A dog-friendly trip to Crater Lake National Park
By Marguerite Cleveland
Crater Lake National Park and Medford, Oregon, are perfect destinations for a dog-friendly vacation. Enjoy accommodations that love having pets as guests and outdoor dining options in the sunny days of summer. Adventures outside abound in Southern Oregon, featuring options along the Rogue River, a national wild and scenic river, numerous parks and lakes. Rogue Valley Wine Country has four wine trails which lead visitors to charming small towns and wineries around Medford. Stop at the iconic Harry and David store for some locally made treats.
Insider Tip: Visit TravelMedford.org, the official guide for the area. There is so much to do, and this article just scratches the surface.
Where to Stay
The Compass by Margaritaville is a new hotel in Medford that is a partnership with the Coquille Tribe and Margaritaville. The Coquille people’s “Spirit of the Potlatch” is a tradition of hospitality long practiced by the tribe. This welcoming environment is also pet friendly with a location that makes it a perfect base from which to explore Crater Lake National Park.
Although the size of a chain hotel, the Compass brings a resort feel with its high ceilings and tropical décor. The rolling hills of the Rogue Valley surround the pool deck, and the expansive lawn is popular for games of corn hole. The open-air bar has a beachy vibe with tropical drinks, and happy hour offering amazing specials each afternoon. The tropical décor carries into comfortable rooms with custom bedding. Families will love the bunk bed option with a choice of a king- or two queen-size beds, or splurge on a one-bedroom king suite for a couple’s getaway. Pets are welcome with a modest pet fee. Each morning, enjoy a scrumptious breakfast buffet with both hot and cold favorites.
Compass by Margaritaville
Where to Eat
Traveling with pets during the summer necessitates alfresco dining, and Medford has a variety of options. The Southern Oregon Artisan Corridor, located in Central Point, will delight foodies with the Rogue Creamery’s award-winning blue cheeses, Lillie Belle Farms gourmet chocolates and Ledger David Cellars. Pick up supplies for a picnic or relax at Ledger David’s outdoor tasting room to enjoy your bounty. No trip to Crater Lake National Park is complete without a trip to Beckie’s Café for the celebrated pies. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Beckie’s has been dishing up delectable comfort food since 1926. Get your pie to go and enjoy at the picnic tables nestled in a garden shaded by old-growth trees.
A local favorite is Jasper’s, with a variety of burgers, hotdogs and shakes. It’s a dive, but the outdoor garden area is pleasant with tables under shade trees and awnings. Order a burger patty for your dog to enjoy. Jasper’s also has puppy ice cream. Many of the wineries on the wine trails surrounding Medford have pet-friendly areas where visitors can enjoy outdoor tastings.
Insider Tip: Enjoy happy hour each afternoon at The 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill in the Compass, which offers outdoor seating, and Fido is welcome. Great specials on food and drink.
5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill - CompassHotel.com/medford/eat-drink
Southern Oregon Artisan Corridor - TravelMedford.org/artisan-corridor
Beckie’s Café - UnionCreekOregon.com/dining/beckies-café/
What to Do
Jaws drop upon the first views of this water-filled collapsed volcano at Crater Lake National Park. It is absolutely stunning, as the rocky terrain contrasts with crystal blue water. The massive snowfall this year deluged the park with 52 feet of snow, so visitors will likely see snow into July before Rim Drive around the lake is completely clear. The park is surprisingly pet friendly with five trails that allow pets. These range from short hikes to the challenging Pacific Crest Trail, which passes through the park. Other areas include the overlooks, roads, campgrounds, picnic areas and paved parking lots.
Insider Tip: Plan to arrive at the park early to avoid the crowds.
You will want to take Highway 62, also known as Crater Lake Highway, from Medford to Crater Lake National Park. On the way back, stop at the Rogue River Gorge Viewpoint for a short .3-mile loop trail, which has four viewpoints of the Rogue River Gorge and interpretive signs. It is pet friendly, but some animals may be frightened by the loud rushing water. Right next door is Beckie’s for a pie stop. A little further down Highway 62 is the Natural Bridge Trail. The shorter trail leads to an ancient lava tube where the Rogue River sinks away, running underground before popping back up further downstream. Later in the summer, when water levels are lower, it forms a natural land bridge. The trail is very scenic with plenty of benches for a rest or to enjoy the sounds of the birds chirping and the rushing water. This stop is also pet friendly.
Crater Lake National Park - NPS.gov/crla
Rogue Gorge Trail - AllTrails.com/trail/us/oregon/rogue-gorge-trail--2
Natural Bridge Trail - TravelMedford.org/natural-bridge-trail