Active environs for you and your male-centric brood, huh? Southern Oregon's Weasku Inn, near the town of Grants Pass, might be what you're looking for. This is an old-school fishing lodge, built in 1924, that harks back to the era of Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, and Walt Disney, all of whom have stayed here. And there's no shortage of outdoorsy things to do in this often-overlooked corner of the state that the whole family can enjoy.
The lodge itself consists of a main building that looks much like you'd expect an 80-year-old retreat to appear. Set off the road in a forest of oak and madrone, the Weasku's main lodge has the air of an old forest service station, with big timber framing, creaky wood floors, a river rock fireplace, and a country-style dining room with plenty of glass to take in the forest out back. This is where you'll meet each morning for
With a short drive from here you can access some fantastic hikes that wander along the undeveloped sections of the Rogue River. The Rainie Falls Trail near Merlin follows the south side of the river along steep canyons high above boiling rapids. Be careful with small children here; though the trail is only four miles total out and back, there are plenty of places where a fall could be grim. But stick to the trail and work your way down to the banks and you'll likely get a chance to see migrating salmon and steelhead as they try to swim up river to spawn. To get here, take the Merlin exit off Interstate 5, drive west on the Merlin-Galice road for about 23 miles to the Grave Creek Bridge, and park before the bridge. The trail starts just on the south side, about an hour's drive from the Weasku. For more information, contact the Medford district office of the Bureau of Land Management (503.770.2200) or visit localhikes.com/Hikes/Rainie_Falls_0000.asp to see what others think about the trail.
The Rogue River Valley is also one of the best spots for rafting. Numerous companies, like Rogue Wilderness (800.336.1647; www.wildrogue.com), operate trips on this river that last anywhere from a half day to four days. Smaller children will probably prefer to raft along 13 miles of the river that burbles with tame rapids. The bigger kids can hop in inflatable kayaks for a bouncy ride down to a picnic lunch. And for other families that might have older kids wanting to spend several days on the river, you can raft about 40 miles through canyons weeping with runoff as you hit rapids through the Wild and Scenic sections. Each night the guides will pitch camp and whip up meals, leaving you time to fish for trout. If you're not quite ready to rough it, it's also possible to raft from inn to inn along this river, by far one of the more unique whitewater experiences in the country. Whitewater trips run anywhere from $50 for a half day to $679 for a four-day trip. The company also runs fishing and hiking trips.