Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Valley of the Rogue State Park

The Valley of the Rogue State Park is immediately off of I-5.  Connected to a rest area, I watched many people come in after I was set up and leave before I had broken down.  A few people even just slept in their cars with no sign of camping equipment.  This seems less like a camping destination and more like a stop-over.

Valley of the Rogue State Park offers Junior Ranger programs, many of which looked quite interesting.  There are a couple of short trails a decent walk from the campsite.  The terrain is very even for walking and possibly of a quality for a bouncy stroller ride.  One of the trails leads to a viewing deck of the river which had been torn out due to damages when we visited.  The "scenic" view of the river wound up being a traditional river view plus houses on the opposing side.  I never spotted a playground for the kiddos.  Finally, there were a huge number of Himalayan blackberries, should you be visiting during the correct season.  The Oregon Caves National Monument and Crater Lake are within driving distance, though it is a fairly considerable drive.  Activities at this park merit only a 2 - an effort has been made, but there is very little within the park and within reasonable driving distance.

Site Quality
Tent sites are set apart from hookup sites in their own loop.  The loops are well spaced apart, so you certainly don't have to worry about hearing annoying TVs.  It's a fairly large park, as well, so there are many sites to choose from.  However, the loop for the tent sites is really close to I-5, separately merely by a large berm and a little elevation.  If you are a light sleeper, you will waken to rattling trucks and rushing cars all night.  We did not have a problem sleeping, but it did create a significant amount of noise pollution during the day.  The furthest loop does have a few sites that are far enough removed from I-5 to have a little peace.

The sites themselves are very large and there's really no indication to help you understand where your site begins and ends.  Space is not a problem, but expect little privacy.  For the most part the landscape is dominated by yellowing grass and concrete parking pads.  Few shrubs exist in the park and certainly have not been placed for privacy.  There are, however, many tall trees lending each site mottled shade.  It's a short walk from your site to the restroom, where you can turn around and view the freeway.  You may have to cut between other camper's sites, though.  The sites really give you the impression of a place to park and sleep, causing my judgement of their quality to be a 1.

I noticed a substantial level of toilet paper litter in the bathrooms whenever I used them.  Hot dog wrappers seemed to be a frequent occurrence on the grounds.  Also, the grassy areas that could be used as fields or play areas were generally pretty uneven and weedy.  The cold water did not function in one shower.  I reported this issue to the rangers in the evening, offering to hang a sign since they were both male.  They declined as the showers were closing, but I noticed the repair had not been made nor had a notification been hung the next morning.

Each loop has it's own set of hosts with an additional set of interpretive hosts.  I never had the opportunity to interact with any of the hosts, but I was certainly intrigued by the idea of an interpretive host!  When I spoke with the rangers, they were always very friendly and helpful.  It seemed as though the park had strong staff, but perhaps a lack of maintenance or respect from patrons.  For this reason, the site scores a 3.

Overall Value
This park is priced competitively with other state parks that have a lot more to give in the way of experiences.  It is very convenient for travelers or as a place to crash, but I'm really looking for a all-encompassing experience from a park.  I want it to be more than a substitute hotel.  For the sheer convenience and decent weather when compared to some of the high elevation destinations near the park, I am going to generously rank Valley of the Rogue's overall value at a 2.

A mobile table and fixed fire pit was available to each site.  Water and garbage was always within a short walk.  Recyclables were not paired up with garbage facilities, though, and a long walk to a neighboring loop to use one giant rollcart was necessary.  Due to this, I noticed a high level of recyclable material tossed in with the garbage, despite the promotion of recycling on park bulletin boards.  Tent, hookup, and yurt sites are all available.  There is a day use area, though it seems to double as a rest area.  There was some nice high desert scenery on the opposite side of I-5.  We enjoyed observing birds as well as some shy little prairie dogs or ground hogs who wouldn't allow us close enough to identify them.

Miscellaneous Notes
Credit, debit, cash, and check are all accepted at this state park.  There were a few mosquitos at the park, though they were hardly noticeable.  Central bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers were an easy walk from any given site.  As the park is along I-5, cell phone reception is excellent except T-Mobile showed only one bar.

How hard is it to find?
If you can find I-5 and read signs, you can find Valley of the Rogue State Park!

Will you go back?
Honestly, no.  I'm happy to have had the opportunity to experience the park, but I have an aunt and uncle in Medford, should I need a stop over in that area.  There are also a number of federal campgrounds I would prefer to this one.

Valley of the Rogue is completely acceptable, assuming that you're merely looking for a place to spend the night while out and about, experiencing other activities in the vicinity.  However, I would not consider it a destination in and of itself.

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