The banner across the main thoroughfare in town proudly proclaims: “It’s the Climate.” But while the 30-inches-per-year precipitation average and 52°F yearly mean temperature might seem desirable, the true allure of Grants Pass is the mighty Rogue River, which flows through the heart of this community.
More than 25 outfitters in Grants Pass and the surrounding villages of Rogue River and Merlin specialize in fishing, rafting, and jet-boat trips. Numerous riverside lodges, accessible by car, river, or footpath, yield remote relaxation in the shadow of the nearby Klamath-Siskiyou Wilderness.
The city itself is similarly attractive: It has a number of good restaurants, an active downtown area, and a large and dynamic farmers market (4th St. and F St., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat. mid-Mar.–Thanksgiving).
It’s hard to miss the 18-foot-high statue near the north Grants Pass Exit (Exit 58) off I-5. Sporting a simulated mammoth skin and a dinosaur-bone club and looking like he just strode in off the set of The Flintstones, the Caveman has been the official welcome to Grants Pass since 1972.
Spawned by a seminotorious local civic group called the Oregon Cavemen, who also parade around in skins, drink saber-toothed tiger “blood,” and eat raw meat during their secret initiation rites, the Caveman cost $18,000 to build.
While many locals have lambasted the city’s mascot as portraying a backward redneck image for Grants Pass, it’s worth noting that over a dozen businesses and the local high school have proudly embraced the Caveman symbol.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel