This story was originally posted on the Girls Who Get Around Travel Blog. Written by Dana Woodruff of Ashland, Oregon.
As a young kid, my family spent a lot of time each year on the river. We lived in La Grande, Oregon, and not far from our home were the Grande Ronde, Owyhee, Snake, and Lower Salmon rivers. Even after leaving home, river trips have continued to be an important part of my life and what I look forward to most when summer arrives. There are not too many things that remind me of summer quite like a river trip, camping along the river, or the subsequent “Chaco tans” that emerge after a week spent in a river canyon.
One of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the number of rivers that are easily accessible for rafters and kayakers. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many different river trips throughout the PNW and, in 2011, Will Volpert and I started Indigo Creek Outfitters, a whitewater rafting company that runs half-day trips on the Rogue River near Ashland, Oregon.
In starting our business, the first step was choosing a river to offer trips on. The Rogue River was an obvious choice because it’s a river we both enjoy, has fun whitewater, and gorgeous scenery. Part of the Rogue River is nationally protected as “Wild & Scenic” – in fact it was one of the eight original rivers with that designation – and that status means it will be protected for generations to come. That particular section is the best three or four-day river trip in Oregon and we run that a few times each year with Rogue River Journeys, an outfitter based out of Selma, Oregon.
Our business is based out of Ashland, Oregon, which is a town of about 20,000 that draws tourists between March and November for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There also happens to be a ton of outdoor recreation opportunities just outside of our city limits. Aside from the rafting, we have a small local ski mountain, mountain biking, and the Pacific Crest Trail, which barely skirts town. At first we thought that the mix of outdoorsy folks in a town known for its Shakespeare Festival was odd – and it is – but it’s something that actually works, and mixes well.
The section of the Rogue River that Indigo Creek Outfitters, (541-203-0222) runs is known as the “Nugget-Powerhouse” stretch and is named after the two largest rapids. For families or groups of mixed rafting experience, this stretch of river is absolutely perfect. It starts mellow and builds up slowly until the two grand finales: Nugget Falls and Powerhouse Rapid. Between the start and finish there are calm places to practice paddling and sitting in the raft, there are surf waves that are fun to play in, and there are class II and III rapids that keep things interesting. The trips are short, only about 5.5 miles, but are perfect for the average person visiting Ashland and looking for a quick thrill.
For those looking for a true adventure, Rogue River Journeys, (866-213-7754) offers three and four-day vacations down the dramatic “Wild & Scenic” stretch of the Rogue River. These trips are an absolute blast and a great introduction to multi-day rafting trips. Rogue River Journeys’ most popular trip is a four-day “camp-camp-lodge”, which means you camp along the river for the first two nights but then spend your final night at the gorgeous and comfortable Paradise Lodge. This is my favorite way to see the Rogue River because, even though the camping is really pretty luxurious, nothing beats a hot shower and comfy bed after a day on the water. The “camp-camp-lodge” option gives visitors a chance to see everything the Rogue River has to offer.
Now that the sun is starting to show her face, it’s time to plan your summer vacation for 2012. If you do decide to visit Ashland, make sure to give us a ring at 541-203-0222 to make reservations for your Nugget-Powerhouse Rogue River trip. For trips on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River, call Jim Ritter at 1-866-213-7754. From a half-day to a four-day trip on the Rogue River, it’s guaranteed: you’ll have the time of your life.
Dana Woodruff lives in Ashland, Oregon and runs Indigo Creek Outfitters with her boyfriend, Will Volpert. Off the river, she enjoys photography and spending time with her yellow Labrador, “Groover”.