolts of various fabrics, Tater Patch boasts one of the largest selections in Oregon — it’s essentially a crafter’s oasis.
Continue towards the town of Bonanza. Along the way admire the many working farms and ranches that shape the route.
Gone are the days of a farmer sitting on a stool milking one cow at a time. See the modern marvels of a working dairy farm and milk processing facility at Bonanza View Dairy. Tour the facility, home to more than 650 cows, and discover why the Klamath Basin is the right climate for raising dairy cows. Call ahead to reserve a time.
Hungry for burgers or tacos? You can have both (and more) at at Taqueria el Sombrero. Try the cowboy burger with pineapple and bacon on ciabatta bread, or indulge in a carne asada burrito smothered in the loco special sauce. We won’t judge if you order more than you normally eat.
Stomachs satisfied, head to 12 Ranch Wines, a small family-owned winery specializing in unfiltered cabernet sauvignon, syrah, viognier and pinot gris. In addition to wine, 12 Ranch raises hay, grain and cattle — so these are not your typical vineyard views. (Don’t be surprised to see grazing deer, cranes and migrating geese too.) Take home a Kenzie Red to pair with your favorite dishes at home. Souvenirs like a 12 Ranch bottle are perfect for later, when you want to reminisce about your special time feasting in the Klamath Basin.