Last Updated on December 9, 2023
I recently had the pleasure of vacationing in the captivating Oregon Rogue Valley, renowned for its tranquil natural beauty and steadily growing reputation as a sought-after holiday destination.
Nestled along the “Wild and Scenic” Rogue River and its tributaries in Southern Oregon, the Rogue Valley is embraced by the Southern Coast Range, the Cascades, and the Siskiyou Mountains, creating a haven of relative isolation and a delightful, mild climate.
What struck me most during my stay was the valley’s extended growing season, fostering abundant agriculture and contributing to the flourishing wine region. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking adventures like biking and rafting or someone who appreciates capturing Instagram-worthy vistas, the Rogue Valley offers a year-round haven for exploration.
The Oregon Rogue Valley is an easy drive from the Portland area and Northern California. United, Delta, and Alaska Airlines all fly into the Rogue Valley International Airport. The Rogue Regency Inn and Suites, a casually elegant hotel close to the airport and downtown Medford, provides a convenient location from which to explore all of the Rogue Valley.
Whether you’re drawn to the Rogue for its wine, outdoor activities, or its natural beauty, visitors say what they love most of all is the laid-back vibe of the region. Uncrowded, friendly, relaxing, you’re bound to fall in love with the Rogue Valley.
- Visit Crater Lake – The Deepest Lake in the US
- Attend the Shakespeare Festival
- Explore the Rogue Valley Wine Trails
- Rafting and Boating the Wild Rogue River
- Feel Like a Local When You Visit the Farmers Markets
- Dine from the Popular Food Trucks
- Go Golfing
- Visit the Gold Rush Town of Jacksonville
- Eat Your Way Through the Food Trail
- Hike the Table Rocks
- isit Prescott Park on Roxy Ann Peak
- Drink Craft Beer on the Rogue Valley Ale Trail
Visit Crater Lake – The Deepest Lake in the US
A visit to the deepest lake in the United States should be on your bucket list. Just a two-hour drive north of Medford, Crater Lake, the gem of Southern Oregon, offers pristine blue waters and sheer cliff-rimmed grace.
On the lakes’ southern rim, you can base yourself at the spacious Crater Lake Lodge where guest services for visitors include guided tours, ranger talks, and snowshoeing in winter. A 33-mile Rim Drive around the lake is usually open between early July and late October. The scenic drive takes two to three hours with over 30 pull-outs for awesome views. Be sure to take a picnic lunch.
Despite being the 9th deepest lake in the world, you’ll be mystified by the clarity of the water. Fishing, swimming, and boat tours are encouraged. Trail hiking offers spectacular panoramic views of the entire lake and other features of the dramatic Klamath Basin and Cascade Mountains. Rent a bike and cycle on paved roads, but keep an eye out for wildlife, especially at dawn or dusk.
The Crater Lake Rim is a great place to end your day by stargazing, as views of the sky are unobstructed and typically crystal clear.
Attend the Shakespeare Festival
The world-famous Shakespeare Festival in Ashland is Oregon’s “Broadway of the West Coast.” The festival began in 1935 with a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Today it boasts three theaters and runs from early June to mid-October, offering 11 world-class productions by classical and contemporary playwrights.
“Time” magazine named it one of the top five regional theater companies in the country, and we would agree.
Aspiring actors, artists, directors, and producers can participate in classes and camps throughout the year. Thousands of people return to the festival every year, not just for the plays, but to enjoy the shops, restaurants, breweries, and bookstores of small-town Ashland, where the festival takes place.
Explore the Rogue Valley Wine Trails
Named a top global wine destination by Forbes Magazine and Wine Enthusiast, wine tasting is one of the most popular activities in the Rogue Valley. With four wine trails, 52 tasting rooms, 88 vineyards, and 70 varietals grown here, there’s plenty to choose from.
Many wine destinations are naturally beautiful, but the Rogue Valley’s stunning scenery will make you fall in love with the region. Rolling hills lined with lush grapevines lead to small rustic wineries and spacious tasting rooms with dramatic views.
- Bear Creek Wine Trail, home to 18 wineries, begins just above Ashland. Spend an afternoon at Irvine and Roberts for sweeping views of the vineyards and surrounding mountains. Their Convergence Chardonnay and Convergence Pinot Noir are outstanding wines that reflect their location and their families.
- On Jacksonville Wine Trail, with seven wineries, DANCIN Vineyards is a must-stop. The tasting room and restaurant are perched on top of a hill, next to the prettiest pond and garden.
- The Upper Rogue Wine Trail is home to just four wineries. Stop by Cliff Creek Cellars for a taste of a small rustic winery experience.
- And lastly, the Applegate Wine Trail may just be the loveliest of them all. The trail winds up to a higher elevation past farm stands, meadows, and 19 wineries. A stop at Wooldridge Creek Winery will make the drive worth it. Pull up a chair on the lawn overlooking the vineyards and blue-tinged mountains in the background. Order a tasting flight and one of their charcuterie boards and breathe in the fresh air of the endearing Rogue Valley.
Rafting and Boating the Wild Rogue River
No visit to the Rogue Valley would be complete without experiencing the “Wild and Scenic” Rogue River. Imagine the rush of water as you raft through whitewater rapids, or the thrill of racing through this scenic waterway on a speeding jet boat, or even gliding along the nearby riverbank where you can spot wildlife as you kayak through calmer waters.
Travel Medford’s “Complete Guide to Rafting the Rogue” provides a robust list of local rafting companies and other boating resources to help plan a successful outing.
