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Challenging the Rogue

Oregon whitewater rafters have one up on most of the country. They can challenge the Rogue River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, right in their own backyard.

Beginning seven miles west of Grants Pass, the Hellgate Recreation area opens the door to 27 miles of Class I and II rapids. Beyond that, skilled rafters, or novices accompanied by professional guides, can challenge the river all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Along the riverbank in the Hellgate area are 11 developed access areas and four campgrounds where you can begin your voyage.

The ride begins calmly, but as you float further downriver the canyon walls close in and the rapids get a lot more challenging.

Once you clear the Hellgate area you're faced with 36 miles of uncivilized wilderness on the "wild" part of the river, where the only access is by hiking trail or raft.

Because individuals must enter a BLM lottery for a permit to run the wild portion, you're better off getting a guide.

BLM maintains a list of guides. Call 541-618-2200 or e-mail them at or110mb@or.blm.gov.

For a good description of a typical downriver trip and how to get one, check out the GORP outdoor Web site, gorp.away.com.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.

Challenging the Rogue