We discovered the Rogue River, legendary for its fishing and whitewater rafting, is accessible to anyone who wants to wander into Southern Oregon’s backcountry and get a good look for themselves. And, there was plenty to see.
Our ride started at Indian Mary Park, a camping and day use spot on Galice Road west of Merlin. This Josephine County park, nestled against the river, provided a perfect starting point for our ride. The five of us set out for what would prove to be a lumpy 26-mile ride north and east to Wolf Creek. The 215-mile river, which starts near Crater Lake, twists its way across the region until its eventually flows into the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach.
Our stretch of the river is popular with fishermen and rafters and we could see them on the water below as we frequently stopped for pictures. At one point, we even exchanged waves with passengers aboard a Hellgate jetboats.
Traffic progressively became lighter as we made our way along Galice Road to the Grave Creek Bridge. The river flows past the bridge and bends west where the official “wild and scenic” segment begins. The bridge and adjacent boat ramp made a good turn-around point for vehicles, but we pedaled east on Lower Graves Creek Road where we had the tarmac to ourselves. That was the good news.
The bad? The steepest climbing started beyond the bridge. By the time we reached the 19-mile mark, however, most of the hard work was behind us. The turn-around target, the tiny town of Wolf Creek, was only seven miles ahead.
Wolf Creek is known for its historic Wolf Creek Inn and Tavern, a good place to refuel or stay overnight. This is a state heritage site with the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places. The inn was closed in recent years but reopened in April 2018.
The ride back was easy and fast, thanks to a predominantly downhill profile. By mile 48, we rolled up on the Galice Resort, a perfect place to get off the bike, enjoy lunch and stare across the Rogue one more time. Enjoying a second glass of lemonade, we wondered whether this would have made a better starting point. The Galice Resort
a family-owned riverside restaurant, rafting center and lodge, seemed the perfect place to end the day.
Still, there were four miles to go and thankfully those miles quickly passed thanks to a consistent downhill grade.
Throughout the day, it was evident a raft or fishing pole was not required to enjoy this famous river’s beauty. Whether you ride on a jetboat, in a car or atop a bicycle, Galice Road opens the panorama of the Rogue River gorge to you.