2005 visit: I knew nothing about Grants Pass when I first arrived except it was a good spot from which to explore the incredible Rogue River, the main attraction for me here. Their motto boded well and there is plenty to do – close to Ashland, Medford, Crater Lake and all kinds of other good Oregony stuff.
So I decided to stay a month and see if their visitors center was correct in its billing it as a “one of the best places in western USA for whitewater adventures, forest trails, and fly-fishing. A year ’round playground for outdoor enthusiasts of every age.” I can testify that I certainly wasn’t bored during my stay here.
I was told not to miss the Merlin-Galice Byway and that was one of the best bits of advice ever since the drive is absolutely gorgeous. It became one of my favorite things to do while I was living in the area. It’s easily accessible, only about 3 miles north off I-5 at Exit 61. Indian Mary campground is about 10 miles down the road and Almeda Park campground is about 20 miles from where you exit.Can you tell I really enjoyed this bridge?
I checked with a ranger at a visitor center to see if it is permitted to boondock alongside the road of this BLM land. He said that it is legal but not advisable. Especially with RVs left unattended, there have been several instances of vandalism and break-ins. I decided not to chance it.
But I was having fun driving along and enjoying all the different views and moods of the river seen along this amazing road. In looking over this memory, I remembered my little Saturn wagon very fondly. It was my first tow car and it never let me down once and I even towed it to and from Alaska. I was sad that by the time it had gotten so old that I needed something newer, that they weren’t making Saturns anymore. 🙁
About 17 miles from I-5 exit is Galice Resort – a nice place to stop for lunch on the river. I always enjoy dining el fresco, especially with a water feature.
I wouldn’t go any further than Almeda Park in an RV, but I was in my trusty little Saturn.
Either overnight there or turn around because the road becomes one lane and quite narrow in places from The Grave Creek Bridge on.
In a car, though, it’s a great trip. Continuing on will take you to Wolfe Creek and back around to I-5.
At a pulloff, I had watched some rafters float by and thought of my niece, Heather, because we had talked about taking a whitewater rafting trip together.
As I was getting ready to leave the large empty parking area, a big white truck pulled up right in front of me, blocking my exit. As I was wondering what the deal was with this idiot, I saw a woman get out of the truck, and I thought “Wow, that looks just like Heather.” But I thought I was hallucinating because I had just been thinking about her. Heather lives in Eugene – surely that’s not really her. But as she came up to my window, I could see it really was! She was laughing because she couldn’t believe it was me – she had just been thinking of me, too, and couldn’t believe she saw me on the side of the road! She worked for the Forest Service and was doing some followup in the area. She was on her way back to the hotel thinking that she had to contact me while she was in Grants Pass.
She was traveling with her boss, but work being finished, she was able to take off with me for the rest of my trip down the Byway. I continued stopping to take tons of pictures of us both and the incredible scenery.
It wasn’t until we were almost back to my house that she told me she didn’t understand what I was taking pictures of. I realized then it was just that she was so used to these kind of roads and this kind of beauty, especially in her line of work. I had to tell her she was taking way too much for granted and advised her to look around with new eyes – Oregon is most certainly a very special and unusual place!
More Grants Pass Info:
Grants Pass (Southern Oregon.com) – Grants Pass is located in Southern Oregon about 60 miles north of the California border. It is a town filled with beauty, history and scenic attractions. Downtown Grants Pass has earned the distinction of a National Historic District because of its historic buildings and homes.
Travel Grants Pass – Live Rogue – Grants Pass is a beautiful river town with much to explore.
Oregon Caves – Nestled deep inside the Siskiyou Mountains, the caves formed as rainwater from the ancient forest above dissolved the marble below, creating the “Marble Halls of Oregon.”
Hellgate Jetboat Excursions – I did this and it was so fun!
Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center – The organization’s clinic, animal sanctuary, and education center are located on 24 acres of land adjacent to the wild and scenic section of Oregon’s famous Rogue River. Animals treated at Wildlife Images have included everything from baby squirrels and badgers to American bald eagles.
Galice – Hellgate Back Country Byway (BLM) – The beautiful Rogue River country is the focal point of the Byway. It is 40 miles, one-way, 80 miles, round-trip.
Galice Hellgate Byway (Scenic Byways) – Drive on a road that traverses magnificent vistas of rocky river canyons and whitewater rapids, set against densely wooded hillsides. During one portion of this 39-mile route, the road climbs away from the river and into the Siskiyou Mountains, treating you to a spectacular view of nearby mountains and stands of Douglas fir.
Rogue River (Online Highways) – Winding along with the Rogue River is a great way to spend the day.