The Rogue Valley offers an endless palate of things to do and see in the out-of- doors.
Foris Winemaker, Sarah Powell, expresses her own excitement about the wilderness area,
“My new passion and challenge is back county skiing. I now climb my own remote
mountains and telemark ski down them. I usually ski the high Siskiyous, just South of
Cave Junction, where we have found a winter recreational use for clear-cut forest! With
one of our grape growers near Medford, I also venture out in the Southern Oregon
Cascades, often skiing over what are ancient lava bed flows through the forest.
Back country ski season here begins in late November or early December, and continues
into July. This sport provides an understanding of the influence of weather patterns and
elevation on the region. As the snow line melts and one has to go higher and higher to
reach the snow, it is fascinating to see the seasonal, flora, and fauna changes with
elevation. “While we’re farming the valley floor, wildflowers are abundant higher up, and
so are bears,” exclaims Powell.
In June, one can “transition” to vegetable gardening, hiking and mountain biking and
inflatable kayaking. The hydrology of Southern Oregon is spectacular. Take your pick:
Rogue River, Klamath River, Applegate River, Illinois River, Smith River, and all the
various creeks which feed them. The Smith River is so clean, you can see fish deep in the
water, and never want to shower after swimming in it. The headwaters of all these rivers
and creeks are pristine forests of unbelievable beauty. And this same water allows
growers to farm the valleys below.
From their mountainous origins to their ocean end, the Rogue and Klamath Rivers each
pass through one of the most diverse geological basins in North America. Each begins in
the volcanic Cascade Mountains, and then pass through valleys of ancient seabed,
followed by geological uplifts resulting from ages of tectonic plate movement. This
geology is important, not only for farming (and historically, mining), but for many
ecosystems. These basins host some of the most diverse botanical populations as well.
Rock fracture springs abound resulting in barely accessible wetlands and pristine
mountain bogs. The serpentine soils play host to many rare and beautiful wildflowers and
even carnivorous plants, like the rare insect-eating Darlingtonia. Red clay loams host
immense stands of Port Orford and other Cedars, Douglas and other Firs, various Pines,
Madrone, Oaks, Maples, Alders and Yew, to name a few. The Smith River gorge hosts
the northern-most stand of Giant Redwoods, intermixed with giant ferns, fragrant wild
Azalea and crimson Rhododendron.