2020 Keystone Cougar
2020 Keystone Cougar
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Southern Oregon was heavily logged toward the end of the 19th century, and the mountains earned the nickname of “Siskiyou” mountains, a word that the loggers picked up from local Cree Native Americans. “Siskyou” roughly translates to “bob-tailed horse,” which was a reference to the horses the loggers used to transport timber. President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt became alarmed by its natural beauty being stripped. He took action by declaring the region a national forest in 1906, a status that granted it some protections from commercial operations.
Siskiyou National Forest is the site of the only WWII bombing on continental USA soil in 1942, which was confirmed a few years later when hikers discovered metal shards of the bombshell. The park was combined in 2004 with Rogue River National Forest to streamline administrative work as well as stretch the budget dollars.
The closest large town is Brookings, OR, which has, among many features, the closest hospital equipped with an emergency health care center. Brookings has the self-claimed title of “the Pulse of America’s Wild Rivers Coast.” The town also is known for its annual Southern Oregon Kite Festival, which features a wide variety of kite designs and hosts competitions for kite fliers. It usually occurs at the end of July.
Siskiyou National Forest, combined with Rogue River National Forest, has around 1.1 million acres of rugged wilderness for adventurers to explore. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers in the 1930s, a vast majority of these acreages are once again blanketed by a mix of second-growth hemlock, lodgepole pine, and other hardwood trees. It’s estimated that there are about 350,000 acres of old-growth forests, and some of the trees in these groves have been dated to be at least 600 years old.
Several hundred miles of multi-use trails wind and weave through the dense woods of Oregon. Walk the soft trails underneath the lacy green canopy. The forest floors are clad in fern, woodland flowers, and shrubs. The trails are shared by hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists. Several miles of the trails have been set aside for off-roading vehicles, and though policies vary from trail to trail, ATVs and snowmobiles are allowed on most, while four-wheeled road vehicles are restricted to a few.
Siskiyou National Forest also is the site of the world’s tallest pine tree (as of 2011), which tops 268 feet. To put it in perspective, that’s about 27 stories, which is taller than some skyscrapers.
The park also is renowned for its world-class rivers. Over 200 miles of streams and rivers course through the park, and they are classified as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Fishing is top-notch, and fishermen often bring home trophy-sized catches. Whitewater raft down one of the wild rivers, which can attain anywhere between Class II and IV rating in springs. Or wait for the summer heat to set in and spend an idle day of tubing down a serene stream.
Siskiyou National Forest is far from the closest hotel, providing an opportunity for a practical adventurer to rent an Airstream. Instead of embarking at 2 AM to arrive at the trailhead for an early morning hike, one needs to simply step out the front door of an RV rental to hit the trails.
None of the 19 Siskiyou National Forest RV campgrounds have electric hookups, but most have vault toilets at minimum. A few also have drinking water available for guests.
RV camp near Powers, OR, at Eden Valley Campground, which is a smaller facility with 11 sites. Though there are no hookups, it does have two vault toilets and fire pits at each site.
Alternatively, consider camping at Doe Point Campground near Ashland. Though there are no hookups, it does have flush toilets and faucets with drinking water. There is also a dump station on-site, which is a nice plus for some.
Although getting closer to nature is a major draw for many visitors to the southern Oregon region, don’t overlook the charms of the mountain and coastal towns. Crescent City, CA, is a historic port town, complete with one of the oldest lighthouses on the California coast, the Battery Point Lighthouse, which was built in the mid-1800s. There is also an on-site museum that displays photographs, documents, authentic tools used by sailors and loggers during that era, and other artifacts.
Head inland into Cave Junction, OR, and explore Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum. Learn about the pioneer firefighters as they blazed the way for modern firefighting tactics in remote mountains, and learned the hard way what was and wasn’t effective. The museum also has on display seven different types of jump planes that firefighters used in the early days.
At the end of a long day of hiking, adventuring, and exploring, kick up your heels outside a camper rental and watch the stars appear in the crystal-clear night sky. Find your perfect RV camping adventure in Siskiyou National Forest.