HIGHWAY 5 OREGON ●GRANTS PASS
Gas-up at exit 58 This just might be the most extensive refueling area found on Highway 5. Here you can enjoy an old-time pleasure practically unknown now to us Californians--full service at no additional charge. And don’t forget, now that you’re in Oregon, you don’t get socked with sales tax. It seems most motel chains and fast-food outlets are also represented.
Cary’s of Oregon 413 Union Ave. This candy factory makes only soft-crunch English toffee. Stop in at this factory store to stock up and taste samples of the six different types.
Downtown Along West G St. Designated a National Historic District, this old-time downtown holds many turn-of-the-19th-century buildings that now house unique boutiques plus a plethora of antique shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
●Antiques shops 300 block of SW 6th St.
●Blind George’s This brick-walled newstand sells magazines, newspapers, and delicious popcorn--just as they’ve done since 1922.
●Oregon Outpost This specialty shop features only products made in Oregon. Facerbook page.
Hellgate Jetboat Excursions 953 SE Seventh St. Trips run daily May through September. Grants Pass is headquarters for the popular jet boat rides along the Rogue River. Jet boats have flat bottoms and no rudder or propeller, allowing for a smooth and safe, yet fast and exciting, ride through the sometimes shallow water. In addition to being extreme fun, jetting down the Rogue River in one allows you to observe some of the area's plentiful wildlife. On my family's ride, the driver slowed to point out ospreys, great blue herons, and deer. We also saw fishermen netting huge steelhead.
Trips vary in duration, and some include a meal. The four- hour dinner excursion boat ventures into the spectacular Hellgate Canyon and then turns around and docks for dinner at the OK Corral ranch. You’ll have the choice of walking up to the dining room or of riding in a tractor-pulled cart. There, sheltered in a covered dining room with window portals open to the outside, you’ll be seated at a table with several other families and served a bountiful home-cooked meal.
It is convenient to stay the night in town, especially so at the Riverside Inn where the boats dock.
Wildlife Images 11845 Lower River Rd., 12 mi. W of town, in Merlin. Reservations are required. On the tour of this rehabilitation facility, you’ll see rescued animals that might include bears, mountain lions, wolves, bobcats, foxes, and badgers. Birds might include eagles, vultures, hawks, and owls. By reservations and at additional fee, a tour cart available for the elderly and those who have physical challenges.
Riverside Inn 63 rooms. 2 pools, 2 hot tubs. Located right on the river, this contemporary motel provides every guest room with a balcony and a peaceful river view. We arrived in town mid-afternoon and took advantage of the outdoor pool before our jet boat trip, and since the boat docks right at the inn, all we had to do upon return was walk to our room.
Weasku Inn 5560 Rogue River Hwy. (Hwy.99). Breakfast. First, a little history. Movie star Clark Gable vacationed in this lodge and also holed up here in his favorite fishing lodge for two weeks and mourned intensely when actress Carole Lombard, his third wife and the love of his life, perished in a plane crash in 1942. During that time he didn’t want to see anyone, and so food and drink were left outside his room. Eventually, he exited to face his obligations and, at age 41, to enlist in the Army Air Corps and volunteer for combat duty (he earned a Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for bombing missions in Germany).
When you see the rustic beauty of this old-fashioned lodge, you’ll recognize that it could easily hold healing powers. And, at the very least, it will work some temporary magic on both the nerves of road warriors who spend the night here, resting away from the highway battles of Interstate 5, and on the general psyche of anyone coming here to recuperate from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
Though it obviously has always been a comfortable spot to kick back, this circa 1924 log cabin lodge is not as “rustic” as it once was. It has been carefully restored from ruin, with five lodge rooms--including Gable’s vaulted ceiling room (#4)--and four riverfront cabins holding nine guest rooms. All have been completely rebuilt and updated, and each has a private deck or balcony with a river view. Some of the suites have a two-story-high ceiling crossed with massive log beams, a river-rock fireplace with a split log mantle, and an oversize whirlpool bathtub. Throughout, the cozy decor consists of expanses of beautifully patinaed wood floors, primitive landscape paintings, handmade quilts, and comfortable furniture reflecting the inn’s heyday era. Forest views are seen from every window. When rebuilding, pains were taken not to disturb the trees and gardens and vast expanses of manicured lawns. And indeed, the whole property looks like it has been here for a long, long time.
One of the most popular activities is fishing. Famous anglers in the past include Gable as well as crooner Bing Crosby, Western writer Zane Grey, and President Herbert Hoover. Since the inn is situated beside what is reputed to be the best fishing hole on the Rogue River, you might want to pack along your favorite pole. Or you can borrow one from the front desk. The inn provides a barbecue so you can cook up your fresh catch for dinner.
The evening wine and cheese reception is a good time to relax beside the enormous river-rock fireplace in the lodge’s inviting Great Room and soak up the days-gone-by atmosphere. On weekends, guests can opt for a do-it-yourself evening barbecue on the lodge’s deck. A complimentary buffet breakfast is laid out in the lodge’s distinctive Rainbow Room dining area. Should you prefer, it can be delivered right to your room. Either way, you’ll leave this roadside haven refreshed and ready for whatever comes at you.
Grants Pass Tourism