Mt. Ashland is southern Oregon’s skiing destination and offers twilight skiing with lighted runs. // © 2017 Creative Commons user forestservicenw
Feature image (above): Southern Oregon offers exciting itineraries for travelers year-round. // © 2017 Creative Commons user blmoregon
When travelers think of Oregon, it’s unlikely that the state’s southern end comes to mind first. But, as a result, what’s often overlooked is a destination brimming with high-quality wineries; a world-renowned theater company situated in a beautiful landscape; and, most importantly, ample outdoor recreation that’s available year-round.
Here are four good reasons to experience southern Oregon, no matter the season.
Enjoy Vineyards, Valleys and Vintages
At the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains, which form a border between Oregon and California, the Rogue and Applegate valleys are burgeoning hotbeds for up-and-coming wineries. Many award-winning vintages are earning international spotlights, too.
A moderate climate and warm, dry growing seasons couple exquisitely with the nutrient-rich alluvial soil, thus creating an ideal environment for cultivating grapes. Within the region’s American Viticultural Area, there are more than 20 wineries. Many of those on the Applegate Valley Wine Trail offer family-friendly games such as cornhole and bocce ball, along with panoramas of the surrounding scenery. Clients should try wine paired with gourmet flatbread pizza at Schmidt Family Vineyards. Meanwhile, Red Lily Vineyards offers relaxing lounge chairs beside a creek — a delightful place to sip and socialize.
To hop from vineyard to vineyard, clients can use the Allaboard Trolley, which will ferry them from stop to stop on buses fashioned as cable cars.
Summer in southern Oregon is all about heading to the river to cool off. Luckily, the region’s not short on streams or water-based activities.
Hellgate Jetboat Excursions can take visitors down the wild and scenic stretch of the Rogue River, passing into Hellgate Canyon, where a scene of the John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn flick “Rooster Cogburn” was filmed. Along the way, expert pilots will maneuver around hairpin turns and perform choreographed tricks, all while educating passengers about the history of Rogue wilderness. The ultimate destination? An expansive log-cabin-style dining hall, where guests can enjoy family-style brunch or dinner and sometimes feed the local deer.
If clients would rather use paddles to propel themselves downstream, advise them to check out Orange Torpedo Trips, which specializes in white-water-rafting excursions across southern Oregon. Stand-up paddle boards are another popular option to get their feet wet. Or, to reel in a whopping Chinook salmon, Orange Torpedo Trips also charters fishing outings.
Shred Fresh Powder
Every winter, residents of southern Oregon attentively watch the local weather forecast, eagerly checking the snow level. When it drops below 6,000 feet, the ski goggles get polished and the snowboards are dusted off, because it’s time to head up to Mt. Ashland Ski Area.
The resort comes equipped with a full rental shop, as well as instructors who can instruct novice “bunny slopers.” There are 23 ski runs, including plenty of routes for the more advanced if black diamond is your client’s calling. After a full day of skiing, Callahan’s Mountain Lodge, located down the hill off Interstate 5, is the perfect place to kick back in front of a fireplace or soothe any aches and pains in a Jacuzzi.
Take in a Shakespeare Play
In Southern Oregon, the action is focused on the mountain peaks during the colder months. But as spring starts to thaw, theater lights flick on, curtains are drawn and thespians unite for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Since 1935, OSF has brought professional theatrical entertainment to the Rogue Valley, performing each of Shakespeare’s 37 plays along with many other works. It has ultimately drawn in more than 20 million visitors over its lifetime.
Beginning in February and running through October, the 2018 season will feature 11 productions at three venues, including an exciting modern interpretation of “Othello.” At the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre, guests can experience the authentic feel of performances long past; the Angus Bowmer Theatre is state-of-the-art and seats 600; and the Thomas Theatre, where the audience surrounds the stage, is more intimate with a flexible number of seats depending on the scenario.