Rogue River Jet-Boating
You don’t have to risk life and limb in a fancy inner tube to see the Rogue: Several local companies offer jet-boat tours. On a jet boat, powerful engines suck in hundreds of gallons of water per minute and shoot it out the back of the boat through a narrow nozzle, generating the necessary thrust for propulsion.
With no propeller to hit rocks and other obstacles, these 20-ton machines can carry 40 or more passengers in water only six inches deep. This makes the jet boat an ideal way to enjoy the beauty of the Rogue while keeping your feet dry. Also, many outfitters charter drift boats to visit secret fishing holes for anglers to try their luck landing supper.
Hellgate Excursions (953 SE 7th St., 541/479-7204 or 800/648-4874, www.hellgate.com, May 1–late Sept.) is the premier jet-boat operator on this end of the river. (Jet-boat tours of the Rogue are also offered from Gold Beach on the coast.) Their trips begin at the dock of the Riverside Inn (971 SE 6th St.) and proceed downriver through the forested Siskiyou foothills.
En route, black-tailed deer, ospreys, and great blue herons are commonly seen. If you’re lucky, a bald eagle or a black bear might also be sighted. The scenic highlight is the deep-walled Hellgate Canyon, where you’ll look upon what are believed to be the oldest rocks in the state.
The least expensive way to experience this adventure is with a “scenic” cruise ticket ($37), but for a bit more money you can step up to a brunch, lunch, or dinner cruise. Another option is the white-water adventure trip that goes beyond Hellgate ($62 adults, lunch available but not included).
These excursions feature commentary by your pilot, who knows every eddy in the river. Be sure to call ahead for reservations, as space on all of their runs books up fast.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel