The southernmost part of Oregon is blessed with the state’s number-one attraction: awe-inspiring Crater Lake National Park
. Nestled in the old-growth forest of the Cascade Mountains, the nation’s fifth-oldest national park features crystalline blue waters (pure enough that you can drink them, so refill your water bottles!) formed by a collapsed volcano. The Scenic Rim Drive
is a 33-mile loop that encircles the caldera’s rim, affording views from hiking trails through meadows, past lakes and waterfalls. Mischievous golden-mantled ground squirrels are plentiful, as are mule deer, but lucky wildlife watchers might glimpse elk or black bears. Winter visitors thrill to pristine snowshoe trails. Sprawling over more than 1.6 million acres, the Willamette National Forest
comprises eight wilderness areas. The most popular is the Three Sisters Wilderness, with mountain peaks topping 10,000 feet. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
, popularized in the movie Wild, challenges long-distance backpackers, but day-use sections captivate in more manageable doses. Summer explodes in a profusion of alpine wildflowers. Many of the state’s best hot springs
are clustered in this region. Options include off-the-grid soaks in dense forests, wellness resorts with vegetarian dining, family-friendly pools, and clothing-optional retreats. Ashland
, just 15 miles over the California border, tops many lists including the best small and art towns in America, and hosts the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival
annually from March through October. Galleries, studios, and restaurants unveil new works every month during the lively First Friday Art Walk
. During summer bloom, the Lavender Trail
winds through the gorgeous purple majesty of a half dozen farms and nurseries. Running the Rogue River
rapids, one of just eight designated scenic and wild rivers in the country, is an unforgettable experience. Skilled outfitters will guide you during the season, from May to October. Expect to spy eagles, herons, river otters, and mink.
Stay and play standouts include Crater Lake RV Park
, located on 10 generously forested acres. It offers 57 widely spaced sites to suit even the biggest rigs, with private fire pits available. The pet-friendly, Ashland-convenient Southern Oregon RV Park
features full hookups, and standard and premium sites for the largest of rigs. It connects to the Bear Creek Greenway.