Gateway to US Route 199—the Redwood Highway—Grants Pass, Oregon is a great spot for an overnight stay to or from the Oregon Caves, California’s Redwood National Forest, and the beloved Pacific Coast Highway/US Highway 101.
Branding itself as the “Best River Town in America,” Grants Pass was first settled by hunters and trappers employed with the Hudson’s Bay Company who were following the Siskiyou Trail and later by settlers following the Applegate Trail on their way to the Willamette Valley.
Now more widely known as the home of the Hellgate Jetboat Excursions on the Rogue River, we visited Grants Pass a few weeks ago to catch one of the last boat excursions of the 2021 season. Arriving to town in the late afternoon, we settled into our riverside room at The Lodge at Riverside. This mini-vacation has been one of a handful of outings we have made in the last year so we splurged on a property with an excellent rating for cleanliness, location, and amenities.
Not only did our room face the river, we were a quick jaunt to the swimming pool and main lodge with its complimentary wine, snacks, continental breakfast, and outdoor seating area. Located along the paved river path, we walked to the Taprock Bar and Grill for a meal on the patio (see the feature photo for a view of the restaurant from the 7th Street bridge).
With a 1pm reservation for the 2-hour/36 mile Quick & Scenic river excursion, we had plenty of time the next day to explore the play area at Riverside Park (located directly across from the hotel, another reason to pay a premium for the location).
The weather was warm enough for the outdoor splash area, but we saved our soaking for the river.
Embarking and enjoying the riverboat ride, it was a bit difficult to take photos that captured the thrill without risk ruining (or losing) your cell phone. These photos (credit: Travel Oregon) capture some of the adrenaline fueled moment appreciated by my three teenagers. A narrated experience, we learned about the region’s wildlife, history, and terrain. Wildlife sitings ranged from deer to osprey, eagles, salmon, and turtles.
The two-hour trip was a good amount of time for us. Shorter and longer tours are available and prices vary (longer tours include brunch and a change to stretch your legs at the Hellgate River Lodge). For the price ($211 for four adult passengers), I would have preferred fewer stops and less talking. The return trip takes about half the time and you do have an opportunity to just experience the river without corny jokes and cross talk from other passengers. That said, a highlight of the experience is the turn-around point at Hellgate Canyon (as you can see our day was a bit hazy due to recent forest fires in California and Southern Oregon).
In general, I’m glad we made time for this mini adventure in Grants Pass. If you go, happy trails and read this story for more ideas and info.