Looking for a sweet spot to dink, shred, belay, paddle or sky-out? (If you’re a sports fan you’ll know these terms.) If so, then Medford is your sportground. With a dense concentration of traditional and non-traditional sports venues, endless opportunities for outdoor activities, and a thriving sports community, the call to adventure resounds in this land of mountains, lakes and rivers. What’s more, the region is charmed with a warmer climate with fewer crowds than many other metro areas in Oregon. Here’s the inside scoop on where to find paragliding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and pickleball on your next visit.
Fly at One of the Best Paragliding Sites in the Country
First, be careful not to confuse paragliding with parasailing. The difference? While parasail passengers dangle from a parachute and are tethered to a motorboat that pulls them in circles, a paraglider pilot must train to launch from mountains, catch thermals and steer their wing thousands of feet in the air, without a tether. Southern Oregon’s rocky cliffs and fair weather makes it a national capital for paragliding.
Don’t have the time and cash to acquire the skill set? Hook in with an instructor from Medford outfitter Sundog Paragliding School. These pros launch tandem flights from nearby Woodrat Mountain April through October. Since the flying site is in Applegate Valley Wine Country, you may touch down at LongSword Vineyard. Toast your flight with a glass of semi-sparkling chardonnay (a local favorite!).
Pedal Through Rugged — and Poetic — Landscapes
Medford resident Benjamin Wood describes mountain biking as “the most quiet, fast and poetic way” to experience the Rogue Valley. His go-to site: Prescott Park atop 3,576-foot Roxy Ann Peak, which offers well-marked trails, loop possibilities, fetching views and mixed terrain. This scenic butte flanks town, so it’s possible to pedal there, but most motor up and park near the top.
For variety’s sake, also try the loopy single-tracks at Mountain of the Rogue in Gold Hill, then whiz through oak savanna and lush forest at the nearby Jacksonville Woodlands and Forest Park. Or venture afield to Applegate Lake to find 17 miles of mellow whoop-de-doos and the lure of a post-ride swim.
Prefer BMX? The track at Medford’s Rogue Valley BMX is the smoothest in Southern Oregon. This public venue even boasts a hometown hero: 2016 World Champion Josh Banuelos. Don’t be intimidated; it’s a super-welcoming track for all ages and levels. For more on all things two wheels, check in at Adventure Bicycles or Medford Cycle Sport.
Join the Whitewater Culture
Whitewater rafting is central to the Rogue Valley identity — as evidenced by the many resident river rats and outfitters that attract guides from all over the world.
The Rogue and Klamath rivers are the valley’s pride, and Indigo Creek Outfitters offers trips on both. Other local outfitters include Rogue Rafting Company, Jefferson State Outfitters and many others. Going with a guide is a great way to experience the river. Not only is all gear and instruction included, but local experts can help you make a meaningful connection to the land.
The Rogue Valley Rapid Run is the closest to Medford and perfect for mixed-experience groups. It starts slow and crescendos to grand finales Nugget Falls and Ti’lomikh Falls, which is being shaped into a slalom course by the Gold Hill Whitewater Center. This will not only make the site inner-tube-friendly but also a candidate to host a competition that’s part of the 2028 Summer Olympics headquartered in Los Angeles.
Get a Grip on Rock Climbing
The Rogue Valley isn’t widely known as a rock-climbing destination — and that’s a good thing. The scene retains warm, small-town vibes, but in the words of Rogue Rock Gym owner Matt Lambert, there is “awesome rock in some amazing locations.”
His Medford gym is the place to meet up and get the local beta. While there, scramble up the 30-foot rope-climbing walls or get honed at the workout facilities. The gym offers automatic belay devices, bouldering and instruction. It also hosts camps and group events.
To get your hands on real rock, check out Emigrant Lake, Rattlesnake and the columnar formations at the Greensprings, all within an hour of Medford. Head to Mill Creek Falls for bouldering. Learn more at the Mountain Project or the Southwest Oregon Climbers Coalition.
Make Friends on the Pickleball Court
Easy to learn, inexpensive, minimal risk, and portable gear: Pickleball might be the perfect sport. Plus, it’s social and accessible for all ages. Compared to tennis, the courts are small, keeping players in chatting distance throughout the game.
Medford hosts the Summer Classic Pickleball Tournament, but its temperate climate makes alfresco games possible year-round. Try Holmes Park or Fichtner-Mainwaring Park. Unlucky weather? Head indoors toSanto Community Center.
George Morgan, president of the Southern Oregon Pickleball Association, says Medford’s pickleball scene is maturing: Skills are up and more dedicated courts are planned, included at the soon-to-be-completed aquatics and events center, Rogue X. There’s no need to join a league to get in on the fun. Just visit PlayTime Scheduler for more information and to schedule a match with people at your skill level, beginner to advanced.