Wild and Scenic Rogue River Family Rafting, Oregon

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14221A, Raft


  • Raft the rapids of the Rogue
  • Swim and play on sandy beaches
  • Experience the beauty of a National Wild and Scenic River


  • Rafts, inflatable kayaks, paddles, and safety equipment
  • Visit to a wildlife rehabilitation center
  • Shuttle from Grants Pass to the put-in and return


DatesAug 3–6, 2014
Price$925 (Adult)
$825 (Child)
Min. Age7
StaffCristina Breen

Trip Overview

The Trip

Combining beautiful scenery, exciting whitewater, wildlife, and sunny Oregon weather, this float on one of the West's finest rivers is suitable for river novices and children seven and older.

The Rogue River flows through the forested Siskiyou Mountains of southwestern Oregon to the Pacific Ocean. Our trip is mostly along the 40-mile, federally designated Wild and Scenic section, which is home to black bears, river otters, deer, osprey, blue herons, and bald eagles. We'll stop to visit fern grottos, splash in waterfalls, and play on sandy beaches.

Have you wanted to share an unhurried vacation with your children without television, video games, or long lines? Are you and your children curious about the natural world and the Pacific Northwest? If so, this may be the trip for you.


The day before the trip, we’ll meet in Grants Pass, Oregon.  We’ll kick off our adventure by touring a local wildlife rehabilitation center and gathering for a mandatory orientation meeting.  At this meeting, you will receive your waterproof bag, learn how to pack it, review the first day's itinerary, and get answers to any questions you may have. The leader will send specific information regarding the time and location of these events to registered trip participants.

Day 1: On the first day, we'll gather at a meeting point and travel by van a few miles downriver to our put-in. We will board oar-powered rafts guided by knowledgeable and skilled boatmen. For the more adventurous, a paddle raft and inflatable kayaks will also be available.

We will run Upper and Lower Graves Creek Rapids on our first day and "scout" Rainee Falls -- a rapid so big that we must go around rather than through it. Later in the afternoon, we will camp along the river's edge, playing or just relaxing while the river guides prepare our dinner.

Day 2: Following a hearty breakfast in the morning, we will break camp and re-board our rafts. We will run the rapids of Tyee, Wildcat, and Upper and Lower Black Bar Falls. By now many of you will be asking to try the inflatable kayaks. We'll eat lunch in a pretty spot along the river (not hard to find around here!), and continue our floating exploration of this wonderful wilderness area.

As our second river day ends, the routine of setting up camp and preparing for dinner will be familiar. After dark, the Milky Way shines brightly and it is easy to fall asleep to the sounds of the river rushing by.

Day 3: Today's highlights will include a short hike to the historic Rogue River Ranch and an exciting run through the deep and narrow Mule Creek Canyon section of the river. We will also scout and run Blossom Bar rapid and later enjoy dinner, evening conversations, and our final night of camping along the Rogue.

Day 4: Our last day will keep us on the lookout for the bald eagles that inhabit this section of the river canyon. After lunch, we'll continue on to the take-out at Foster Bar, where we can help de-rig the rafts. We normally arrive back at Grants Pass around 6 p.m. after a scenic two-hour shuttle ride. To ease the transition from life along the river, you are invited to a no-host farewell dinner in Grants Pass.



Getting There

Our trip begins and ends in Grants Pass, Oregon. If you are driving, Grants Pass is bisected by Interstate 5. A quick check at a site such as Mapquest can give you exact driving directions and estimated time. The closest regional airport to Grants Pass is in Medford, 30 miles away. It is served by Horizon, United, United Express, and Delta Connection. The leader can assist you in finding a good search engine for flights, as well as information on ground transportation.

Accommodations and Food

All meals, from lunch on the first day through lunch on the last day, will be provided. Plan to eat breakfast and bring a snack before you arrive at the meeting spot on the first day. Please indicate any dietary issues for each member of your family on the personal questionnaire; it is usually possible to accommodate special dietary requests, but the leaders need to know in advance. Dinners before and after the trip in Grants Pass are not included in the trip price.

Beverages will include water, juice, cocoa, tea, and coffee. You may wish to bring your own sodas or other favorite beverages in plastic bottles, cans, or wine boxes. No glass is allowed on the river and no drinking is allowed outside of camp. This is for your safety and the safety and enjoyment of others.

You need to bring your own tent, sleeping bags, and pads, although these may be rented directly from the concessionaire if needed. On the night before and the night after the trip, you'll need to provide your own accommodations at a hotel or campground in Grants Pass. The leader will provide a list of potential places to stay.

Trip Difficulty

The minimum age on this trip is seven years old. It is a great trip for first-time river runners and for experienced paddlers alike. The Rogue River has some very fine rapids to keep the trip interesting and everyone alert, but you should not be intimidated if you've never done a rafting trip before.

You are expected to assist in loading and unloading dry bags and other equipment on and off the rafts, and in carrying equipment to and from the campsites. We will work with parents and children to optimize the wilderness camping experience, but each family must be able to take care of its needs and attend to its own campsite. The pace of the trip will be leisurely, allowing plenty of time for swimming, hiking, bird-watching, photography, and exploring.

Daytime temperatures are usually between 65-95 degrees, with low humidity. Nighttime lows are typically in the 50s-60s. Rain is possible, though late summer is typically dry. Our day-to-day itinerary on the river is flexible and will depend on water levels, weather conditions, and the inclinations of participants.

Water safety is a priority. Lifejackets will be provided for everyone, in both adult and children's sizes. A parent or guardian must accompany children on the trip. Parents and guardians will be primarily responsible for looking after the safety of their children, especially when on rafts or near the river.

Equipment and Clothing

Lifejackets, waterproof river bags, and ammo cans for your daily raft gear will be provided. Registered participants will receive a detailed list of necessary equipment. You'll need to have a free-standing, backpack-type tent with a removable rainfly, as well as sleeping bags and pads. You'll also need both cool-weather and rain gear (just in case!). People who need to can rent a tent and sleeping pad from the concessionaire.


An overview of this area's natural and human history will enhance your experience. The following sources are recommended (although not all are readily available):

  • Atwood, Kay, The Story of Settlement in the Rogue River Canyon.
  • Arman and Wooldridge, The Rogue: A River to Run.
  • Beckham, Stephen Dow, Requiem for a People.
  • Booth, Percy T., Legend of Indian Mary and Umqua Joe.
  • Booth, Percy T., Valley of the Rogues.
  • Quinn, James M., J. W. King, and J.G. King, Handbook to the Rogue River Canyon.


This trip takes place on one of the first rivers to receive the federal designation of Wild and Scenic. As such, we'll discuss the importance of wilderness areas and the protection of salmon and steelhead fisheries. We may also discuss issues such as the proposed wilderness designation for the Klamath-Siskiyou Forest, logging in the Takilma Forest, and western rivers and dams -- all at a level the entire family can appreciate.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.

While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.
Love of wilderness is an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we will ever know, the only paradise we ever need -- if only we had the eyes to see it. - Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire



Cristina Breen has been rafting and kayaking rivers in the West and Alaska for the past 18 years. She dreams of seeing fishers and wolverines in the untamed canyons of the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains. A licensed contractor and garden designer in the Bay Area, she enjoys beach combing, hiking, kayaking, and ceramics. She has a passion for rocks, music, fossils, books, mollusks, maps, birds, succulents, and wild places.

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