The Highway of Waterfalls
Highway of Waterfalls Road Trip in Southern Oregon
Ready for a totally refreshing road trip? Hit the Highway of Waterfalls! This stretch of road in Southern Oregon travels alongside the wild and scenic section of the North Umpqua River—and more than a dozen waterfalls. There’s also riverside camping, friendly towns, hike-in hot springs, the Umpqua Valley Wine Trail, and the Great Umpqua Food Trail!
The Highway of Waterfalls
It’s not always about the destination; it can be about the journey too. And that’s especially true of the Highway of Waterfalls, where the drive and the destinations are all beauties! The Highway travels along the wild and scenic section of the North Umpqua River, with more than a dozen waterfalls to see! Susan Creek Falls is an easy and wheelchair-accessible out-and-back hike to the 50-foot waterfall. There’s also nearby Fall Creek Falls, a four-tier tumbler splashing into a small pool before continuing down through a gorge to the Umpqua. Bring a camera, have a waterfall time! BONUS: Some Like It Hot Springs! Southern Oregon is loaded with natural hot springs, including Umpqua Hot Springs, a marquee multi-pool attraction set right above the North Umpqua River.
Diamond in the Rough
Located just a few miles from Crater Lake National Park, Diamond Lake Recreation Area is located in the Umpqua National Forest, and it’s got all the fixings for an outdoors smorgasbord: hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, and camping (there are more than 450 campsites within three campgrounds in the area, and half of them are first-come, first-served). Spend your days exploring Crater Lake and enjoying Diamond Lake Resort, where you can stay in cabins, rent bikes to pedal the 12-mile paved path around the lake, faff around in a paddle boat, and decide if you’re barbecuing for dinner or ordering takeout from the Pizza Parlor. Decisions, decisions!
There’s another kind of trail to explore in Southern Oregon: the Umpqua Valley Wine Trail. As Oregon’s oldest fine wine region, nearly all of the wineries are family-owned, producing distinct and high-quality wines. Download a map or the Wine Trail App and start exploring among the 27 wineries featuring over 40 varietals. Hillcrest Vineyards, near Roseburg, was the first to plant Pinot Noir in Oregon (1961). Other common varietals are Syrah, Tempranillo, and Riesling. Wine your way along the Umpqua Valley Wine Trail and enjoy the Mediterranean-style summer weather and beautiful rolling hills.
Eat, Drink, Adventure!
Roseburg’s tagline is “Welcome Explorers,” and it couldn’t be more on point for this small-town offering big outdoors. Nestled in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, Roseburg is an excellent basecamp for adventures to Crater Lake National Park, the Highway of Waterfalls, the Umpqua Valley Wine Region, and the Great Umpqua Food Trail, a culinary adventure combining outdoor experiences like waterfalls and locally produced foods and wines. There are four recommended itineraries for the Great Umpqua Food Trail: Rambling Rivers; Old Wagon Roads; Farm to Table; and Sip to Sea. Yep, hungry for a road trip!
Go NUTs Hiking and Camping!
The North Umpqua Trail (NUT) is 69 miles of diverse hiking, biking, and equestrian trail, broken into 11 segments each with distinct natural features, from hot springs to canyon trails above the river, and magical forests of Douglas firs over 800 years old. Plan to do the whole thing (epic) or just do a few easy miles! The full trail is open through summer, and the shoulder seasons are ideal times to pick the lower reaches that remain open for out-and-back adventures. With several campgrounds throughout, you can bikepack, backpack, or daytrip. Tip: The 3.8-mile (one-way) Marsters Segment includes the Weeping Rocks Spawning Beds where from September to November adult Chinook salmon come to spawn.
Tiny Town, Mighty Monarch
The tiny town of Elkton, Oregon, has three restaurants, one gas station, and one bike repair shop. Perfect! It’s perhaps best known for its Monarch butterfly preserve that’s focused on bringing back the threatened species—decreased by nearly 90%—in higher numbers. The Elkton Butterfly Center is a field trip that’s fun and informative for kids and adults alike. You can visit the flight room to witness the Monarch and Painted Lady butterflies at all life stages as they naturally come to this area through September. By the time you leave, you’ll be speaking Butterfly. Bonus Wine: Elkton is also home to several wineries, including Brandborg Vineyard and Winery (an Oregon Winery of the Year), and River’s Edge Winery, located, surprise—at the edge of the Umpqua River!
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