Family travels in my own backyard: Crater Lake to the Rogue River

If gas or airline prices are keeping you closer to home this summer, you’re not alone. Soaring prices and family commitments necessitate staying in our home region of Southern Oregon this July, too, but we’re not letting it stop us from getting away from it all…sort of. We picked a weekend, circled it on the calendar, and created an outdoor family adventure itinerary that won’t take us more than 70 miles from home. Here’s what we’ll be doing:

Day 1: Medford, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park

We’ll drive Highway 62 from Medford to Crater Lake National Park, a two-hour drive through some of the most scenic country Oregon has to offer. The kids will want to stop at the Upper Rogue Trail in Prospect (45 minutes into the drive) for a quick hike to toss rocks in the water and play along the shore. Afterward, we’ll drive a few miles further down the road for an ice cream stop at Becky’s, next to the Union Creek Resort. (Psst: come back here in the winter for the challenging sledding hill, bonfires, and hot chocolate.)

After entering Crater Lake National Park, we’ll check into the Crater Lake Lodge, then read up on the ecology of the lake and its first residents at the interactive rim-side displays. Afterward, we’ll hike Watchman Peak, where kids can enter an unused fire tower for fabulous views. Dinner will be either at the lodge dining room (upscale) or the family-friendly cafeteria at nearby Mazama Village.

Day 2: Crater Lake to the Upper Rogue River

rogue-river

After waking up in one of the cozy, wood-paneled and flannel-blanketed rooms of the Crater Lake Lodge, we’ll eat a decadent breakfast in the dining room before descending from the rim back to Highway 62. Backtracking from the previous day, we’ll return past Union Creek to Lost Creek Lake, a many-fingered body of blue water featuring water sports, fishing, and lakeside hiking. At the marina, we’ll grab lunch then take a swim at the public swimming beach before continuing on to Shady Cove, Oregon, a tiny town fifteen minutes away hugged by the Rogue River.

Once there, we’ll check in with Raft the Rogue, a favorite regional outdoor outfitter. Rafting the Upper Rogue is a great first rafting experience for families, as the rapids are gentle and professional guides are unnecessary. The staff at Rafting the Rogue will pair us with a raft (one is enough for our family of five, but tahitis are also available), oars, life jackets, and an ice cooler if we need one, then will drive us the ten minutes back upriver to the put-in location. From there, we’ll float at a leisurely pace, stopping on the banks of the river for snacks, swimming, or resting at will.

By late afternoon, we’ll arrive at the Shady Cove boat launch, where Raft the Rogue staff will be waiting for us. Once back to our car, we’ll drive a few blocks to the end of town to Miguel’s, a local favorite Mexican restaurant with a back patio overlooking the river. We’ll order nachos, lemonades, and maybe something stronger while watching the sun set.

We’ll spend the night at the Edgewater Inn: cozy, homey, and with lawns stretching to the river banks. Day 3 will find us returning home to Medford, where we’ll be back in time to unpack and do the laundry before lunch (the only downside).

If you planned a weekend getaway in your hometown, where would you go? Let me know in the comments!


About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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