Southern Oregon

Southern Oregon is in a region of Oregon south of the Willamette Valley, east of the Coast, but west of the arid Eastern Oregon region.


Other destinations

The Cascade Mountains feature prominently in southern Oregon's temperate landscape.


Southern Oregon is a modestly-sized and populated region of the state of Oregon, somewhat independent from the rest of the state, composed of Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, and Lake counties. The region is primarily composed of mountains and high desert, while the Rogue Valley, Grants Pass, and Klamath regions are home to agricultural, commercial, and industrial enterprises.

Southern Oregon has become a popular retirement community over the past few decades; what was once a lumber-oriented economy has gradually adapted to service- and tourism-based businesses. Like much of Oregon, the outdoors are one of the region's most valued assets, but more visible products include pears, wine, and timber products.

Get in

By train

Amtrak's Coastal Starlight line runs through southern Oregon, with stops in Klamath Falls and Chemult. While slow and inconvenient (access to the Rogue Valley and Grants Pass is provided only by bus), the train is an excellent way to visit while enjoying some of the region's best views.

By plane

While there are several small airports in the region, the primary airport for commercial travel is the Rogue Valley International Airport, in Medford. Because this is the stopping point for most flight routes, tickets can be expensive; the addition of several new airlines in recent years, though, has helped.

By car

The most popular way to visit southern Oregon is by car. The I-5 freeway bisects the region through Grants Pass and the Rogue Valley, with exits at Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Central Point, Gold Hill, Rogue River, and Grants Pass. Travel times are approximately 4 1/2 hours north to Portland, and 2 1/2 hours south to Redding.

Get around

While mostly mountainous, southern Oregon has a well-maintained network of roads that connects most cities and towns. Biking is also an option, if you plan to be in the same area for a while. While in the Rogue Valley, for example, you can bike or walk along the Bear Creek Greenway, which connects the north and southern ends of the valley along the creek for which it is named.

Take note that Medford and Grants Pass are pretty strangely laid out towns. It can be slow to get in and out of parking lots during the tourist season.

More remote areas, including most mountain peaks and backwoods vistas, are accessible only by foot. Backpacking trails - including the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs north-south through the region's Cascade Mountains - are prevalent in most wilderness areas.



Cross-country ski trails are an easy way to enjoy southern Oregon's mountains during the winter, and are spotted with views of the Cascade's high peaks.

The Rogue was one of the original eight rivers included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The Rogue National Wild and Scenic River is surrounded by forested mountains and rugged boulder and rock-lined banks. Check out the Rogue River Float Guide (PDF) for more information on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River.

Steelhead and salmon fishery, challenging whitewater, and extraordinary wildlife viewing opportunities have made the Rogue a national treasure. Black bear, river otter, black-tail deer, bald eagles, osprey, Chinook salmon, great blue heron, water ouzel, and Canada geese are common wildlife seen along the Rogue River. Popular activities include: whitewater rafting, fishing, jet boat tours, scenic driving, hiking, picnicking, and sunbathing.



Popular regional wine and beer destinations include:

Stay safe

Southern Oregon is relatively crime-free. Certain parts of larger cities, such as Medford and Grants Pass, should be avoided during the very late hours of the day, however, as small-town drug and gang problems can arise. Unemployment, particularly from lumber mill closures, has caused minor problems near industrial areas.

Because southern Oregon is so sparse, one of the biggest dangers is getting stuck or lost while driving or hiking. Before you leave, make sure you have an up-to-date map, and that you are not using seasonal roads. Forest fires are also a danger during hot summer months, but these are easily avoided.

Bears and cougars are a rare danger, but it is always wise to carry bear spray when in the woods. Rattlesnakes are also occasionally encountered. If you find one, slowly walk away and you'll probably be fine.

Go next

Southern Oregon provides road access to several surrounding regions:

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, August 13, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.