Roseburg may seem unassuming from the freeway, a town rooted firmly - as this one is - in the timber industry. But look beyond I-5 traffic and the trees to find this city’s inner (and outer) forest wherein lurk an abundance of cascading waterfalls, long stretches of shimmering river and within easy stomping distance both noteworthy recreational possibilities and diversionary cultural pursuits. Though little more than an hour’s drive from Grants Pass, to the south, and Eugene, to the north, Roseburg deserves mention as more than just a waypoint between the two. Find lurking behind Roseburg’s relatively typical riverside façade fine dining opportunities, fruity appellations from local wineries, world-class fishing holes, fragrant flowers, plenty of the aforementioned forest and unexpectedly, fierce felines, the latter stars at the nearby drive-in safari.
Roseburg itself isn’t large, its tourist amenities concentrated mainly on the east bank of a generous bend in the South Umpqua River, but venture past the central clutch of streets and find trails lacing riverside parks perfect for a leisurely stroll, carefully tended spring blossoms in the Lotus Knight Memorial Gardens and plenty of river scenery. Though avid anglers may be more anxious to get out on the Umpqua to do some game fishing than meander along it, even the non-fishing members of your travel party will enjoy a detour to the Winchester Fish Ladder, where underwater viewing windows offer fresh perspective on your prospective dinner. Be sure to also leave time for a glimpse of big game (of the mammalian sort) at the Wildlife Safari located less than 10 miles southwest of Roseburg, one of the few places that breeds cheetahs in captivity (and for you animal lovers out there, rest assured, this is a well-kept facility and definitely worth the safari), boasting to boot one of the best petting zoos you’ll find in the country – in season, your young ones can even pose for family album photos with cute cubs.
From here, it’s an easy jump back onto I-5 for points of call south and north, or follow meandering Hwy 42 west to the coastal towns of Coos Bay and Bandon, but the most scenic route, if you’re in the market, is east along Hwy 138, which ultimately leads to Crater Lake National Park via a very pretty stretch of Umpqua River and verdant forest, with frothing waterfalls and surging white water thrown in for good measure.