100,000 Things to Do in Rogue Valley, Oregon
Updated: Sep 19
Just kidding, I won't be listing 100,000 things to do. But trust me, they exist.
My partner and I recently celebrated our 32nd birthdays with 5 days in Rogue Valley, Oregon. It was an incredibly blissful 5 days that made me question everything and consider moving to the river to become a fisherwoman (I know nothing about fishing). I've now made it my life's work to tell everyone within earshot about this area and make sure they visit at least once in their lifetime.
1. Stay at the Rogue River Lodge
Quick facts about the property:
1 bedroom, 1 bed, up to 4 guests with a fold-out couch in the living room for extra guests
Hot tub, sauna, riverfront patio, bbq, plenty of outdoor seating
Completely fenced-in property for full privacy
Minutes from Shelter Cove
Really comfy living room furniture for decompressing at the end of a long day
Close proximity to waterfalls, hikes, lakes, and 1 hour from Crater Lake
I have no cons about this property, it was an absolute dream. They have weddings and events on the property often (beautiful place for a wedding), but it was empty the weekend we were there which was amazing. I could've spent weeks sitting on the patio reading, watching rafters go by, seeing fish jump out of the water, and watching eagles and deer roam the area.
2. Raft the Rogue
Upon seeing countless rafters go by while sitting on the lodge's patio, we immediately made plans to partake in the rafting ourselves. It turns out there are several rafting companies within 5 miles of the lodge, and rafting the Rogue River is a popular activity that brings thousands of tourists to the area every year. We went with Rapid Pleasure Rafting and would definitely recommend them. It was $70 for the entire trip on a two-person standard raft, and based on the small research we did, it seems $50 - $70 was the norm for a rafting excursion in the area.
After paying, a very friendly, down-to-earth guy from Rapid Pleasure drove us to the starting point of our journey. It was about a 10-minute drive, and he gave us tips on how to paddle the river and where to stop on our journey. I'd recommend bringing a dry bag and a cooler with drinks and snacks.
The rafting is about 3-4 hours total, depending on how often you stop. It took us 3 1/2 hours and we only stopped once. Parts of the river are slow and chill, giving you a break from paddling and allowing you to relax and sunbathe a bit. The rapids, obviously, are not slow and chill. We had SO much fun navigating the rapids, and we felt totally safe in our raft and lifejackets. I would definitely recommend wearing a life jacket throughout!
About halfway through the journey, there's a small convenience store with drinks, snacks, burgers, and lots of picnic tables to take a break at. There were a ton of other rafters tied up there so it was easy to find, and it was the perfect place to grab a beer and a snack before heading back out on the river.
3. Hike the waterfalls
There are literally dozens of waterfalls you can visit up to a 2-hour drive from Shady Cove, depending on how much time you have. We visited the closest ones the lodge, including Mill Creek and Barr Creek Falls. We did the 1.4 mile loop that included the Avenue of the Boulders, which I'd definitely recommend.
After, we drove 2 minutes up the road to visit Pearsony Falls - a smaller, less-crowded, gorgeous waterfall you can reach by an easy 1.4 mile hike roundtrip. These were just a few of the waterfalls in the area—if you have more time, check out the many, many other options!
4. Visit the wineries
In addition to waterfalls, there are also dozens of wineries in the Rogue Valley. We chose the Cliff Creek Vineyard Tasting Room in Gold Hill, and I would highly recommend. It's absolutely beautiful, affordable (try 5 wines for $15), and has delicious wine. You can also bring your own food and make a picnic out of it.
5. Take a day trip to Willow Lake
I read about Willow Lake in one of the travel books at the lodge, and as it was on our scenic detour back to the Bay (we added 1.5 hours onto the drive to avoid the fire at the Oregon/California border), we decided to stop on our last day. This was a highlight of the trip for me and would absolutely recommend to anyone who has time.
Willow Lake is at the base of Mt. McLoughlin and combines mountain, forest, and lake views all into one. The lake is calm and serene, and the temperature on a hot August day was perfection. There's camping offered at the lake and hikes nearby, making it the perfect place to spend a few days.