Jul 162014
A calm stretch on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River.

A calm stretch on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River.

Southern Oregon’s Rogue River has long been a favorite of whitewater rafting and kayaking enthusiasts, fishermen, hikers and wildlife lovers.

After a couple of inflatable raft trips running the 40-mile length of the Wild & Scenic designated portion of the river, and a short hike on a section of the Rogue River National Recreation Trail, I’ve become a huge fan myself and highly recommend the Rogue for anyone looking for adventure in a beautiful, unspoiled setting.

inflatable raft going through rapids on the Rogue River

Down the chute at Rainie Falls.

My most recent trip was with a bunch of guys celebrating a bachelor party for a very good friend. Three days of fun, games, thrills and spills. Most of these guys were experienced whitewater rafters and kayakers, and the group included several professional guides and EMT-trained firemen. Couldn’t ask for a better group to go with, and have confidence that I’d make it through the Rogue’s famous rapids.

inflatable raft coming out of whitewater rapids

Was that one fun, boys?

The scenery in this deep gorge cut by eons of river flow is incredibly beautiful. The Wild and Scenic stretch of the river, between Grave Creek and Foster Bar, runs through the Wild Rogue Wilderness. Miles of pristine forest and unusual rock formations unique to the ancient Siskiyou Mountains. Douglas fir and large, beautiful madrone trees sometimes cling to bare rock cliffs rising hundreds of feet above the river.

Rafts, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on a quiet stretch of the Rogue River.

Rafts, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on a quiet stretch of the river.

In between the gnarly rapids, calm sections of the river offer time for conversation, story telling, and in our bunch a good bit of joshing and revelry. Drifting through these areas is also great for wildlife viewing. We saw black bear, deer, bald eagles, mergansers, Canada geese, belted kingfishers and ouzels. Late on the first day, some good sized steelhead jumped and came down with a splash in a pool fronting our campsite.

Stand-up paddle boarding has become extremely popular wherever there is water, and we had great fun paddling and even surfing the smaller rapids with a couple of inflatable SUPs loaned to us by the good folks at Hala Gear.

Going down the Wild and Scenic part of the Rogue River is not for novice boaters. There are class IV and V rapids that are dangerous and can be challenging even for experienced rafters. If you want to give it a go, and I highly recommend it, book with a reputable company like O.A.R.S. or Ouzel Outfitters, where several of our group were former guides.

Have you done the Rogue? What was your experience?

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  2 Responses to “Rafting the Wild and Scenic Rogue River”

  1. I’m dying to raft on the Rogue! I have only driven by on my way up to Bend passed Grants Pass. One day I shall do it, but only where there are calmer rapids 🙂

    • I Hope you get to experience the Rogue soon, Susan. This river is known for its gnarly rapids, but there are also some calm sections that are wonderful for a leisurely float.

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