A Guide To Exploring Modern-Day Oregon Trails

The Roque/Umpqua Scenic Byway

Two of Oregon's raging rivers and a breathtaking National Park.

From Ashland, Medford or Roseburg, embark on a 172-mile scenic route that takes you to the edge of the indigo-blue waters of Crater Lake, past Diamond Lake, along the wild Umpqua and Rogue rivers, and to waterfalls, parks and campgrounds. Save a day to follow the National Byway signs along this beautiful Southern Oregon drive.

The Treasures of Ashland, Medford and Jacksonville: The Scenic Byway officially covers the Gold Hill to Roseburg circuit, but a southern approach via I-5 gives you the bonus offerings of three of Southern Oregon's most exciting and interesting towns. Begin in Ashland, known for its charming accommodations, shopping and award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival. From here, take Exit 14 to Hwy. 99 and embark on the 24-mile Historic Jacksonville Route. It roams through the Rogue Valley orchards to arrive in one of only eight U.S. cities named as a National Historic Landmark. From Jacksonville, continue along one of several scenic route alternatives. Follow Hwy. 238 west to Grants Pass, via a 40-mile country drive known as the Applegate Valley Tour.. Hwy. 238 east leads to Medford and its abundant offerings. Or drive north to Central Point or Gold Hill.

Gold Hill to the Mountain Lakes Region: The signed Scenic Byway begins in Gold Hill, where you can watch gravity play strange tricks at The Oregon Vortex. Head east along Hwy. 234 to Shady Cove where you can access wilderness areas and countless hiking trails. Following the Rogue River, Hwy. 234 joins Hwy. 62 to take you past several beautiful State Parks, up to the town of Prospect and on the historic Union Creek. Be sure to visit the Natural Bridge and Rogue Gorge interpretive sites. Continue on Hwy. 62 to approach the visual feast of Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake: A 33-mile rim drive takes in the famous sights and leads to hiking trails and park interpretive services at Crater Lake National Park. Seasonal two-hour boatrides around the shoreline and to Wizard Island and Phantom Ship Rock are available. (Approaching from the north, Hwy. 138 leads to the park as well. However, during winter months, access is via the south entrance only.)

Mt. Thielsen, Diamond Lake and the Wilderness Areas: The Crater Lake Drive connects with Hwy. 138 north of the Park and rejoins Hwy. 230 near the entrance to Diamond Lake. In addition to boasting the largest campground in Oregon and Washington, and a long list of year-round recreation, diamond Lake is the popular base area for exploring the eight wilderness areas that surround the region. If you have to choose just a few sights to take in, be sure to put Lemolo Lake and Mt. Thielsen on the list. In the winter, add snowcat skiing on Mt. Bailey.

Following the North Umpqua River: It's hard to imagine a more beautiful stretch of road than the shady, riverside drive through the Umpqua National Forest and BLM land along Hwy. 138. The route passes Toketee Reservoir, Boulder Creek Wilderness, legendary fishing sites, class 3 and 4 whitewater challenges and countless parks, campgrounds and hiking trailheads. Trails to scenic waterfalls are well marked along the route.

The resort area of Steamboat offers a nice stopping point, as do Idleyld Park and Glide. Here, the North Umpqua and Little River meet at a point known as Colliding Rivers. Nearby, The Narrows is an historic and modern-day fishing site, popular for its salmon and steelhead runs.

Roseburg: Roseburg is located along the famous Applegate Trail. Whether you make it the beginning or end of your Scenic Byway drive, save time for the city's many historic attractions, like Douglas County Museum. Visit nearby wineries. And take in the wonders of Wildlife Safari, Oregon's only drive-through wildlife park, in neighboring Winston.

The Southern Oregon Visitors Association offers a free vacation guide with complete regional information, including routes for a dozen signed scenic tours. Write or call SOVA, P.O. Box 1645, Medford, OR 97501-0731. 1-800/448-4856

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