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River rafting in Oregon – so beautiful! Part one is today; we’ll have part two in the morning tomorrow. ~WaterGirl
I liked submitting my pictures from a Green River rafting trip, so I went back to the well and found pictures from our first family rafting trip. This one was a 5 day trip on the Rogue River in the south western corner of Oregon (the nearest town of any size is Grants Pass). This is the river where I worked the last couple seasons I did guiding. This particular trip was rather small, three gear boats, three inflatable kayaks and no more than 12 passengers. It was also a bit rainy for the first few days of the trip.
The Rogue River was in the first group of rivers to be designated Wild and Scenic back in the 60s. This means that there can be no development (or hunting) within a (I believe) a half-mile of the high water mark of the river within the Wild and Scenic section. There are a couple lodges that were there before the designation, so they got grandfathered in. The Wild and Scenic section is bounded by two Class IV rapids that are impassable to motor boats: Rainy Falls and Blossom Bar. Above Rainy and below Blossom jet boats are allowed, including giant ones that hold 50 people can can planing along in 18″ of water.
This is a typical view of the river. If you remember the pictures from the Green River trip, this river is much smaller and in a tighter canyon. But it’s also a lot greener and there is more visible wildlife.
These are all the gear boats (and the Trip Leader (or as we called the job in the unenlightened olden days the Head Boatman)). This was probably shot when we pulled over for lunch since she is digging around in a cooler, but none of the gear has been unloaded from the boats.
This is a shot looking downstream from our lunch spot. This river canyon is carved out of volcanic rock, unlike the desert rivers in Utah and Arizona that have cut down through uplifted sedimentary rocks.
Here’s some river running lingo for you: on a river trip the right and left side of the river are always determined by looking downstream. So this shot is taken river left and it still would be river left even if I turned 180 and looked upstream. This makes talking about what’s happening on the river easier (“Just around the turn there’s a rock on river right, don’t hit it.”)
One more shot from lunch time on Day 1. And we have some wildlife! A Great Blue Heron looking for its lunch.
A couple hours after lunch on Day 1 you get to the first Class IV rapid of the trip, Rainy Falls. The drop is around 14 feet. The main part of the falls in the foreground is most definitely not the desired run. It’s hard to see but there is narrow slot to the right just big enough for a raft to squeeze through. Messing up the approach to that slot can cause one to go over the main part of the falls. I only went over the main falls once. It was a bit more exciting than I wanted it to be.
Here’s a video from that day showing a couple boats running the falls. The red boat is some foolish private boater saved from flipping by the fact that his boat is very light. After that doofus we see one of the boats on our trip take the middle run. In the ancient times we used to take passengers over the falls with us, but in these modern times it is deemed too risky and now the passengers walk around (except for the people in the inflatable kayaks who take narrow run way over on the right side).
Another river lingo digression: river flow is measured in cubic feet per second (CFS). Typical summer flow on the Rogue is about 2,000 to 2,500 CFS while the Green is usually somewhere around 10,000 CFS, so as I said the Rogue is a much smaller river.
This a shot looking downstream from Rainy Falls. The boat in the picture is the Trip Leader’s. She has made the run and is now pulled over waiting for the other boats and acting as safety. If somebody flips or gets ejected from a boat she’ll row out and catch them.
More wildlife! I don’t know where mom is, but that’s a baby black bear on the other side of the river from where we made camp on Day 1. Sharp-eyed viewers will also notice a Canada goose.
Finally a picture from later in the trip. This is a shot of camp on the morning of Day 3. The rain-fly over the living room was necessary as it was still quite rainy. I especially liked camping at this spot since it’s a site I remember camping at back when I was working in the 80s.
The no hunting rule is almost certainly a mistake. If their population isn’t controlled, deer will destroy their habitat.
Looks like a fun run!
Another item on my bucket list that is unlikely to be fulfilled. Maybe in my next life. Looks like a blast.
@Pete Mack: Deer over-populate when their natural predators are removed.
I lived in the Rogue valley for 15 years and in summer it was the hottest area in the entire West. I think the river was a conduit for Santa Ana winds.
Thanks for these. I worked on the Rogue a few times in the early 90s (I mostly have guided in West by gawd Virginia), and I got the chance to run parts of the Green last summer, including the Gates of Ladore. Your photos are beautiful, and perhaps caused me to indulge in a bit of whitewater porn before breakfast…
Beautiful pictures. I saw my first osprey from the Rogue River. Now I live in FL where they’re almost as common as crows.
