Roads to summer fun

Five scenic drives that will open your eyes
The twists and turns of Dead Indian Memorial Road are part of a beautiful driving loop past several mountain lakes.Jamie Lusch

Ashland to historic Jacksonville

Voorhies Mansion. Wineries. Britt Gardens. Lithia Park. Historic cemeteries. Hiking trails. The list goes on when it comes to things to see and do on this 24-mile route from one Southern Oregon gem — Jacksonville— to another — Ashland.

"You've got a variety of things you can do on your way," Jenkins says.

The drive, which includes stretches of Hanley Road, highways 99 and 238, and down Jacksonville's California Street, also takes drivers past the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and historic Hanley Farm. Along the way you can discover plenty of trails, museums, eateries and shops.

Applegate Valley tour

A driving tour of the scenic Applegate Valley starts in quaint, historic Jacksonville and ends in Grants Pass, a trip through wine country and organic farming enclaves, past museums, old mining sites, forests, mountains and rivers.

The drive on Highway 238 takes drivers through country peppered with numerous wineries, antique stores, verdant hills and crystal clear streams.

Anyone willing to depart from the beaten path can also check out Applegate Lake and the Britt Festival, perfect for a day trip.

Grants Pass to the Pacific Ocean

Grants Pass is the starting point and Highway 199 is the route that will deliver you to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way you'll pass the wild Illinois River, the turnoff to Oregon Caves National Monument, the incomparable Smith River, towering redwood forests and more wineries and antiques shops than you can hope to sample in a day.

And once you arrive at the mighty Pacific, you'll have so many options at your disposal — to both the north and south — you may have a tough time narrowing them down.

South Cascades and Mountain Lakes

A route out the Greensprings Highway that passes three lakes and comes back on the twisting pavement of Dead Indian Memorial Road has a "magical" feel to it, Jenkins says.

The route takes you past Emigrant Lake on scenic and historic Highway 66, where you'll turn left at the Green Springs Inn onto Hyatt-Prairie Road. You'll pass Hyatt Lake first, then Howard Prairie Lake, before taking another left onto Dead Indian Memorial Road for a twisting descent back to Ashland.

You could extend this drive into a 140-mile South Cascades-Mountain Lakes loop if you keep going straight past the Green Springs Inn (although you might want to stop in and see what the special is first) until you hit Highway 140. That extension will add Klamath Lake, Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake to your journey, along with seven U.S. Forest Service campgrounds situated near the summit of the Cascades, where Mount McLoughlin dominates the skyline. You can pick up Dead Indian Memorial Road again near Lake of the Woods, or you can take Highway 140 all the way back to Medford.

"You don't realize how amazingly beautiful it is," Jenkins says. "You're in a picture."

I-5 Rogue River Recreation Area

It's only about 45 miles on Interstate 5 from Rogue Creamery in Central Point to the historic Wolf Creek Inn, but the offerings and views are vast.

Along the way are places such as the House of Mystery/Oregon Vortex, the sprawling green fields of Del Rio Vineyards and Valley of the Rogue State Park, one of Jenkins' favorite stops.

"It's such a great place to go have a picnic and go camping and experience the Rogue River right there," Jenkins says. "We've got so much exposure to the Rogue River from this route."

Continuing north, you'll pass the town of Rogue River and roll into historic downtown Grants Pass, where you'll find an array of antique, craft and specialty shops, as well as museums and art galleries.

At the end of the route is the Wolf Creek Inn and Restaurant, a gem on the National Historic Register that happens to serve up some mighty delectable food that makes the most of fresh Oregon ingredients.

Of course, you don't have to end there. From Wolf Creek you can take the backroads to the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River, go river running out of Galice and see the frothing maw of Hellgate Canyon. But maybe that's a story for another day.

Happy travels.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.


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