Grave Creek to Foster Bar
Length: 35 miles/ 3 to 5 days
Class: III (one IV)
Gradient: 24 ft/mile
Season: Year Round
Permits: Required, lottery from May 15th to October 15. Cancellations can be picked up day of at Smulin or through the call-in process. Outside the lottery season is a self-registration permit is obtained at Smulin BLM.
Rogue River Rafting Overview
In Southern Oregon, a Rogue River rafting trip from Grave Creek to Foster Bar is one of the destination multi-day whitewater trips in the western U.S. The Rogue has the distinction of being one of the original eight Wild and Scenic Rivers. Since 1987 the Wild Rogue Wilderness Area has protected the lands around the lower half of the wilderness run. There is a push to expand the wilderness area to include the upper part of this run. Looking for information on Rogue River Rafting Day Trips near Grants Pass try the Class II Nugget Powerhouse Section for paddle rafts.
This is the best whitewater rafting and camping trip in the northwest. There are numerous ideal camps well spread out over the course of the trip. The Rogue River Trail runs the length of the Rogue River Canyon so it is possible to hike the entire stretch. Some outfitters offer raft supported hiking trips in the spring for those that prefer to keep their packs light.
An excellent resource is the Rogue River Rafting Guide by the BLM.
River Rafting Trip for Everyone
Everyone from 5 year-olds to 95 year-olds has fun rafting the Rogue. The river is long enough to be interesting yet short enough that there is plenty of time for drifting, hiking and hanging out in camp. While the rapids are fun and splashy, they are ideal to run in rafts and inflatable kayaks.
There is abundant wildlife: bears, eagles, osprey, otters, salmon, and deer. The weather is hot in the summer however it is not too hot. The water is warm enough to want to jump in however still refreshing on a hot summer day. The side creeks are cool, relaxing grottoes. During the fall it cools but isn’t too cold.
When to Raft the Rogue
The Wild and Scenic section of the river is open to rafting year round. The shuttles becomes challenging and extremely long during the winter when Bear Camp Road is closed. During permit season the river is heavily used. However, during the fall is a great time to go. Commercial trips have decreased at this time but the weather is still nice and a little cooler than mid-summer.
Fishing the River
Fishing on the Rogue is most popular in the fall. Many companies stay at lodges while fishing the river for salmon and steelhead. The salmon run brings wildlife out into the open as the feed on the numerous riverside carcasses making this a great time of year for wildlife viewing.
Rafting companies run the Rogue from May into September. The trips are typically all-inclusive from the first days lunch to the last days lunch. Outfitters will provide dry bags for packing your camping for the trip. They also will transport you to and from the river. Some outfitters while charge extra if you want to rent a tent or sleeping bag while other include them. Alcohol may or may not be included in the trip cost.
Rogue River Lodges
One of the unique aspects of rafting the Rogue is the great opportunity to stay at lodges as you proceed down the wild and scenic section. For those looking for a luxury rafting experience with showers and sit down meals this is a great option.
Front Country Lodges
Wilderness Riverside Lodges
Trip Length and Permits
Groups typically spend four days on their Rogue rafting trips however it can be run in 2, 3, 5, or up to a maximum of 7 days. The Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service permit 120 people per day to float the multi-day stretch of the river on private trips between May 15th – October 15th. The lottery run by the federal agencies for Rogue River rafting permits is fairly competitive.
The Rogue River area contains a variety of attractions in addition to whitewater rafting. The scenic coast of Oregon is a worthy road particularly the Gold Coast are where jet boats launch there up canyon adventures. Just south is Ashland, Oregon, home to the internationally famous Shakespeare Festival. Heading inland from Grants Pass you can explore Crater Lake National Park.
Rogue River Canyon Highlights
Mile 0: Trip Put-in
Approximately a 40 minute drive from Grants Pass, Oregon is the put-in at Grave Creek Boat Ramp where the Galice Road ends. There are multiple put-ins upstream the increase the length of the trip. The Alameda and Argo put-ins are the most popular of these upper river launch points.
Mile 0.1: Grave Creek Rapid (Class III)
Grave Creek Rapid has a two distinctive drops. The first pushes rafts into a rock wall on the left and the second, Grave Creek Falls has a couple of big waves with a nice pool below. Duckies (inflatable kayaks) are in for an exciting whitewater ride in Lower Grave Creek.
Mile 1.8: Rainey Falls (Class III, IV or V)
Trips scout Rainey Falls on river left. There are 3 options: the main class V drop on the left, the class IV middle chute and the class III fish ladder on the right. Getting into the middle and right chutes can be a bit tricky. The Class V drop is quick and less technical but violent. The other two routes take some maneuvering, be sure to have good markers for the entrances. The video above shows runs on the middle chute and the left Class V drop.
Mile 4.3: Tyee Rapid (Class III)
Lots of rafts running the Rogue River have been ripped at Tyee, watch out for the hole in the center and stay off the wall on the right. A nice campsite sits just below here on river right.
Mile 8: Black Bar Falls (Class III)
Upper Black Bar Falls (III) is one of the trickier rapids of the Rogue and a potential scout. The most common route is to enter river right and work left to avoid the rock wall on the bottom right shore. After a pool and a bend to the right, the river drops down fun Lower Black Bar Falls (II).
Mile 8.5: Black Bar Lodge
Hidden away on river left, Black Bar Lodge is the typical first night stop for those doing a 3 or 4 day Lodge Trip on the Rogue.
Mile 10.2: Horseshoe Bend (Class II)
The river takes a broad sweeping bend to the right. There is a huge camp on the river right bench up high.
Mile 19.4: The Ranch
On river right, this area is the last camping before Mule Creek Canyon and Blossom Bar Rapid. While it is typically busy, the historic Rogue River Ranch is worth a visit. A quarter mile downstream is Marial Lodge as with all the lodges reservations are required.
Mile 19.5: Mule Creek Canyon (Class III)
This iconic western rapid has a tricky set of entrance rocks (Jaws) followed by a memorable narrow walled canyon. It takes skill, minimal momentum and luck to get through the canyon in a raft without bumping either wall. Within the canyon lies Coffee Pot a bubbling section of whitewater that has flipped many inflatable kayaks. Keep an eye out for Stair Creek on the left at the bottom of the rapid.
Mile 22.3: Blossom Bar (Class IV)
The signature rapid of the Rogue is best scouted from river right. The standard run is to pull from left to right to get enough momentum to carry your raft into a tight chute and avoid wrapping on the Picket Fence. Downstream of this crux move the river is laden with additional wrap rocks. At high water more routes open up. Plan to spend some time here as groups typically take their time here.
Video of Blossom Bar
Mile 22.9: Devil’s Stair Rapid (Class III)
Around a sharp corner just downstream is Devil’s Stair Rapid. Watch out for Jet Boats, they are allowed to travel to the bottom of Blossom Bar Rapid.
Mile 23.5: Paradise Lodge
High on the right bank is Paradise Lodge, a common second night stop for Lodge trips. A quarter mile downstream on river left is Half Moon Bar Lodge, both lodges require reservations.
Mile 35.0: Foster Bar Take-out
Take-out is on river right. There are bathrooms and a groover dumping station here.
The Rogue is one of the best family rafting trips in the world. With warm water, fun whitewater, great camping and a long season this trip is accessible and enjoyable for all sorts of people. September after kids are back in school is an deal time for a trip. The cost is less than that of a Middle Fork Salmon or Grand Canyon trip but the value is greater!