Grants Pass, located in Southern Oregon. offers warm summer days, a picturesque historic downtown and plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. The ultimate way to experience Grants Pass is cruising down the famous Rogue River. The river winds through the old downtown area and offers water sports like floating down in inner tubes, kayaking , river rafting and the high speed option of Hellgate Boat Tours.
One of the most convenient places to stay in town, especially if you are planning a Hellgate boat ride is the Lodge at Riverside. The hotel is located on the Rogue River and situated directly above the launch location for the jet boats. The lodge offers rustic charm, a great pool and most rooms have panoramic riverfront views. Serving wine-and-cheese every afternoon and cookies-and-milk in the evening are two added features that make a stay here easy and fun.
Before heading off on your morning boat trip, start your day with a hearty and complimentary breakfast at the lodge. While the hotel is located above the launch spot for the boat rides, the check in for the Hellgate boat tour is a short walk to 7th Street. Choose between a three hour, 36-mile lunch excursion, a "Quick and Scenic" two hour excursion or the five hour, 75-mile round-trip from Grants Pass to Grave Creek that includes a stop for a meal. With your boat tickets in hand head to the river and board the jet boat.
Rides are fun, informative and wet. The jet boat drivers offer great information about the river and while there are periods of slow cruising the real excitement comes at high speeds and during their famous spins that generally soak one side of the boat depending on how they end the turn. If you want all the fun, but don’t enjoy a good drenching choose a middle seat or wear a light rain jacket with a hood for protection. On a nice hot day, embrace the ride-enjoy the water and laugh. There is something exhilarating and funny each and every time your Hellgate Boat Captain chooses to spin and soak.
Besides the high speed thrills of racing down the Rogue, a highlight of this trip is to check out the scenic river as the boat travels through the spectacular beauty of Hells Gate Canyon– a magnificent area where rock formations head majestically skyward.
Along the way you are likely to see any combination of the following wildlife such as deer, osprey, bald eagles, river otters and even black bears.
After the boat ride, walk the short distance back to the Lodge at Riverside for some more fun in the sun. Change into your bathing suit and head to the pool. Here it will be your choice if and when you get wet. Watch the afternoon Hellgate boats take off or just enjoy the beauty of the river view.
For dinner, if you want to keep it low key and local, head across the street to the Taprock Northwest Grill. Located on the Rogue River with both indoor and patio seating the restaurant focuses on Northwest style cuisine and products from regional businesses. It’s a great spot for both adults wanting beautiful views and families who want a casual atmosphere and well rounded menu. [img_assist|nid=1059|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=188]
For something out of the ordinary and a real culinary treat head to Summer Jo’s.Located on Upper River Road, just a few miles from town this restaurant is a unique experience. The property includes a farm where they grow much of their produce, a greenhouse selling everything from fresh picked and dried lavender to antique wheelbarrows. But the real draw is the restaurant. It feels as though you’ve stepped into a countryside restaurant in the Loire Valley of France. They offer intimate seating indoors as well as on the spacious lawn where you may feel as though you are part of a lovely dinner party.
While the atmosphere both in and out is wonderful, equally so is the menu. Served at an unhurried pace this is food to be savored. We happened to visit on a Friday and to our delight we learned about "Frugal Fridays", a three-course meal offered for $25 that included a house salad or soup of the day, a main entrée which was braised short ribs with a horseradish cream sauce and two choices for dessert. The flavors were wonderful and portions just right. The menu does change every few weeks, but I venture to guess it may be hard to go wrong at Summer Jo’s.
After a day on the Rogue River, a bit of sunning by the pool and a relaxing dinner it is welcoming to think of a peaceful night sleep in this Southern Oregon river town.
What & Where
Rogue River Hellgate (966 SW 6th St; 541-956-5260 or 800-648-4874; www.hellgate.com)
Taprock Northwest Grill (971 SE 6th St; 541-955-5998)
Summer Jo’s (2315 Upper River Road Loop; 541-476-6882)
The Lodge at Riverside (955 SE 7th St; 541-955-0600 or 877-955-0600; www.countryhouseinns.com)