Tag Archives: rogue river

Blossom Bar Rapid

Blossom bar rapid
Blossom bar rapid

Blossom bar rapid, on the Rogue river is considered the pinnacle rapid on the wild and scenic section. It has a nasty reputation for creating carnage and sometimes death.

It  isn’t a terribly difficult rapid, there’s just a couple moves you have to make to avoid rapping on the picket fence. If you know the route and can make the moves you’re golden.

I first rowed Blossom when I was 16. I’d been through it many times with my dad at the oars and he taught me the route.  I always row it the way he showed me, and it has always worked out well (knock on wood).

The key was and still is, to get into the first eddy with time to set up for the slot. Once you’re in the slot, you’re past the picket fence which is where the shit can hit the fan. From there it’s just a matter of picking your way through the rest of the boulder field.

 

I’ve done a Rogue trip every year at least once since I was 14, and I’ve seen Blossom bar rapid change. Rivers are constantly in flux as high water moves rocks or shifts sand, and Blossom is no exception. I’m not sure if it’s easier or harder, but it’s definitely not the same.

The eddy you pull into at the top is smaller, the water moving through it is faster, and the slot above the picket fence is much tighter. The thing that hasn’t changed is the amount of carnage it creates every summer.

The last trip I did, was the 2nd weekend of October. For some reason the river was packed. As one of my drift boat guide friends said, “there sure is a lot of rubber out here.”

The river was low, around 1200 CFS and I was thinking there would be a lot of carnage at Blossom, particularly in light of how many inexperienced oarsmen I was encountering. So our plan was to get through Blossom as early as possible and avoid the traffic jam that seemed inevitable.

It worked out for us, we got there between groups, but the carnage was there nonetheless. It had preceded us. The picket fence looked like a junk yard. It was plastered with shredded rafts, and bent, broken raft frames.

The frames were sticking into the slot, making it even narrower. The frames were broken and bent creating lethal spikes everywhere; waiting to skewer unsuspecting rubber.

Our group of experienced boaters made it through no problem, but it was tight. As I drifted by the various raft wrecks, there was gear floating everywhere in the eddies. Ropes fluttered just beneath the surface, waiting to wrap around unlucky swimmers’ ankles. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.

At camp that evening, the masses of raft groups drifted by us one by one. We watched and tried to notice if any boats were missing, but it seemed everyone had made it through.

It always amazes me that there isn’t more carnage. There was one group we were particularly afraid for. They could hardly make it down any of the easier rapids without careening off rocks. I have no idea how they all made it through Blossom, but they did. I guess it goes to show the river can be forgiving.

Although i’m sure the people that owned all that rubber and metal still lodged in the picket fence would disagree.

How to Apply for a Rogue River Permit

In my previous post I mentioned that from December 1st through January 31st the great rivers of the northwest are open for applying for river permits. This means that if you want to take a private trip down the wild and scenic rogue river between May 15th and October 15th, you need to apply for a river permit.

Here’s the process for applying for a Rogue River permit:

1. Get your friends and family involved. Call up your river running buddies and remind them that it’s river permit application time. Talk about possible dates that might work, then let them know that if you get a permit you’ll invite them along  as long as they reciprocate the favor. This will greatly increase your chances of actually getting on the river.

2. Deciding on Dates. Obviously you need to decide on dates that would work for your family to be on the river. That’s not an easy task considering you’re deciding on dates still many months away. The BLM has created this document to help you figure out which dates have the best chance of your application being picked in the lottery.

3. Go to this site and print an Application Fill out the application and fax it back to their office. You’ll need to send 6 dollars for each application or they won’t process it. If you don’t get a permit you’re out 6 bucks but it’s a small price to pay for getting a spot on the river.

4. Sit tight and wait for March. The lottery winners are announced in early March. There are two ways to find out whether you’re on the list. If you haven’t gotten a letter by March 12th…you didn’t get a permit. If you’re inpatient and can’t wait until March 12th or just need some closure, they list the successful applicants online at the BLM site.

If you don’t get a permit don’t be discouraged, I’ve applied every year since I was 18 and I’ve never been succesful. In spite of that I have never gone a season without floating the wild and scenic section of the Rogue river. In an upcoming post I’ll fill you in on the secret to getting on the river without being a lottery winner.

Gold Ray Drift

I finally got on the new stretch of river that was created as a result of the gold ray dam removal on the Rogue river. It was a quick trip in my drift boat to check out the new area and try to catch some wily Rogue river steelhead. 

Of course the top part of the stretch is the same as it’s always been with one exception. There were tons of spawning Chinook Salmon. This is the time of year that spawning occurs but I’ve never seen so many salmon in this stretch of river. It was weird, I literally couldn’t keep from hitting them with my oars. they were darting around like great logs just beneath the surface. 

Rogue River
Rogue River with Table Rock in the Background

 

I was perplexed as to why this area was so full of them, but finally got my answer when I got to the area below where gold ray dam was taken out. But first let me tell you about my float. 

I’ve done this stretch before but always in my tiny pontoon boat. Now that the dam is removed I can row my drift boat and use the never before accessible boat ramp. For a further explanation see my previous post

Besides tons of spawning salmon, I didn’t see a change in the river until I was about 2 miles above where the dam used to be. At this point I started seeing some of the silt and mud on the side of the river. 

First signs of silt
Silty banks

 

This silt is an accumulation of 104 years of a stopped up river. It was thick, loamy, and black. For many years to come this is the stuff that will run off and muddy up the Rogue with every rise in the river. Hopefully, we’ll have some big rainy winters and get the Rogue to really flush all this shit out of there in one or two seasons. Continue reading Gold Ray Drift

Dam Removal Opens New Stretch of Water

Since 1904 there has been a pour over dam on the Rogue river called, Gold Ray dam. It was built by some locals, C.R. and Frank Ray, before there were rules and regulations about such things.

The original structure was built of logs. The Ray’s dream was to produce hydroelectric power from their makeshift dam. They were successful and were the first suppliers of hydroelectric power to the Rogue Valley.

Eventually the dam was bought and rebuilt with concrete. A fish ladder was also built to accommodate the migrating Salmon and Steelhead.

In 1972 the hydroelectric feature of the dam was shut down. The dam remained and eventually was named one of the biggest hindrances to migrating fish on the Rogue River.

To make a long story short and to get to the point of this post, the dam was removed with federal and local money in the Spring of 2010. The Medford Mail Tribune reported extensively about this process and can be read here.

The nearest upstream boat ramp to Gold Ray dam is Touvelle boat launch. Before the dam was removed you could launch your boat from Touvelle and float this great Steelhead water, but you needed a jet boat in order to climb back upstream to the boat ramp. Continue reading Dam Removal Opens New Stretch of Water

Oregon Whitewater River: Best for Kids

I live in Southern Oregon very near the famous Rogue River; it flows no more than ten minutes from my front doorstep. This may make me biased but The Rogue River is the best whitewater river in Oregon for a family river trip. 

raft on the rogue
Our 15 foot SOTAR

 The Rogue winds more than 130 miles before entering the Pacific Ocean in Gold Beach Oregon. The best section for a family whitewater river trip is the wild and scenic section of the Rogue River. In order to float this federally protected stretch you need to have a highly sought after river permit.  Continue reading Oregon Whitewater River: Best for Kids