Sweet pictures! And thank you for the language lesson.
The no hunting area is really quite narrow along river corridor. So the deer aren’t that safe. There are also mountain lions around (I once saw a pile of scat (or maybe it was a hairball) that was mostly deer hair little hooves).
@Mortimer – We did another trip on the Rogue a few years ago that had a couple trainees from West Virginia. They were really intrigued by the idea of a rafting trip that lasted longer than a few hours.
Watergirl, once more reading my text in real life is the best way to find my screw ups. If you could change “50 people can can planing ” to “50 people can be planing ” and “a (I believe) a half-mile” to “(I believe) a half-mile”, I would be most thankful.
Hah – I was too – my first boss told me that my whitewater skills were stellar but that I had no idea how to camp. True statement: camping for us consisted of driving down to the river and sleeping in the back of our trucks…
Thanks again for the beautiful pictures!
Here’s my blog post on our Gates trip last summer…we ran Westwater before we met the main trip as well…
In 1984 my brother and I took a similar trip on the Rogue River. We drove from Milwaukee camping along the way to Grants Pass for the trip. Love seeing these pictures.
On the Rogue again
Just can’t wait to get on the Rogue again
The life I love is running rivers with my friends
and I can’t wait to get on the Rogue again
Big Oregon Trail 2 energy in this post… that private boater would have definitely been one of those that kept dying in that game XD
@JCJ – In the summer of 1980 we drove from LaCrosse, WI to Grants Pass to meet friends and go on a Rogue trip. The guides on the trip suggested I go to the company’s whitewater school and be a guide. After I did that my main guide goal was to get on the Rogue crew for my company. This was a bit difficult at the time since we only had one permit that allowed us to take 16 people down the river once a week, so the entire crew was 4 people.
Somewhere in my old negatives and slides I have pictures I took on a Grand Canyon trip back in ’83. This was, for those of you who read whitewater books, the summer of The Emerald Mile speed run of the canyon. The trip I did was after the peak flow, but it was still much higher than normal. I believe it peaked at 90,000 CFS and the trip I did was at around 40,000 CFS for most of the two weeks.
I’m going to search around for those slides and unlimber the slide scanner so I can do a time-travel On The Road.
I did this part of the Rogue with a local close friend the same year, but right before. Labor Day long weekend so it was just her, her lovely daughter, two guides and me. Such an interesting river! On our last day I was in a rubber ducky as something large speeded towards me, making quite the V wake. It was a seal! Over 10 miles from the ocean, and 10 miles from the nearest shark was probably why. The guides were floored; they’d never seen that before and both were seasoned hands and one grew up on the river via his parent’s raft guiding company. We saw some river otters too.
West of the Cascades
@Pete Mack: Need moar wolves.
Really enjoyed the pictures — thanks for all the background about rafting, too. I did a lot of hiking when I was younger and had good knees, but never took a river trip. This gave me a glimmer of what it might be like — a different angle on everything, and so much beautiful countryside to enjoy.
J R in WV
That will be swell — hope I’m able to catch that photo set!
Have been on the New River many times, canoes, rafts, hiking and camping. When we started that outdoors thing, it was so uncommon you could camp out for a week and see 12 people tops go by all week total.
Never dreamed it would get so crowded that permits would be needed to preserve the wild river feeling. Amazing that it became a major tourist industry around the rivers!
Good pictures that capture this jewel of a river. Thank you!Went first time in the early 80s, then 2 more times taking relatives. Always went through Morrison’s Lodge (B.A., for those who also used them), who owned the lodge at the beginning of the rapids ride and most guides were local. Stayed over at Black Bar and Mariel Lodges rather than camping, so also took walks and hikes in the area.
These trips were good for those of us with kids and older relatives, all together. In the following years, my husband rafted it 2-3 times with friends, opting to take the raft over Rainie Falls one time. And only one time.
Looking forward to more pictures.
@susanna: Every once in a while OARS used to do the full Lodge Trip and stay at Black Bar, Marial, and Paradise Lodges. The guides loved those trips since there was no camp setup and tear down and no need to cook dinner or breakfast. I never got to do one of those, but I did do a few trips where we stayed at Paradise the last night (insert “Tonight we sleep in Paradise!” joke here). That was glorious enough.
Paradise lodge is outside the Wild and Scenic section so gas engines are allowed, but it’s still not road accessible. So to get to get there you can hike, take a jet boat from down stream, float down through the Wild and Scenic section, or land your plane on their airstrip.