From the busy interstate it might not be readily apparent that Grants Pass is a gateway town but it’s true – your short stop here might lead to a much longer, more involved relationship that includes many blissful days of play on the frothing, roiling, rambling Rogue River, all-consuming wine-tasting tours, wildflowers, romantic picnics and if you’re not watching carefully, you just could succumb to the town’s cultural charms. Before you know it you’ll be rattling on about Hellgate and Siskiyou like you’re a native. Speaking of natives, Grants Pass is home to a permanent population of around 35,000 and continues to grow apace, fueled in part by the availability of outdoor adventures, its prime location next to the aforementioned Rogue River and its proximity to the major north-south thoroughfare, Interstate 5 (I-5).
There are more than a dozen wineries in the general region and to match the opportunities for boutique tippling there’s also been in recent years a surge in cultural offerings, particularly during summer months. Look for a steady succession of festivals, fairs, and free concerts from May to September as well as an independent film festival in October and First Friday Art Nights monthly. Lest those keen on more nature-oriented pursuits feel neglected, it must be duly noted that there is, within easy driving distance, a very extensive selection of recreational activities to choose from, including (but not limited to) hiking, biking, horseback riding, rafting, paddling, fishing, swimming, floating, spelunking, camping and even, if you’re so inclined, golfing. Of course it’s navigating a stretch of the Rogue River that is often the wayward traveler’s first focus, and depending on your desire (or lack of one) for a good adrenaline rush there are a variety of ways to make your way down river. White water rafting is the traditional option, but there are also jet-boat tours on offer and plenty of places for experienced kayakers or canoers to wet their paddles.
Grants Pass is 70 miles south of Roseburg on I-5 and 31 miles northwest of Medford. US-199 cuts across the southeast corner of the city and circles southwest to Oregon Caves National Monument.