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Assigned camps on the Rogue

12770 Views 60 Replies 37 Participants Last post by  fajawiebe
Just curious.

I haven't been on the Salmon lately. Do you think an "assigned camp" type of program would work on the Rogue?

I usually do the Rogue a couple times a summer and my biggest frustration is watching all the commercial gear boats heading downstream to grab the biggest/best camps. I typically have large groups and have gotten caught searching for suitable camps later in the day when most are already taken.

Just took Oregon State's "Boater survey" and it got me thinking.....
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I personally would love it. We pulled into a huge football field camp at horseshoe that had a small group (3 boats) and they want it all for themselves. Long story short, we wound up having to row for an extra hour until we were able to find another camp. I hate searching for and then pulling into camp near dusk. On an october trip we had to camp on a small island in the middle of the river because everything else was taken. We had 15 min of dusk remaining when we got our boats unloaded
Being a shorter mileage trip like Lodore with a set number of days could work quite well on that river.** Or they need to enforce that all groups must stay together.* You’re absolutely right, having that gear boat truck by you first thing in the morning and then seeing one person napping down there when you pass is BS and isn’t the spirit of what it’s about.** **Plus you have the added issue there of some camps having toilets vs not.* Sounds like it would be a good idea.***
I would be all for it, my biggest stress on the trip is getting the camp I am planning on.

I asked about assigned camps last summer at the BLM office in Rand and they said they had no plans to implement that kind of system since it was only an issue during a few weeks of the permit season. I'm not sure if they've adjusted their thinking since then. I'd love to see it. It takes the worry out of your day. Until something changes, I've found the only way to combat it, is longer trips. Five short days with no layovers helps you lose the groups you launch with but stay in front of those who launch a day after you. Even then, there's no guarantee you won't be searching for a camp site.

I would be all for it, my biggest stress on the trip is getting the camp I am planning on.
It is nice doing trips in the spring when you don't have to worry about it for sure. Bottom line is the larger camps are routinely occupied by commercial trips in the summer because they send a runner. Same with the main part of the foster bar ramp most of the time. Not a big issue if you have small group. Give yourself time and have alternate spots planned. A long push one day with layover is an option etc. I try not to think about because I hate feeling like its a race. I would be interested in hearing the opinions of people who guide on the Rogue.
Great idea. I don't like looking for camps after a long day.

Same subject, different river, but I think it's time to start a conversation about camping on the Deschutes as well. Both Deschutes trips this year, I have seen one group using two contiguous camps. The Deschutes was a real free for all, at least on my two trips this year and at the larger sites, Whiskey Dick and Buckskin Mary. First, I would like to see the BLM step up and do their job. I quickly discovered it was a mistake to ask the groups why they were using two sites.
bad idea...imho
The Rogue permit/cancellation system is easy, uncomplicated and virtually devoid of regulatory hassles compared to lots of other rivers. Why add to it?
bad idea...imho
The Rogue permit/cancellation system is easy, uncomplicated and virtually devoid of regulatory hassles compared to lots of other rivers. Why add to it?

I used to think that way too. Not any more. Every trip I've seen most of the outfitters send gear boats down to save the primo camps. Not cool.

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The BLM can't even keep the punks from breaking in to rigs parked at Grave creek for more than 1hour. I'm not sure they are ready to implement anything that would take extra effort or time. I think that just taking out all the toilets and increasing the reiver patrols would help the situation and level the playing field. I would support a hybrid system like on the Main Salmon but fully assigning camps could be a problem in the windy afternoons. IMHO
There is something wrong when the outfitter rabbit shows up and starts unloading before the group from the night before is still in camp. Essentially by using this tactic the commercial trips are informally reserving the camps At the very least I would propose that from June to Labor Day the BLM and outfitters get together and assign camps for the outfitters then post the week's worth of camps when you go check in. At least that way you know where the outfitters are planning on going and can plan accordingly.

Some may get pissed because those F-ing commercial trips got the camp I wanted, but on my last trip I talked quite a bit with the commercial trips and we had agreed on camps. The commercial trip took the camp I wanted because a private was in the camp they wanted. At least it would be nice to know ahead of time that the commercial trip was there and to plan accordingly.
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Main salmon has some reserved and some non reservable first come first serve sites. Works for me

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The campsite shuffle stress can be a real downer. I can't say I've experienced it much on the Rogue because I can't ever seem to win a summer permit!

I had no idea that the commercial groups were allowed to run for camps. To me that sort of thing is preposterous. I've been a commercial guide on other rivers and we kept our trips together. If you can get all your fatties dressed packed and loaded and beat me to camp go for it. Allowing one strong rower to push ahead really angers me. I'm not sure we're ready for fully assigned camps, but I'd be game with taking out the toilets if that helps the situation. I'll be sure to tell the folks at Rand my opinion when I start showing up there for my fall trips next month.
Some people's children

I'd be nice if a simple boaters education program would fix this. We ran into some of the same issues on the Grand in March - only 2 parties a day launching. Small parties in large camps and unwillingness to share.

