Rogue River Recollections

The Rogue River brings back so many good memories for me. I was about 6 when we moved to Merlin, Oregon. My parents built the best house. I still have dreams about staying in the house or visiting as an adult, but I digress. One of the best parts of living in this house was the fact that the river was a few miles away and my parents bought a raft. Most weekends in the summer time, when I wasn’t with my dad we would float the river.

Generally we would put in at Hog Creek and not every time, but most time, we would float all the way to Grave’s Creek. The Rogue River is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve seen in my life and find that I miss it at times. The scenery, the wildlife, the swimming and the family time.

I have a several memories, but the one that sticks out the most was when I was about 8. My brother is about 6 years younger than I am, so he would have been 2 at that point. We were slowly floating down the river just having a nice time. My brother was supposed to be in the back of the boat taking a nap. I was sitting in the back with him and he was leaning over the edge of the raft. Next thing I know he is in the water, I watched him go under and pop right back up since he had his life vest on. I remember his little blonde head popping back up and the water sluicing off his face turning his eyelashes to little spikes. And I nonchalantly said “Mom, Curtis is swimming.

The next thing I know is that mom, is picking him up by the handle on the back of his life vest, shaking her finger at him and giving him a talking to. She plopped hin back down in the bottom of the boat and told him to stay there. Not sure why, that one stuck but it did and it was one of my favorites.


The other was a number of years later, in fact I believe it was the same year as the Great Cemetary Caper when I was 16. My parents were in the raft, I was in a tahiti (a little raft like canoe) with my Aunt C. My brother was in a Tahiti with Aunt D. We kept telling her that she should put her shoes and sunscreen and everything back under her seat which pulled up so you could store things safely. But she felt they would be fine. We started at Hog Creek Boat Landing as was normal and had a nice float.

Upper Galice Photo by Thomas O’Keefe © taken 07/19/15 @ 1500 cfs

When we got to Upper Galice Rapids, C and I made it though no problem. However, Upper Galice is notorious for flipping people. And low and behold, D and my brother flipped. C and I sat in a little cove at the bottom and waited. While we sat we were approached by a man, who had also been one that had been dumped. He lifted his arm and was holding a flip flop and asked if it belonged to us. We pointed up to were my family was still working their way down and said it belonged to Aunt D. He graciously handed it over and said “Oh ok, well it hit my on the head while I was drowning” and we all had a good laugh.

When my family finally made it the rest of the way though we found what took them so long, D had been panicking because she couldn’t find my brother. They had finally found him when they turned over the tahiti. He had just been floating merrily along underneath with his head above the water. The adults decided it was time to stop for lunch about that point. I think they needed a drink.

The only part of the Rogue I never got to float with my family was the Wild & Scenic section. They floated it nearly once every summer from Graves Creek to Agness. A permit is required to float the Wild & Scenic section as the rapids are Category 4 & 5, in other words some of them are pretty nasty. They would float with friends and leave us behind, I think it was their way to get a vacation from my brother and I.

If you are ever looking for something adventurouse, this is a good way to do it. There are all kinds of tour companies that book trips. But there is one other trip that holds fond memories, but they are actually multiple trips because we went several times.

The company is call Hellsgate Excursions and they have a number of jet boats that take people on tours for the rogue. There are Dinner or Lunch Trips or just a scenic tour. I’ve mostly been on the Dinner trips and one scenic. The scenic trip was our high school senior trip. They loaded the Seniors up onto 3-4 boats and off we went. There is one part of the tour when you come to a wide spot in the river where they do donuts in the water causing most of the people in front couple rows to get soaked. They would also play around with fellow boaters and when asked they would rev the motor and spray the other boaters. And I’ve been on both sides of the spraying. Loads of fun and definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Grants Pass, Oregon.

2 thoughts on “Rogue River Recollections

  1. Sounds like great times. My biggest regret is that I never learned to swim. Now I am 62 yrs. old and still can’t swim. All of my brothers and my sister were excellent swimmers. I just couldn’t stand water in my face, so I never did learn.


    • I don’t like water in my face either but mostly just don’t like getting splashed in the face. Not sure if I felt that way as a child, but my grandma had a pool so I was in the water all the time from early childhood. It’s never too late to learn 🙂 My dad never learned to swim either, but he loves going out in the boat. One time he even put on a life jacket and paddled around with us kids in the middle of the lake.


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