If like me, you relish the unexplained, then set your sights on the delightful city of Gold Hill and the mysterious Oregon Vortex. This circle of puzzling phenomena has been welcoming its tourists for more than 80 years. The area dates back to the time of the Native Americans who referred to it as “the forbidden ground” and whose horses refused to enter.
It is an amazing attraction where the improbable is a fact of life and the laws of physics are re-written. It’s a place where brooms stand on end and tennis balls defy gravity.
A visit to the House of Mystery is a great way to begin. Built in 1904, it was formerly an assay office. Now, with oddly slanted walls and floor, it continues to baffle tourists. The Vortex, with its apparent ability to cause dramatic height changes, also enables you to stand at strange acute angles without falling over. A rather unnerving and unusual experience.
There have been many theories as to what causes the unusual phenomenon. These have ranged from the site’s position on a convergence of ley lines, to gravitational anomalies. Naturally there have been sceptics who have written the Oregon Vortex off as a pure optical illusion, gravity hill or even a case of forced perspective.
Close by is Gold Hill, on the Rogue River. It’s a city of unique character and experiences of its own. Just north is the Del Rio Vineyards and Winery. It’s one of the largest vineyards in southern Oregon with over 200,000 vines. A family run business since 1997, they offer a superb variety of wines for all tastes.
Keen cyclists will enjoy Gold Hill’s Bike Loop while fishing enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice. The city has a number of parks and recreation areas ideal for families and for those with some surplus energy, the scenic River Loop Trail is ideal. Ti’lomihk Falls is the place to go for the thrills and spills of kayaking, particularly Mugger’s Alley.
The Lazy Acres Motel offers the flexibility of elegant hotel rooms with private balcony or parking space and amenities for RVs. It’s close to where the action is, and also has a private beach and picnic area: www.lazyacresmotelandrvpark.com has more details.
The Rogue River Guest House, near Grants Pass, is a warm and friendly B&B minutes from the famous Rogue River. This pet friendly guest house offers spacious and relaxing rooms and ample amenities. For golf enthusiasts there are seven, 18-hole courses nearby open all year. To set you up for the day, the guest house offers a full breakfast and evening meals can be arranged.
The city of Grants Pass is the place to visit if blazing trails and whitewater thrills are more your taste. A trip down the Rogue River with Jetboat Excursions is a guaranteed adrenalin rush. Hellgate Canyon will set your pulse racing. Eat at the exclusive OK Corral, accessible by jetboat only. The whole experience is unforgettable.
At the end of May, on Memorial Day weekend, Grants Pass is host to the annual Boatnik Festival. Held over four days, the event’s highlights include fireworks and the hydroboat race. Riverside Park and Downtown is the venue for all manner of family festivities, and all funds raised from the event support local youth and community programs. It’s a world-famous event and supported by thousands: www.boatnik.com has more details.
The historic Downtown district is also a shopper’s paradise. Around 400 quite unique stores – including antique shops – offer service “the way it used to be”. Dining out in Grants Pass guarantees you’ll be well fed. From coffee shops to high class restaurants and cafés, the food is first class, the service excellent.
Hiking around the Rogue River always provides stunning views and gorgeous scenery. The 100- year-old Rogue River Trail has the added advantage of mobile support three times daily. This gives hikers a chance to replenish supplies, have a sit-down lunch and get tips for the rest of their hike. Evenings are spent in historic lodges with all amenities and comfortable beds. These supported hikes – over more than four days – run in May, June, September and October and start 30 miles west of Grants Pass.
Whether the Oregon Vortex is considered fact or fantasy, the area has been pulling in the tourists since 1930. It’s only 165 feet in diameter, but it packs a lot of mystery into this small area. As the tour guides state, you don’t just stumble across this famous road-side attraction, you know it’s there already. Why not come and join the curious throng and see what it’s like to defy gravity and lean uphill. The Vortex is open seven days a week, from March 1st to end of October.