Rafters are likely to get good and wet going through Nugget Falls on the Rogue River. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Riding the wild Rogue River

Rafting and boating options abound on the Rogue River, from leisurely floats to white-knuckle whitewater adventures.

On the upper Rogue, the town of Shady Cove is a top destination for rafters with their own gear or those who want to rent a raft or inflatable kayak for the day.

Rental companies typically shuttle customers upstream to just below a fish hatchery near Lost Creek Dam to a put-in point on the river. About three hours later, customers arrive back at Shady Cove.

"We always say it's a scenic, self-guided float trip. There are places to stop and go swimming," said David Bowman, owner of Raft the Rogue Raft Rentals in Shady Cove.

The family-friendly float trip has Class I and II rapids, meaning rafters will encounter fast-moving water with riffles up to medium, easily maneuverable rapids. But it's still a big river and floaters are advised to stay alert.

Generally, it's best to pick the channel with the most water when passing an island in the river. Avoid overhanging branches and trees along the banks, and look ahead to pick the best route downstream.

July and August weekends are the busiest, so plan ahead.

"If people want to go then, they need reservations," Bowman said. "Those are the weekends that are always sold out by everyone."

One-person inflatable kayaks rent for $30 on weekdays and $35 on weekends. Two-person kayaks cost $35 on weekdays and $39 on weekends. Shady Cove charges a $3 city tax per raft or kayak.

A small raft seating two to four adults rents for $55, with prices and raft sizes topping out at $120 for a seven- to 12-person raft at Raft the Rogue Raft Rentals. Prices include paddles and life jackets. Everyone is required to wear a life jacket.

Visit www.rafttherogue.com or call 541-878-3623.

On the middle Rogue, Ashland-based Noah's River Adventures offers a half-day Intro to Whitewater trips with a guide, raft and shuttle for $79 to $89 per person.

Customers float a 5.5-mile section of the river that ends in Gold Hill, said Hugh Hague, co-owner of the company with Bart Baldwin.

The outing begins with Class I and II rapids, progresses to Class III rapids and ends with a bang on two Class IV rapids, said Hague.

"It's a natural progression for our guests," he said.

Class IV rapids have large, powerful waves and require precise boat-handling skills, at which point the guide comes in handy.

Other Noah's River Adventures options include a full-day trip in inflatable kayaks in the morning followed by rapid-filled rafting in the afternoon or a leisurely float along a gentle section of the Rogue.

"It's an introductory-style raft trip for a mellow, scenic experience," Hague said.

The company also takes customers down the lower Rogue, including the Wild and Scenic section below Grave Creek, where guide companies or rafters on their own need Bureau of Land Management permits.

Boaters should travel with an experienced rafter or guide below Grave Creek. Just a few miles downstream is Class V Rainie Falls, a dangerous, powerful chute that is usually bypassed through a narrow, tricky side channel studded with boulders. Most guides require customers to get out of the raft and walk past Rainie Falls while they navigate the raft through the side channel.

Noah's River Adventures is one of the local companies providing multiday rafting trips along remote sections of the Rogue, with overnight camping or stays in rustic lodges. Costs range from $875 to $1,025 per adult.

Communities along the Rogue, including Grants Pass, Merlin and Galice, are filled with boating and rafting companies.

Powerful Hellgate Jetboat Excursions boats that carry dozens of people each ply the waters from Grants Pass downstream to Grave Creek.

The trips are not only exciting, the jetboat pilots narrate the trip, talking about the history of the Rogue and pointing out wildlife along the way, said Travis Hamlyn, general manager for the company.

"You start in Grants Pass and see homes and buildings. Then all that disappears and you see wildlife in a natural setting and Hellgate Canyon," he said.

Options range from the two-hour Quick and Scenic trip from Grants Pass to the rugged Hellgate Canyon for $43 for an adult on weekends, to the five-hour Whitewater trip from Grants Pass to Grave Creek for $69 per adult on weekends, to combination brunch, lunch or dinner rides starting at $55 for adults.

Call 1-800-648-4874 or visit www.hellgate.com.

Merlin-based Rogue Wilderness Adventures is among the Merlin and Galice companies offering guided trips or raft rentals, with everything from traditional guided rafting trips to raft-supported hiking trips to rentals to vehicle shuttle services.

Floating tubes cost $15 each day, inflatable kayaks start at $35 per day and raft prices start at $65 per day. Rentals include equipment such as paddles and life jackets. Half-day guided trips start at $70 per adult, while multi-day float trips with overnight stays at lodges top $1,000.

Call 1-800-336-1647 or see www.wildrogue.com.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.








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