The Southern Oregon sun was just starting to set as we made our way onto the lawn stretching from to the blue-green waters of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. It was “magic hour” at Morrison’s Lodge — right before dusk — when the light created the perfect setting for unwinding in a patio chair, glass of Oregon pinot in hand.
Morrison’s has two companies that operate as one: Morrison’s Rogue Wilderness Lodge and Morrison’s Rogue Wilderness Adventures. Together, they make for a one-of-a-kind adventure getaway located in the tiny community of Galice, 16 miles downstream of Grants Pass on the banks of the Rogue and far from anything else. The lodge celebrates its 72nd anniversary in 2018 and remains the only lodge on this section of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River to host rafting trips. Even if you can’t spend the night in one of the cozy cabins or lodge rooms here, you’ll want to stay as long as you can to relax and soak up the vibe. Here’s how to enjoy this rugged and remote riverfront stretch of Oregon on a carefree trip with Morrison’s Rogue Wilderness Adventures & Lodge.
The Wild and Scenic Rogue River is one of the most celebrated spots in the world to fish for steelhead and salmon. Morrison’s Rogue Wilderness Adventures, in conjunction with the lodge, offers two main types of fishing trips: fly fishing and conventional-style fishing. And you don’t need to be a fishing pro to join a trip. Novices are welcome, and due to the expertise of Morrison’s guides, I recommend booking a fishing trip (offered Aug. 15 through Nov. 10) rather than trying your luck on your own. Some guests opt to fish for a single day, but if a multi-day trip intrigues and you’re torn between spending your vacation fishing or rafting, do both! Morrison’s multi-day, lodge-to-lodge fishing trips let you stay at the aforementioned scenic lodges on the river, while fishing as you go. Fishing guests, like rafting guests, stay at two of the three lodges en route; which ones depend on the day and the schedule.
Families who want to make Morrison’s Lodge a home base for multiple river activities amid some down days chilling in the sunshine should book one of their daylong rafting trips on the recreation section of the river. These six-hour trips start and end at their warehouse in Merlin (with shuttles from the lodge, if you’re staying on site), include a full barbecue lunch and restroom facilities at the lodge. From the water, you can spy the first osprey and bald eagles hunting on the surface of the Rogue in the early morning, and marvel at the rocky, forested canyon walls and world-class fishing habitat.
If you’re coming to Southern Oregon with a serious mission to raft, a multi-day trip on the 40-mile Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue will scratch that itch — a chance to be completely unplugged from the outside world for three to five glorious days. Rafting trip logistics can be complicated, but with these inclusive trips, all you need to do is float up to your nightly lodge on the banks of the Rogue (or your sandy campsite on tent-only trips). Morrison’s excursions include lodging as well as meals, equipment, guides, shuttles and peace of mind.
Alongside the mighty river, the Rogue River National Recreation Trail beckons nearby, tracing the 40 miles of the Wild and Scenic section. Originally built for pack mules supplying miners in the Rogue River canyon, the Rogue River Trail is more than a century old and can be challenging, with little shade, in the heat of summer. However, you can find respite in the private, historic lodges that dot the trail, including the rustic Black Bar Lodge, pet-friendly Paradise Lodge and the 1960s-era Marial Lodge. Each of these off-the-grid sites are accessible only by foot or boat, include meals with each nightly stay, and are far outside the reach of a cellular connection.
For those who truly want to cover much of the trail, Morrison’s four-day lodge-to-lodge hiking trip may be the perfect solution. Meals and overnight stays at three different lodges are provided, as well as support for your gear by raft, so there’s no need to carry more than a day pack. Should you choose to do the hike as an unsupported backpacker without a guide, remember that you’ll need a car at each end. Morrison’s provides shuttles to and from the river on the 4-day lodge-to-lodge raft-supported hiking trips, and can also assist hikers on their own.
There’s nothing like good food to replenish the soul, and Morrison’s Lodge doesn’t disappoint with its four-course dinner option. Like other farm-to-table venues, the menu here changes nightly to accommodate for the local produce, grown on site by Morrison’s master gardener. Before dinner, enjoy a craft cocktail at the bar in the lodge’s cozy great room. This space is equally perfect for those occasional rainy afternoons when you’re taking a break from the rest of the action on site: There’s a seasonal heated outdoor pool as well as basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, frisbee golf and bicycles for use at the lodge. In the morning, wake up to a hot breakfast buffet and enjoy on the patio outside or inside, with views of the roaring river. If you really can’t bear the thought of leaving, you can add a night on to either end of your trip at booking. Trust us, you’ll want to.
When you go: Morrison’s is open May through October. While in the area, plan a day or weekend trip touring brewpubs and hiking the Rogue River in Grants Pass; sipping Applegate Valley wines and shopping in historic Jacksonville; or exploring waterfalls, lakes and U-pick farms in Medford.