One Year in the Rogue Valley - Page 4
Our recommendations of fascinating places to see in southern Oregon
We spent July through December in the Gold N Hill KOA park in Gold Hill, population 1,000. This rural setting was very enjoyable because we love to walk, jog, and see the river.
Inflatable kayaks, called "Tahitis", are put it near the main bridge leading into Gold Hill.
From our slot in the campsite, the following were within walking distance: the Rogue River at 0.5 miles, downtown Gold Hill about 1 mile, and Ray's grocery store about 1.2 miles.
Gold Hill is a very small town and lacks major retail outlets, except for Ray's grocery store. Other shopping consists of a convenience store, a gas station without diesel, four local restaurants, a pharmacy, two bars, a hardware store, a single-chair barber shop, a beauty shop, a dog groomer, public library, and the U. S. Post Office.
The Tahiti Hut kayak rental opens in the summer on the eastern bank of the Rogue River, just down-stream from the main bridge leading into town. For $25 per inflatable kayak (which they call a Tahiti) you can float this gentle section of the Rogue over class one and two rapids. The float ends in the Valley of the Rogue State Park, from where transportation back to Gold Hill is by van. If you enjoy frigid water against your skin, consider renting a sand bag. Sand bags are large mesh bags filled with packing peanuts, on which a person floats down the river with the aid of kayak oars.
Our favorite walking and jogging route was the Upper River Road along the east bank of the river, starting at Blackwell Road, which is also highway 99. The road runs paved for about two and a half miles north of 99. It has no sidewalk, but we found the shoulder facing traffic acceptable, with only a few vehicles passing by in the evenings.
Delicious blackberries along the Upper River Road in Gold Hill.
To see sights that most tourists miss, take this same Upper River Road about a mile and a half north from 99 to the wide gravel shoulder on the west side of the road, next to the river. Park your vehicle and get out for a nice view of class three and four rapids. In the summer, rafters will be running these rapids and passing within a few yards from the river banks, so have your camera ready. At this same location between July and late September are large quantities of ripe blackberries—delicious fresh or baked in cobbler.
If you don't mind a bumpy, and sometimes very narrow road, continue on Upper River Road further as it turns into a dirt road. At some point this road becomes Gold Ray Road, but there are no signs indicating this until you come out the other end. The road veers away from the river and leads through a hilly area for a couple of miles, then swings back to follow the river. When the river becomes visible once more, find a wide spot along the road to park your car for a picnic along the river.
A dam on the Rogue River near Gold Hill.
After the picnic, continue further on this dirt road. Soon the road narrows to the width of a single lane. On busy summer days, vehicles may be approaching from the other direction, forcing one of you to pull over while the other passes. By this time the dam should be visible. At the dam the road is paved once more and the shoulder has several wide spots to park. In the fall, when the salmon are running upstream, find a nice rock to sit on and watch the salmon ladder on the other side of the dam for jumping fish. Many salmon first attempt to jump the dam directly. If you are surefooted, crawl down the large boulders to the edge of the water in front of the dam for a close-up look of tired salmon, trying to figure out how to overcome this obstacle. A note of caution: Some of the large rocks near the edge are wet from the spray and can be very slippery. I know this because I slipped and came to rest sitting waste deep in the river.