There are numerous waterfalls in Southern Oregon. Deciding on which cascades to visit can be frustrating, especially with limited time. Thus, I compiled a list of my favorites to create the ultimate waterfall road trip in Southern Oregon. This trip will have its starting point in Medford, Oregon for reference and follow Crater Lake Highway northbound.
One Day-One Hour
The waterfalls are clustered so close to each other that you will have time to see all of the waterfalls in one day. The total drive time between all four waterfalls is only one hour! With additional time, you can visit the nearby hot springs and Crater Lake National Park. If you start early, you could easily see the hot springs on the same day. However, you will need to spend an extra day in the area if you want to visit Crater Lake National Park.
What to Bring
- Good shoes
- Small towel
- Bug spray
- Zip lock bags (to pack out trash)
- Quick-drying clothes or a change of clothes
The Ultimate Waterfall Road Trip in Southern Oregon
National Creek Falls
National Creek Falls is a 0.7 mile out and back trail. You will hike down via switchbacks to reach the falls. Mosquitos were quite thirsty for us on our way down. Fortunately, when we reached the falls, the nagging bugs dissipated. Prepare to get wet! The mist coming off of this waterfall is intense in the best way.
Estimated time spent: 1 hour
Estimated drive time to next stop: 48 minutes
Clearwater Falls is easy to access and does not require a hike to reach it. It is located in a campground at the Clearwater Falls Campground and you can see the falls from the parking lot. Interested in camping here? There are nine first come, first served campsites. If you are considering spending more time in the area, this would be an excellent place to camp for the night.
Estimated time spent: 20 minutes
Estimated drive time to next stop: 15 minutes
Watson Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in Oregon. The hike is a 0.8-mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 500 feet. This is the most strenuous of the waterfall hikes but it is worth the effort. To reach the falls, it is all uphill. However, there are pools of water with miniature cascades to keep you cool on the way up. The mosquitos were savage here as well: a huge motivation to keep moving!
Estimated time spent: 1.5 hours
Estimated drive time to next stop: 4 minutes
Toketee Falls is known for its beautiful blue water. Despite its beauty, this was my least favorite of the four hikes. However, I included it because of its close proximity to Watson Falls and the nearby hot springs. The hike is a 0.8 mile out and back trail consisting of a series of stairs. At the end of the trail, you will arrive at a wooden platform overlooking the falls. Unfortunately, many people will tell you that it is permissible to walk off the trail to get to the waterfall. This goes against the Leave No Trace principles and I do not recommend it. Preserving nature should always be your priority: not your Instagram feed.
Estimated time spent: 30 minutes
Total drive time between falls: 1 hour
Umpqua Hot Springs
The Umpqua Hot Springs are only 10 minutes away from Toketee Falls. The tubs sit above the North Umpqua River, which makes for a fantastic view. Clothing is optional.
Crater Lake National Park
If you are in Southern Oregon, you have to see Crater Lake! Dedicate a full day to hiking down to the lake and swimming (if you can handle the cold). From Toketee Falls, it is a 1-hour drive to Crater Lake. You could find a campsite in the area or stay at the Crater Lake Lodge for a beautiful morning view from your room. Check current conditions of the park on their website before you go!
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