Table Rocks
By Travel Medford | 06/03/2020 | Dining, Lodging, Outdoor Adventure, Things to Do, Wine


Published May 27, 2020, Bend Magazine

Written by Kim Cooper Findling

On a road trip weekend getaway to Medford, both the journey and the destination are the rewards.

Ready for a weekend getaway to a lush outdoor paradise full of adventure, with plenty of culinary, wine and cultural charms as well? Put Medford and the Rogue Valley at the top of your list. Plan your next summer escape to sunny Southern Oregon, where the all-day fun is only outpaced by the glorious scenery.

From Bend, Medford is a three hour and fifteen minute drive to the south and west. Drive south on Highway 97, taking in Lava Butte just a few miles south of Bend. This cinder cone is one of the first signs of the volcanism that will appear throughout the journey—there will be more! North of La Pine, note Paulina Peak rising to the east. The peak is the highest point in Newberry Crater, a collapsed volcano, and Oregon’s largest volcano by area. Save a trip to this crater for another time, as we have another even more impressive volcanic crater to visit on this journey, and continue south to the junction with Highway 138

Traveling west on Highway 138, you’re surrounded by thick pine forest. The road steadily gains elevation as you approach the Cascade Range. Stop at the Mt. Theilsen viewpoint for incredible views of this stunning peak, which boasts a narrow pinnacle pointing towards the sky. Follow Highway 138 to Highway 230, which parallels the Rogue River, one of Oregon’s prettiest and most renowned rivers, which you’ll follow south all the way to Medford.

Halfway to Medford, turn off on Highway 62 to Oregon’s only National Park, Crater Lake. The 33-mile Rim Drive is not to be missed, circling this glimmering jewel of a turquoise blue lake. Here you’ll find your next lesson in volcanism. 7700 years ago, Mount Mazama exploded magnificently, in an eruption 42 times greater than that of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Rock and lava collapsed into the mountain’s center, creating a massive caldera in place of what had been a 12,000-foot peak. This caldera, or volcanic cauldron, filled with rain and snow over centuries to became Crater Lake. Have lunch at the historic Crater Lake Lodge, built in 1915, before continuing south on Highway 62.

The scenery just keeps on coming on this picturesque highway, which winds under a rich forest canopy. Stop in Union Creek to see the Rogue River Gorge and Natural Bridge, two scenic spots that are accessed by an easy walk on a good trail. Here the river courses through a narrow canyon, creating beautiful waterfalls and rapids. Also, nearby along this stretch of the river are Pearsony Falls, Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls. Back towards Bend is National Creek Falls, accessed by a half-mile hike through a lush forest—another worthy stop, perhaps on your return journey.

Before you leave Union Creek, visit Beckie’s Restaurant, tucked in a classic old log cabin and known for its pies. Next door is a little ice cream shop—if you aren’t full of pie, grab a cone and hit the road. This last stretch follows the Rogue River through the lower Rogue Valley, a lovely grassy plateau that supports agriculture and outdoor exploration.

You’ve arrived in Medford at last, and the fun is just beginning. This rich valley is home to dozens of farms and vineyards. Start with the Rogue Valley Farm Tour, a self-guided adventure to farms, restaurants and artisans around the entire valley. The purveyors on this route support sustainable practices and provide guests with amazing things to eat, drink and buy. You’ll have a tough time choosing your favorite destination on this route.

Along the way, you’ll also encounter many wineries and vineyards. RoxyAnn Winery, 2Hawks Vineyard and Winery and EdenVale Winery are just a few of Medford’s treasures, with tasting rooms open to the public in outstandingly scenic locales. Sip on a glass of sauvignon blanc or tempranillo with a view of rolling vineyards. Or make it a day and sign up for a wine tasting tour with your own designated driver.

Downtown Medford is a burgeoning urban center, with new restaurants, boutiques and shops opening all of the time. Make a stop at the Urban Cork to try a variety of local wines in a trendy modern space. Grab a farm to table meal at Common Block or Porter’s Depot. Breakfast at Over Easy is not to be missed—this popular downtown eatery does a most memorable brunch.

Ready for adventure? The Rogue River is legendary for water play. Take a jet boat tour, sign up for a whitewater rafting trip, try kayaking, stand up paddle boarding or just go for a swim. While you’re out exploring, catch a festival or some outdoor music. Or just take a Sunday drive and take in as much of this region as you can.

Have one more afternoon to fill with fun? Medford is home to many golf courses. Swing your clubs under incredible summer skies at Centennial Golf Club, Quail Point or Bear Creek courses. No matter your score, you’ll have fun in the sun. Then head back for Bend with the thrills and tastes of Southern Oregon lingering in your mind.

Please call or check online ahead of time for all intended destinations to learn the status of any COVID-19 limitations that might be in place at the time of your visit. 


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