Regional Guide

Basecamps - Southern Oregon Cascades and the Southern Coast

Located along Interstate 5 in the foothills of the Siskyou and Cascade ranges, Ashland is a gateway for many southern Oregon attractions. Both Crater Lake National Park and Oregon Caves National Monument lie within 90 miles of the city, and the half dozen wildlife refuges around Klamath Falls are just an hour east. Ashland's mild climate is perfect for year-round outdoor recreation. The Ashland area is renowned for mountain biking, and Mount Ashland's 300 inches of annual snowfall makes for great downhill and cross-country skiing. Plan ahead to score tickets to the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival, take a look at Ashland's historic Victorian homes, or browse the town's many galleries, antique shops, and boutiques.

Gold Beach
Named for the precious metal hidden in its black-sand beaches, the small, seaside town of Gold Beach sits along Highway 101 at the mouth of the Rogue River. Gold Beach offers quick access to three Oregon environments—ocean, mountains, and river—and it falls within Oregon's "Banana Belt," where sunny skies and warm temperatures replace the usual coastal clouds and fog. Comb the beach, watch for gray whales, or tour the Pacific Coast Highway via two wheels or four. Pedal a mountain bike on a network of old logging roads and trails, or take advantage of the jet-boat trips that power their way through the Rogue River's mild riffles and wild whitewater.

Grants Pass
Flanked by the foothills of the Cascade, Siskiyou, and Coast ranges, Grants Pass is known for its mild climate and its prime location on the banks of the Rogue River. The Rogue actually winds through the historic downtown, where you can stroll past antique and collectible shops, ice cream parlors, and sidewalk espresso stands. Navigate the river via jet boat, drift boat, raft, or kayak. Battle steelhead and salmon. Hike the Rogue River Trail, 40 scenic miles that run along the river from several hundred feet above. Grants Pass sits at the junction of I-5 and U.S. 199, just 50 miles north of Oregon Caves National Monument, about 90 miles southwest of Crater Lake National Park, 50 miles northwest of Mount Ashland's ski resort, and 85 miles east of the Pacific Ocean.

Klamath Falls
Sheltered by the eastern slopes of the Cascades, Klamath Falls is blessed with nearly 300 sunny days each year. Oregon's "City of Sunshine" sits on the southern shore of Upper Klamath Lake—the largest body of fresh water in the Pacific Northwest. Take advantage of the beautiful weather with any number of outdoor activities, from Class IV whitewater on the Klamath River to world-class trout fishing on the Williamson River. You'll find six national wildlife refuges in the area and the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48. Crater Lake National Park is just 60 miles north of Klamath Falls, and three ski resorts lie within a two-hour drive: Mount Shasta to the south, Mount Ashland in the west, and the Willamette Pass to the northwest.

Located on I-5 about midway between the Oregon coast (70 miles east) and Crater Lake National Park (85 miles west), Roseburg makes a great basecamp for outdoor activities. The city lies within the Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua, with a moderate climate similar to that of Italy and southern France. The wild and scenic North Umpqua River offers trout, salmon, and bass fishing, as well as some serious whitewater action. The South Umpqua, noted for its summer small-mouth bass and winter steelhead fisheries, runs right through Roseburg. Head east for snow-cat skiing on Mount Bailey or mountain biking in Umpqua National Forest. For local attractions, tour Douglas County's eight wineries, or drive through the exotic Wildlife Safari park in nearby Winston.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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