Family Adventures in Southern Oregon

A fan of LocalGetaways, Laura Joseph, sent me an email about her family vacation in Southern Oregon. I liked it so much I asked if I could publish it for her, and voila! Here it is. If you have a favorite local getaway that you’d like to share, send it to – Matthew

Over the past couple of years our family has been discovering what a beautiful and diverse area Southern Oregon is for vacationing. It started when my parents introduced us to Shady Cove Oregon, a little community northeast of Medford along the Rogue River. It’s only about an hour’s drive from the California border and is my dad’s new favorite fishing spot. My parents coaxed us to join them there for a week-long vacation (they promised there would be more to do than just fish), so we packed up and headed north! Our week was filled with so many adventures that we simply ran out of time. We’ve since taken three more family vacations to Southern Oregon both during winter and summer, and here are some of our favorite experiences.

River Rafting

Our family of six rented a raft from one of the local rafting companies, The Fishin Hole Fly Shop. They supplied us with transportation to our drop-off spot and from our ending location on the beautiful Rouge River. They also gave us a dry bag and an ice chest for our picnic. We let them know we were all beginners and they gave us some simple instructions to follow. And then we were off—including my dad in his seventies, to my youngest child who was five. The section is primarily Class 1 and Class 2 waves; perfect for beginners with enough white water to keep it exciting. There are places to stop and rest along the way and enjoy a picnic too.

National Parks

Within a couple of hours drive from Shady Cove there are two National Parks to visit. Our first one is the Oregon Caves National Monument where we paid to take a two-hour guided tour inside the cave. The tour boasted the climb and decent of steps that equaled a 23-story building. We weren’t sure we were up for the task but decided to “go for it” anyway. We found that the guide did an excellent job of taking us through the cave with plenty of resting locations where he would talk to us and explain what we were looking at. In this fashion we never once felt too tired to go on. In the summer heat this is an excellent place to visit because no matter what the temperature outside, inside the cave it is always cool.

We also visited Crater Lake National Park where even in summer there was still snow on the ground! After throwing a few snowballs we walked down to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook where we were able to view the exhibits and learn the history of the lake. The kids also took part in the Junior Ranger Program. As part of the program they were able to listen to a Park Ranger explain the lake formation and ask questions of the Ranger. They were also able to touch some hands-on exhibits and in the end got a Junior Ranger Badge.

Both of these National Parks boast a historic Lodge. The Crater Lake Lodge sits right on the rim of the lake and has a magnificent view. The lodges have both casual and fine dining. They are adorned with period pieces, large stone fireplaces, and log poles and bring back a feel of our National Park history.

Wilderness Areas

Some other wilderness areas worth mentioning are McGregor Park, where the kids were able to visit the nature center and learn more about the local plants and wildlife. They even discovered a floating rock. Another stop we made for ice cream was in Union Creek Resort along the way to Crater Lake. We had heard they served huge portions for a great price and they lived up to their name.

My children were fascinated with the Natural Bridge area along the way to Crater Lake. Here the Rogue River flows underground for a short distance in a lava tube. There is an excellent bridge to view this natural phenomena and a short hiking trail to explore. One more place that we were very enchanted with was Lake of the Woods. It was a great place to spend the day letting the kids swim. We also enjoyed nearby Lost Creek Lake and Joseph Stewart State Park for swimming and picnicking.

Eagle Point 4th of July

There are many places to enjoy the fireworks in Southern Oregon ,but after experiencing 4th of July in Eagle Point my family is convinced that Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Woebegone is in fact Eagle Point. Our day started with a small town parade and street faire. We posed for pictures under the covered bridge adorned with flags and visited the Butte Creek Mill where they still grind all their flour using the original mill with a stone shipped over from France in the 1800s.

That evening we went to the local high school football field and watched their fireworks. Before each firework is lit they proudly announce its hometown sponsor. You learn a lot about a place as you watch fireworks one by one with a particular community sponsor attached to it. We even met the Mayor’s wife who was seated next to us. The highlight of the evening though is the parachutists that float down over the football field with flags flying and fireworks blazing behind them. It was a proud moment for Small-town America.

Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival

The trip wouldn’t be complete without taking a day to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Even at the last minute tickets are able to be purchased for one of the many plays that are being performed. The clerks are always helpful to find an appropriate family friendly play. Before the play we always go early to explore the many boutiques in the town. We also make time to visit Lithia Park. It’s a shady place with duck ponds and fountains along with a playground.

Southern Oregon is filled with many places to visit. My kids have tasted blue cheese (and actually liked it) at one of the small cheese factories. We have visited chocolate factories, fish hatcheries, and old western towns. We’ve explored waterfalls, and have gone on a jet boat excursion, all within a couple of hours from our Shady Cove starting point.

If you have any comments or questions for Laura, write them in the comments section below. And for more insider tips on California activities and tours, California vacation spots, California tourist attractions, California vacation packages, and California inns, B&Bs, lodges, hotels, and restaurants, explore, where you’ll always find best California travel deals.

– Written by Guest Getaway Guru Laura Joseph

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on Jan 13, 2012