Feel Like a Local When You Visit the Farmers Markets
The Rogue Valley is known for its abundant agriculture. Apples, pears, artisan lettuce, peaches, berries, corn, and of course, grapes are just a few of the many crops farmed throughout the valley. Farmers markets are held in Ashland, Medford, Phoenix, Talent, Grants Pass, and Jacksonville.
Here, vendors greet their customers and sell their fresh produce, artisan foods, cheeses, meats, baked goods, and flowers. For tourists, visiting the farmers market provides an insider’s look into Rogue Valley life and a chance to sample fresh foods from nearby farms. Specialty foods like local jam, truffle salts, and lavender soap make excellent gifts to bring back home.
Dine from the Popular Food Trucks
A new food scene blossoming on the streets of Medford is attracting hungry patrons. Food trucks offering a wide array of mouth-watering food from gourmet grilled sandwiches, empanadas, spicy crab tacos, Mediterranean gyros, and authentic spanakopita are just a few of the dishes available from these roaming restaurants.
Bartletts Bites Pod on the corner of Bartlett and 4th Street in downtown Medford provides a great venue for sampling Rogue Valley flavors.
Food Truck Fridays are especially popular, but food trucks also show up throughout the week for lunch and dinner.
Farmers Markets are another venue where half a dozen food trucks appear regularly. Look for favorites like Sultan’s Delight, Argentine Empanadas, Word on the Street, and The Melt.
The Rogue Valley has 200 days of sunshine per year, making it a natural oasis for golf. In fact, there are several spectacular golf courses available year-round for play. With natural mountain ranges and open skies all around the valley, golf courses offer magnificent outdoor views from their fairways.
In addition to the views, the Oregon Rogue Valley provides golfers of all skill levels a challenging yet relaxing experience at each of its fabulous golf courses. So grab your clubs, hop in the golf cart, and meet on the tee! Here are two premier courses that should get your attention.
The newly designed Centennial Golf Club, located in Medford, will provide you with stay and play packages that will keep you challenged on its 18-hole, 7309-yard layout that pars at 72.
Another premium 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. is a semi-private facility yet open to the public. Ten miles east of Medford, Eagle Point Golf Club has adjacent overnight accommodations and offers four sets of tees to facilitate golfers at any level.
Visit the Gold Rush Town of Jacksonville
Dubbed by Frommer’s as “One of America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns,” Jacksonville is also one of Oregon’s oldest communities.
With charming Victorian-era architecture and small-town appeal, most of the buildings have remained unchanged since their beginning. In fact, in 1962, Jacksonville was designated a National Historic Landmark in recognition of being an intact example of a late 1800s Western gold-boom town.
Just fifteen minutes from Medford, you can find all independently owned businesses with a broad range of hospitality, including lodging, shopping, and dining options. You won’t want to miss the wine tasting rooms tucked into the heart of the town. Owned and operated by winemakers that reflect some of the earliest roots of wine production in Southern Oregon, the wineries of the Jacksonville Wine Trail mirror the town’s rich history.
Jacksonville is also home to the annual Oregon Wine Experience. This summer event highlights the Rogue Valley’s finest wines of each vintage year.
The Britt Music Festival, a summertime performing arts festival featuring jazz, classical, blues, folk, pop, and country music, is also held here.
Eat Your Way Through the Food Trail
Rogue Valley’s Food Trail celebrates the agricultural legacy of this abundant valley. A self-guided adventure, the trail includes farm stands, restaurants, specialty food shops, and fragrant botanical farms.
Download a map at Travel Medford and follow the road to stops like lovable Whistling Duck Farms, where you can purchase fresh produce and fermented veggies. Between June and August, Lavender Fields comes alive with its fragrant crop. You can harvest a bouquet of lavender or shop for products like lavender tea.
Perhaps the most famous and iconic shops in the Rogue Valley, the trail includes Rogue Creamery and Harry and David. Rogue Creamery is known for its Rogue River Blue Cheese, awarded the title of “World’s Best Cheese.”
Harry and David is well-known for its Moose Munch and a whole host of other gourmet foods.
Hike the Table Rocks
One of the most popular hiking locations in the Rogue Valley, the Table Rocks, draws over 45,000 visitors annually. Upper Table Rock’s 1.25-mile-long walking trail ascends 720 feet to the top. An easy-moderate trail, it is most popular between March and May when wildflowers are in bloom.
Lower Table Rock’s walking trail is longer, at 1.75 miles, but less steep than Upper Table. It’s also an easy-moderate trail with eight interpretive panels that explain the history, flora, and fauna of the region.
There are public restrooms at both trailheads, but hikers should bring their own water for the walk as there are no fountains along the way.
isit Prescott Park on Roxy Ann Peak
One of the most iconic landmarks in the Rogue Valley, Roxy Ann Peak rises 3,576 feet in the Western Cascade Range. It’s here that Prescott Park, Oregon’s 2nd largest municipal park, is located. The park provides a 360-degree panorama of the Rogue Valley and 1,740 acres of hiking and mountain biking trails, both paved and unpaved.
Public restrooms are located in the Roxy Ann picnic area.
Drink Craft Beer on the Rogue Valley Ale Trail
The Oregon Rogue Valley is a region where handcrafted microbrews and nano brews are rapidly growing. In fact, just like the outdoor hiking trails for which the Rogue Valley is popular, there is now an urban-based “Ale Trail.” It includes 14 different brewing companies to visit in the Medford area.
With Medford’s new pedal-powered “pint rider,” you can rent a 15-person bike and tour from pub to pub. The alehouses offer suds for just about everyone’s palate, from deep layered browns to bright drafts on tap. So, hop on board and explore your inner growler on the Rogue Valley Ale Trail.