Most groups seem willing to share but certainly not all - it may just be a bad upbringing, it may be drug related, it may be previous bad experience in sharing - whatever it is it certainly can diminish the experience.

I don't think folks that behave badly are gonna change because we want them to - regardless of education programs. Likely that assigned camps and increased BLM/NPS/FS/state officials enforcement - with accompanying increase in permit fees - is the only answer - too bad.
Camp running (by outfitters or private boaters) used to be prohibited. I'm not sure that the rules have ever changed, but it is clear that if the rule still exists, it isn't being enforced. Last time I ran the Rogue, I got into a campsite race with ARTA's camp runner (and won). When we informed the kid that he was violating the rules, he just looked at us dumbly and said that they do it all the time.

When I was an outfitter on the Rogue (a quarter-century ago) we could be sanctioned pretty severely for camp-running. We never did it. Most of our permits were for small group starts, so we couldn't economically take a space for a paying customer and use it for a camp runner.

Still, I was always skeptical about assigned campsite rules until I actually experienced it as a private boater on the Middle Fork and Main Salmon. The system isn't perfect (we arrived at one Main Salmon camp to find that it had been given away twice; and I think that 7:00 is too late to hold camps) but despite its shortcomings, it does take the stress out of watching other groups go past while you're stopped for lunch.
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What do you think about the commercial trips being assigned larger camps? Whiskey Creek, Tyee, Mule Creek, Takama etc? Last year I posted on here because we ran into guided trips in places I have never seen them before. It sucks when some of the spots that are commonly occupied by private trips are being taken. I don't want to be told where to camp on the Rogue, but the "runner" thing is real and a bit silly. Again I would like to hear the opinion of current guides.
I have a few friends that are guides down there, the way it was told to me is they could only hold a camp if the tents, kitchen and groover are setup. On our last trip we floated past fully setup camps with a guide chilling in the shade waiting for the group to show up.

As far as what camps, I think if BLM managed the commercial trips they could make sure they are spread out enough so that private boaters can fill in between. I would also push for commercial trips to stick to camps without outhouses as they tend to be more popular with private trips.

What do you think about the commercial trips being assigned larger camps? Whiskey Creek, Tyee, Mule Creek, Takama etc?
In the old days, guides set up semi-permanent "guide camps" at key locations along the river. Some were on public land, some on private. But when the government took over the river in the late 60s and early 70s, the guide camps were all taken down, and most of the private land was acquired by the government.

The problem with your idea is that three or four commercial trips launch every day. They're not going to want to share camps with each other, any more than we do as private boaters. Generally, every outfitter has his own favorite camps (My guides preferred Doe Creek, Hewitt Creek, and Brushy Bar for 3-night trips). But the guides also know of camps that private boaters, who are less familiar with the river, may not know about. They may not be the preferred camps, but there always was a place to stop.

I think that what's happening now is that the internet has made information about these "unknown" campsites available to all, and that may contribute to the feeling by outfitters that they need to use camp runners.

I would think that outfitters might welcome a reservation system that would eliminate the need for camp runners. Camp running isn't cheap. It requires an extra guide, an extra boat, and takes a permit space away from a paying customer. Those costs have to be passed on to the remaining customers.

The big drawback is the time it takes to do the campsite lottery every morning. Last time I went down the Middle Fork, it took most of an hour--but my group got every campsite we wanted (because our float plan was a little bit out of sync with most others, and because we took smaller sites).
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A long time ago we would run a boat ahead to reserve a camp for our commercial groups, in particular on Gore. We generally had large groups and the Bench, upper bench, and lone tree were the sites big enough for our mobs.
I know it pissed off the other outfitters; it got so bad the joke was who would win the sprint from pump house to bench.
No apologies; we ran large groups, we all but pioneered the Gore range, and it was indeed a hassle if you rolled into the bench and found a one boat 3 person party daring you to touch ground. Especially when you knew already another group was headed for Lone Tree.
That said, we would share with other private groups, depending on their beer stocks and male/female ratios. We'd even share with commercial groups, with the understanding that the sales pitch was forbidden, and again with a strict eye to the male/female ratio.

A permit system avoids the unpleasantness of camp running; no matter what camp you end up with, you at least can plan accordingly.
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For as much of a hassle as the rangers can be in some ways in Dinosaur, having your camps assigned before you even show up at the boat ramp really helps all the groups on the river get along. Kelly can look at group sizes and trip lengths of more than one day at a time, and does an admirable job of giving both commercial and private an equal shot at the "best" camps. Waaaaaay lower stress while on the river than any first-come first-served system. I'm a fan, and wish it was in place on every permitted river. I did a Rogue in March (March! In Oregon!) and it was still full of passive-aggressive "I'm staying here, what about you" moves and then a group that changed their plan after we talked got upset and yelled at us for a while when we took a big camp that they had told us they would skip. Sheesh... Assign 'em all!
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