Travel Nurse Assignments: Live Like a Local – Medford, OR!
Welcome to Medford, OR! Located in Southern Oregon, Medford is surrounded by beautiful nature and is an outdoor playground in both summer and winter! Unique parks and natural features like Crater Lake National Park and the Rogue River really drive tourism in the region. Plus, the beaches along Oregon’s scenic southern coast are some of the best in the Pacific Northwest! If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll be right at home in Medford with dozens of different wineries to choose from! Explore Medford and the Rogue Valley today!
Crater Lake National Park
Less than 2 hours from Medford, Crater Lake National Park is one of the most scenic spots in the Pacific Northwest. The lake was formed 7,700 years when the volcanic Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed on itself, leaving a massive caldera in its place. Over time, the caldera was filled with water from rain and snow leaving the deep-blue lake we see today. With an average depth of 1,148 feet, it is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth-deepest lake in the world. The park is open year-round for both summer and winter recreation.
The caldera rim sits hundreds of feet above the lake’s surface creating a network of stunning overlooks and viewpoints. One of the most popular activities in the summer is the Scenic Rim Drive which circumnavigates the lake. There are 30 different overlooks to stop at along the 33-mile road, as well as access to picnic areas and hiking trails. You can also bike the Scenic Rim Drive and the road is closed every year for the annual Ride the Rim bike ride. The road is partially closed in the winter due to snow, but visitors can still enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing along the rim. The snow makes the winter months one of the most popular times for photography.
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Hiking is arguably the most popular activity and there are several trails worth checking out. Mount Scott is the highest point in the park and the summit offers some of the most panoramic views of the lake. Watchman Peak is less distance than Mount Scott and is the go-to trail for sunset hikes. The only legal access point for the lake is at Cleetwood Cove, which you can get to via the Cleetwood Cove trail. Swimming and fishing are permitted on the lake, but kayaking and boating are not. However, you can take a boat tour of the lake which gets you up close and personal with some of the lake’s unique features like Wizard Island and Phantom Ship.
Outdoor Recreation in Medford
There are countless opportunities for outdoor recreation around Medford as well. The Table Rocks are located just outside of the city limits and are one of the most popular hiking spots in the Rogue Valley, with over 45,000 annual visitors. There are two trails, Upper Table Rock and Lower Table Rock, that were built in the 1980s thanks to efforts from the Youth Conservation Corps, Boy Scouts, and the Oregon Department of Forestry. Both trails are rated easy to moderate and hikers are treated to stunning views of the surrounding valley and prominent landmarks like Mount McLoughlin.
Furthermore, the Rouge River attracts thousands of outdoor recreation tourists every year and is integral to Medford’s identity. Popular activities on the river include camping, fishing, and whitewater rafting. The river is ideal for rafting because of the abundance of Class II and Class III rapids, which are easier to navigate for beginners. If you’re interested in rafting, make sure you visit Gold Hill Whitewater Center just 20 minutes from downtown Medford. They have a whitewater park that’s perfect for all skill levels and are in the process of building an Olympic-style slalom course!
Southern Oregon Beaches
Medford is close to some of the best beaches on the Oregon Coast and the beach towns of Bandon, Gold Beach, and Brookings are all within three hours of the city. Bandon is known for its awe-inspiring beauty and award-winning golf courses. Check out the rock formations at Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint and take a long walk on the beach at Bandon State Recreation Area.
Gold Beach is where the Rogue River drains into the Pacific Ocean. With the river and surrounding national forest in addition to pristine beaches, Gold Beach offers travelers more than your traditional beach town. Take a riverboat tour with Jerry’s Rogue Tours, or step back in time with a walk through the Prehistoric Gardens. Last but not least, Brookings is just 7 miles from the California border, and temperatures are milder than other towns on the Oregon Coast. Be sure to visit the Oregon Redwoods Trail, one of only two old-growth redwood groves in Oregon.
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Restaurants and Wineries
Medford has an eclectic group of restaurants ranging from cocktail bars and cafes to fine dining and ethnic options. Decant is a family-owned farm-to-table restaurant that has become one of Medford’s culinary gems. Its mission is to showcase how fertile the Rogue Valley is and the quality of crops produced by local farmers. Jasper’s Cafe is another local favorite and has been a Medford staple since 1976. They’re known for their gourmet burgers and hot dogs, as well as 20 different flavors of ice cream. If you’re craving Thai, look no further than Kin Thai, or for hand-crafted cocktails with dinner, head to Immortal Spirits and Distilling Company.
In addition, Medford has a burgeoning wine scene and there are several wineries in the Rogue Valley that are worth checking out. DANCIN Vineyards is one of the area’s most popular and has been producing quality wine since 2007. They specialize in Chardonnay, Barbera, and Syrah grapes, and have won several awards for their wines in recent years. Hummingbird Estate is another award-winning winery started by midwest farmers in Illinois. The vineyard is located on a historic property dating from 1926 and Hummingbird won a gold medal at the 2022 Oregon Wine Competition.