As Realtors in Southern Oregon for over 20 years, we have met hundreds of families moving into our area from out of state. We quickly become their “go-to” for advice on where to go, what to do, and how to enjoy our great outdoors. We quickly realized that our job was not just selling homes, but it was selling the Southern Oregon lifestyle. For that reason, we wrote “Discovering Southern Oregon” and published it on our website. The content is divided into twenty-one sections such as hikes, theaters, golf courses, rivers, lakes, drives, and wineries. Every year we discover more and publish more.  You can see it all at

We are now writing a summary of the “Best” in each category, which we began in the June Jacksonville Review, and will continue publishing in the Review until completed.  Now that summer is upon us, our “best” in category will focus on lakes and guided rafting trips. Our favorites in each category have been scientifically selected from our subjective opinions. 

Best Lake: Lake of the Woods – Within an hour of the Rogue Valley, you can easily reach over 20 lakes so the question becomes, which lake do you choose on a hot day? The right lake for you will depend on what you want to do: swim, paddleboard, fish, boat, or waterski? The majority of lakes in our area have been dammed for the collection of irrigation water or flood control, the largest being Lost Creek Lake which dams the Rogue River. Without question the most beautiful lake in our area is Crater Lake which sits in the caldera left behind when Mt Mazama erupted, creating the deepest and bluest lake in the United States. The lake itself can only be accessed by a steep trail off the rim road which is only open a few months in the summer.  We would recommend taking the boat rides provided by the park service at the end of this trail.

The only natural lake open all year long that is great for swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking, fishing, and waterskiing is Lake of the Woods.  This very point is why it is easily our choice for “Best” lake in Southern Oregon. The lake can be reached in less than an hour from Medford and Jacksonville and is located at the intersection of Hwy 140 or Dead Indian Memorial road. It’s beauty is second to Crater Lake, and it’s view that includes Mt McLaughlin, which at 9,495 feet is usually snowcapped, and looms over the lake. There is something for everyone: a resort which rents cabins, boats, and other water toys and has two restaurants. There are 200+ private cabins that can be purchased, a Girl’s Christian Camp, Boy Scout Camp and a newly renovated Ashland YMCA camp that runs family programs all summer long. If camping is your desire, there are two campgrounds, Aspen and Sunset, which have great views of Mt McLaughlin. Open all year long, you can rent ice fishing gear from the resort marina or head up there on Valentine’s weekend to see a Kite Festival on the frozen lake.

Best Guided Rafting: Wild & Scenic Rogue River – Southern Oregon Rivers offer views of mountains, waterfalls, bald eagles, osprey, blue herons, turtles, deer and so much more! Whether you want to lethargically float and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Southern Oregon offers or you’re looking for exciting class III and IV rapids, Southern Oregon has what your heart desires. The best rivers for guided rafting are the Klamath, Umpqua and the Rogue.

The Upper Klamath River’s is one of the more exciting rafting trips. It cuts through a steep canyon with more than 30 major class III and IV stretches of rapids containing long turbulent drops, and an encounter with two class IV+ rapids named Caldera and Hells Corner. Full day rafting trips including lunch are offered, along with many other packages from Momentum, Indigo Creek Outfitters and Noah’s Rafting Service.

The North Umpqua’s clear water makes it’s way through densely forested, steep-walled canyons. This river, nicknamed the Emerald Jewel, cuts through Oregon’s southern Cascade Mountains, between Crater Lake and Roseburg, and is known as one of the top white water rafting rivers in the U.S. Contact North Umpqua Outfitters and Orange Torpedo to raft it.

The Rogue River cuts through canyons and thick forest while simultaneously offering class II to IV rapids, with multiple access points. You can book a guided rafting trip of 1 – 4 days with no cell phone service, floating 40 miles down this classic “Wild and Scenic” Oregon River. Also available are excursions that camp at night, or float from one luxury wilderness lodge to another, or a raft supported hiking trip. The ability to take a multiple day trip down this remote and pristine wilderness, with choices of camping or lodge hopping makes this guided rafting tour out “Best” in Southern Oregon. Multi-day rafting trips are offered by Morrison’s Rogue Wilderness, Indigo Creek Outfitters, and Momentum River Expeditions.

To be continued next month!