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Rafting on the Rogue River (with a permit)

There are few different ways to get on the wild and scenic section of the Rogue River, arguably one of the best multi day float trips in the world.  Assuming you’ve already got the boat and the gear (and if you don’t, you can get it at ), know how to row your boat and can get a permit from the BLM, well then, the number of days you can escape for is your only limiting factor. Of course, if you said no to any of the above, you should probably book your first trip with a commercial outfitter – you don’t need a boat, any experience or common sense and you’ll still have an awesome time.

As a long standing member of team Clavey, I’ve got my choice of gear from here at HQ.  And to say Clavey has pretty good gear is like saying the President has pretty good security.   So, right around June I decided I’d grab and Avon Expedition and our Clavey Rig and start looking for a launch date on the Rogue for sometime in July.

There are four ways you can get a private boaters permit on the Rogue:

#1 The Float Space Lottery.  The Rogue River Lottery application period begins December 1, 2008 and continues to January 31, 2009. In order for your application to be entered into the lottery you must follow all rules contained within the Application Letter.  I’ve never gone this particular route but the gist is that when (if) you win so many spots (boaters) they give you a specific launch day.  That’s your launch day.   Hope you and your friends can take the time (that specific time) off.  

#2 You can call for available spaces.  After the lottery process, there are still float spaces available. These available spaces are given away over the phone beginning the first business day in April.  They go pretty quick and they go to people who are a little more clairvoyant in their planning than I am.

#3 Confirmation deadline.  10 days before their launch date, anyone who already has a permit has to call in and confirm their number of space.  Any spaces confirmed to be unused will go to the first callers the next business day.  This is the way I always think I’m going to get permits and never do.  I call and call and call and call and finally the phone rings and somebody answers and I ask if there might possibly be four little tiny inconspicuous openings on such and such a date and the other end of the phone will be silent for a moment as if they don’t already know the answer and had to look it up in the book.  The answer, of course, is no.  And this leads us to…

#4 Show up anyway and hope someone who already confirmed they’ll be there was lying.  This is where I’ve had my best luck.  Show up at the BLM office on the Rogue anytime during the day or night and you can grab one of the numbered slips of paper off the little box at the door, write down your name and the number of people with you and drop it in the box and the next morning one of those fine hardworking rangers from the BLM office will call your name, tell you you’ve got a permit for all the people in your group, take your money and send you on your way to the launch.  Or one of those lazy government freeloaders with their cushy jobs and their guaranteed pensions will tell you there are no permits for you (It is of course not their fault, and you can see I don’t blame them).   And it this last example, why I have so many fun photos of the Klamath River.

After weeks of calling with no luck we decided to make the 8 hour drive north with the off chance that we could scrape four permits together at the Ranger’s office in the morning.  My girlfriend promised me she’d be ready to leave the house no later than 5pm.  That put us at 1am, 2am at the outside.  No problem. Get there drop our name in the box, get some sleep and get back to the ranger station in the morning, just in time to hear our name called and our permit issued.  Unfortunately, my girlfriend isn’t always as punctual as one might like and instead,  we managed to roll out of the driveway a little after nine.

After eight hours of listening to Nicole snore (she does like her beauty sleep), we rolled into the Smullin Visitor Center at the Rand National Historic Site.  My high beams hit a guy getting out of his truck and walking to the box.  It was 4:53 am.   By a matter of under a minute, he and his party of four got the only four permits that would be freed up for Saturday…or Sunday.

And thus #5.  Run the Klamath River instead.


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