These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

Add to My Oregon Road Trip

Just about any place you find on can be added to your own Oregon Roadtrippers Account. Find out how.

Get on the road with Roadtrippers

Roadtrippers Logo

We’ve partnered with Roadtrippers to provide a great way to plan a trip around Oregon. So start planning your next road trip to here, there or pretty much anywhere in Oregon.

Whether or not you pan for gold, you’ll strike it rich on this 45-mile/72-kilometer scenic canyon drive through western Oregon’s historic mining country.


Your tour begins 21 miles/33.7 kilometers south of Roseburg at I-5’s exit 103, the only place to fuel up along the route. Follow Riddle Bypass Road toward Riddle, where the arrival of the railroad spurred on the area’s mining operations. You can still see remnants of the town’s nickel mine and mine tailings as you drive past lumber mills, ranches and farms.

Before leaving Riddle, you might want to pick up a gold pan — a shallow, flat-bottomed metal pan (3 inches deep or so) with flaring sides. Some of the local hardware stores carry them.

Riddle to West Fork

The route parallels Cow Creek and the route of the original Oregon and California railroad built in the 1870s. Many historic railroad structures still stand, such as Tunnel Number One.

Past the tunnel, visitors will find the public Recreational Gold Panning Area in Cow Creek. Gold originates in veins in the mountains, then washes into creeks in spring rains. Geologists estimate that gold-rush miners found only about 25 percent of Oregon’s take. This area also includes private mining claims, so it’s important to know before you go. Contact the Roseburg District Bureau of Land Management for details about recreational gold panning.

West Fork to Glendale

Even if you don’t pan for gold, you can profit from the scenery as you continue this tour route through fir forest and under ragged buttes and mountains. Waterfalls and wildflowers put on a show in spring, while autumn turns the hardwoods fiery gold and red.

Continue along Cow Creek Road to Glendale, where volunteers are restoring the lovely 1901 Springer Martin House. The tour route ends just a couple of miles beyond town, where you can rejoin I-5 at exit 80.

related Trip Ideas

  1. Gold Panning in Oregon

    an Oregon Story by Eileen Garvin on July 7th, 2015

    It was 1851 when prospectors first found gold in Southern Oregon and Gold Rush fever swept through the state. Big, shiny nuggets first turned up in and around Josephine Creek and on the Illinois, Applegate and Rogue rivers, including near the town…

  2. Road Trip: Roseburg

    an Oregon Story by Eileen Garvin on October 29th, 2012

    Settled in the 1850s and proud to hold some of the early roots of Oregon winemaking, Roseburg’s 21,000 residents give the town a not-too-big, not-too-small, friendly feel. Visit Roseburg for a trip through history and wine country. History…

  3. Road Trip: Grants Pass

    an Oregon Story by Eileen Garvin on May 26th, 2014

    The history of Grants Pass reads like a classic chapter of the American West. The railroad, the gold rush and the lumber boom all shaped the town. Today, this hamlet in Southern Oregon is colored by the wild flavor of the Rogue River, which bisects…

  4. 5 Waterfall and Wildflower Hikes

    an Oregon Story by Danielle Centoni on February 26th, 2016

    When winter’s chill takes a hike, leaving carpets of flowers and swollen streams in its wake, that’s your cue to take a hike, too, and soak in all that springtime beauty. Thankfully Oregon offers plenty of trails that meander through sunny…

  5. Beyond Wine in the Willamette Valley

    an Oregon Story by Eileen Garvin on April 16th, 2014

    Readyfor agetaway to the Willamette Valley? Plan your trip We’re wild about wine in the Willamette Valley, but this fertile region has even more to offer than the 300-plus wineries within its boundaries. Beer, mead,…

  6. Hike and Raft in Southern Oregon

    an Itinerary by Emily Forsha on May 1st, 2013

    Can’t decide between riding the rapids or trekking around the deepest lake in America? Come to Southern Oregon and you can do both. On this itinerary, you’ll hike the rim of incredible Crater Lake and discover that a lake really can be that blue…

  7. Jennifer’s Southern Oregon Trek

    an Itinerary by Mo Sherifdeen on October 13th, 2006

    Happy Friday! Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Have no fear…we’ve got another fabulous trip idea lined up for you. Our very own Jennifer (she works in the Tourism Development Dept.) recently headed off to Grants Pass in…

  8. Cycling the Willamette Valley

    an Itinerary by Lucy Burningham on May 1st, 2010

    Last year I learned there’s no better way to get to know a place than to ride through it on a bicycle. So when I heard about the 134-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, the first of its kind in the U.S., I jumped at the chance to turn the…

Flag as Incorrect

Is any of the information on this page incorrect?

Cow Creek

Drive safely.

Keep in mind many of the routes listed here travel through remote areas where gas stations are few and far between. And since road and weather conditions can be hazardous, even into summer, we urge you to call 800-977-6368 or check Trip Check before starting out.

Share your thoughts Comments

Have something to say? Your Comment

  1. eugene smith says…

    hello, thank you for this service. I need to know if I can dredge for gold in this creek. thanks.eugene

    Written on March 2nd, 2015 / Flag this Comment
Win a Pendleton Blanket


Subscribe to the Travel Oregon email newsletter and be entered to win a commemorative Crater Lake Pendleton Blanket.

Click here for terms and conditions.

You're almost there!
Click the link in the email we just sent you to confirm your subscription.

Hmm, something went wrong, please try later.