Several natural wonders can be considered Oregon icons. One is majestic Mt. Hood. Another is awe-inspiring Crater Lake. And a third is the wild and rugged Rogue River.
For those craving a wild river experience and good food to boot, nowhere else in the United States can you raft a wilderness river during the day and stay in a comfortable lodge with delectable food each evening than with ROW Adventures’ series of culinary Rogue River rafting trips. ROW offers three this year: a gourmet food and wine rafting trip, a gourmet food and Oregon craft beer trip, and a gluten-free trip. The trips offer food lovers, wine lovers and beer lovers a chance to combine their passions with a fun outdoor adventure. And the gluten-free trip allows those with wheat allergies to enjoy a multiple-day rafting trek without having to bring along special meals for the journey.
The Rogue River, winding its way from the Cascade Mountains through Southern Oregon to the Pacific, is one of the gems of our state. The Rogue flows past some of our most spectacular scenery: high rocky canyons, Douglas fir forests, buttes and mountains, and, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of some of the state’s notable wildlife, including bald eagles, osprey, deer, elk and bears.
The rafting trips take place on the most scenic section flowing through the heart of the Rogue River Wilderness, with intermediate-level rapids. ROW’s lodge trips are unique because each night you stay at a remote riverside lodge where you enjoy a wonderfully prepared dinner and your own room with private bathroom. During the day you have an adventure rafting through the river’s rapids and then get to relax and enjoy the scenery in the calm pools and stretches in between, while keeping your eyes open for wildlife.
For the gourmet food and wine trip (June 25-27), one of ROW’s chefs takes over the kitchen at the lodges each night and prepares gourmet meals highlighting Oregon’s wonderful foods. Drew Gibbs, a sommelier from the Winchester Inn, serves a selection of Oregon wines and educates guests about winemaking in Oregon.
For the craft beer trip (July 17-19), guests are treated to a selection of craft beers from Ninkasi Brewing of Eugene, along with appetizers each night before dinner at the lodges.
For the gluten-free trip (August 21-23), ROW is working with gluten-free RN Nadine Grzeskowiak and a gluten-free chef to make sure that your meals are not only gluten-free but also delicious. This is a vacation where you can have true peace of mind — no worries about the food being served you, just focus on the fun. ROW says Nadine is confident that this trip will address almost any food allergy because the food will be fresh, organic, and free of allergy-triggering substances. So the added benefit is that if you have food allergies other than gluten, this Oregon rafting trip will also be the perfect vacation.
Although Charles and I haven’t been on one of ROW’s trips yet, we spoke with Brad Moss, the Director of Marketing for ROW Adventures. Brad said the trips, which carry a maximum of 23 persons each, have guaranteed departures. Guests meet at the Morrison Lodge in Merlin, Oregon, the night before each trip to get an orientation and be fitted for their flotation devices. Guests gather in the parking lot at the lodge the next morning, where they leave their cars and are transported to the river to begin their adventure.
Guests are required to sign a release of liability and fill out some forms before the trip regarding dietary restrictions, beverage preferences, and which type of river craft you prefer, along with some other important information.
We asked Brad whether or not the trip was too strenuous for guests with pacemakers or guests who are older. Brad said that some of their rafts have seats where the guests don’t have to paddle; they can simply be a passenger. On one of their trips, a guest in his 70s thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, he said. As with any activity, if you have a medical condition, it’s advisable to consult with your physician before taking a trip like this. All guides are equipped with satellite phones in case of emergencies.
Meals and drinks are provided from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day.
ROW is an established business with more than 30 years of experience focused on adventure trips. Some of their other trips can be as exotic as tours of the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu; fly-fishing tours of the Coeur d’Alene River and the Salmon River in Idaho; and adventure cruises of the Nile River in Egypt, Patagonia, and Alaska. ROW also provides trips tailored for guest niches such as yoga trips, all-women departures, gay and lesbian trips, and culinary trips to other locations. They’ve received several honors, including National Geographic Adventure magazine’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth,” National Geographic Adventure’s 2010 “25 Best New Trips in the World,” National Geographic Travelers “Tours of a Lifetime” for four years in a row, Outside magazine’s “2010 Best New Trips” and “2009 Trip of the Year,” and Every Day with Rachel Ray “Best Way to See Lake Coeur d’Alene.”
So if you’re interested in the Rogue trips, you can book with confidence that you’re going to enjoy yourself. Brad provided us with a sample of what to expect on the Rogue River trips:
You’ll meet at Morrison Lodge at 9 a.m. and load into vans to be taken to the put-in point of the river. The river starts off gently, but it isn’t long before you come to your first rapids. Sometime before noon, you enter the Congressionally designated Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River at a rapid called Grave Creek. Generally, lunch is served the first day around the Class 5 rafting rapid called Rainie Falls (guests walk around this rapid). The afternoon is filled with several Class 2 and 3 rapids and you arrive at Black Bar Lodge around 4:30 p.m. While you’re being assigned to your cabin to clean up, the chefs prepare the evening hors d’oeuvres as well as complimentary regional wine, beer and sodas for you to enjoy before dinner. You can also take a short hike around the lodge or just lounge around and visit with your fellow travelers. Around 7 p.m. dinner is served and at 10 p.m., the generator is shut down, so guests are encouraged to bring flashlights.
Coffee and tea are served around 7 a.m., and breakfast around 7:30 a.m. After breakfast, you pack up and carry your gear back to the river rafts, which launch around 9 a.m. On this day, you will bounce through some Class 2 and 3 rapids, stop for lunch along the way, and arrive at Rogue River Ranch sometime in the afternoon. Rogue River Ranch is a fascinating place to visit and a vivid example of early pioneer history. Later in the afternoon, you’ll arrive at Marial Lodge. Guests are assigned cabins and you will have time again to clean up. Then relax on the deck with views of the river canyon before hors d’oeuvres and dinner around 6:30 p.m. After dinner, you’ll have enough time to enjoy a short hike down a trail to a spectacular waterfall.
Breakfast is served around 8 a.m., and guests pack up and head back to the rafts around 9 a.m. You’ll raft over the most spectacular rapids today, including Mule Creek Canyon, Blossom Bar, and Devil’s Staircase, all of which are Class 4 rapids. After those rapids, the rest of the trip is relatively easy Class 2 and 3 rapids. Along the way, you’ll stop for lunch before reaching the take-out at Foster Bar around 3 p.m., where you’ll load into vans and head on a two-hour drive over the mountains and back to your cars at Morrison Lodge between 5 and 6 p.m.
Cost for trips:
Gourmet food and wine trip — $1,140 for adults $1,080 for youth ages 17 and under. (Minimum age is 5.)
Craft beer trip — $950 for adults. (No youths on this trip.)
Gluten-free trip — 1,140 adults, $1,080 for youths ages 17 and under. (Minimum age is 5.)
If you want more details, here are some links from ROW Adventures:
You can also call ROW for more information: 800-451-6034
We hope to see you on one of ROW Adventures’ Rogue River culinary adventure trips!