Grants Pass is the West’s ultimate river town. The Rogue River is calm and clear as it flows past the heart of town. A few miles upstream, several small dams have created scenic lakes. Downstream, the river dashes wildly down breathtaking gorges and meanders through forested vales. Noted for one of the mildest climates in the Northwest, Grants Pass is further enhanced by the variety of broadleaf and pine trees and flowers including thriving rhododendrons and azaleas–as well as some of the continent’s most northerly inland palm trees.
Tortuous mountain passes and unfriendly Indians discouraged early pioneers from coming to this area until the 1840s. Following the discovery of gold in nearby Jacksonville in 1851, and the last major Indian battle in 1854, homesteaders began to move here drawn by the area’s fertile soil and mild climate. A diversified economy of lumber milling, dairying, and farming has continued to support the population to this day.
While traditional industries are still important, residents’ pride in their river is the town’s binding force today. Sharing the Rogue with visitors is becoming the major industry. Guide and rental services now offer jet boats, inflatable kayaks and sailboards, plus old favorites like fishing boats and whitewater rafts. One of the West’s finest riverside parks is near an unpretentious downtown with a notable historic district. Many restaurants and lodgings serve crowds enjoying the peerless river and pleasant four-season climate. Continuing improvements to downtown’s riverfront area will sustain the town’s ascendancy.
For more information, go to Grants Pass/Josephine County Chamber of Commerce.
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