Merlin Rest Area (AKA Manzanita Rest Area)

Home » Birding Locations » Josephine County » Grants Pass Area




I-5 Exits Southbound – 42.517582, -123.365936 Northbound – 42.517930, -123.363163 

This is a very famous area that many use to get their annual Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, California Towhee, and Oak Titmouse exposures. It’s right off the freeway and offers relatively easy access. The Merlin Rest Area is located off I-5 about 1.5 miles north of exit 61 just about 5 miles north of Grants Pass. Accessing the west side rest area from the north (southbound lane) is pretty straightforward. Just take the exit and follow the signs to the rest area. The east side of the freeway offers better birding but there is no way across from the west. You will have to re-enter I5, go down to exit 61, and come back north to access the rest area on the east side. Walk this whole area birding the trees and bushes.

Habitat and Birds

Besides the “Big 3” mentioned earlier, other species present might include Lesser Goldfinch, Acorn Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick’s Wren, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Lazuli Bunting. More than 125 species have been seen at this location.