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Rogue rafting in the Winter? (December)

3136 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  James Tyson
Hey team!
Some friends and I have been really itching to run something in the winter and we’ve been planning a four-day trip on the Rogue from grave Creek to foster bar in mid-December (12-16th). Does anybody have any information about boating this stretch in the winter? We are all experienced boaters and guides with dry suits and fancy winter camping gear. Our main concern is the water level but let us know if this is an outright ludicrous idea! Any beta will be gladly appreciated!
(it would be two 16' footers and 2 kayaks if that matters)
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It's not ludicrous, a few hardy souls run it in the winter every year. It's (usually) not terribly cold compared to what you would find on more inland rivers. Once the Bear Camp shuttle route closes, the shuttle gets much longer and more expensive, something around $350-400. The guidebook, The Rogue River - A Comprehensive Guide from Prospect to Gold Beach has a lot of good info about how rapids run at a wide range of levels. Even in the midst of our current run of storms, its only running around 4K.
Some friends and I ran it a few years ago during the typhoon. It was around 11,000 and it made everything easier to run. Blossom was a blast. People went way right, left of the fence and over the fence. I think black bar was the only real tricky one but again it was generally a great level.
I have done it in February and concur, Blossom is a blast. Our camp was completely covered in Snow aside from a 6ft diameter around the Firepit.

Shuttle sucks but alternative (death) is much worse.

Water level looks good right now - no expert but I believe the Picket Fence is under water ~6k - only reason I say 6k is I remember that being the level when we ran it / picket fence washed out. Others here would have much more credible information.
The water levels vary during December depending on the weather. I've run it at ten grand in a kayak. It was definitely doable, but it works you. The weather can go either way. I've been there in December when it was sixty something. I've also been there when it was so cold, the frozen puddles were raised up off the ground. Camping spots are plenty, but try to find one that gets sun. I've gone by horseshoe bend in the winter and it looked like it was part of the permafrost. Bears may be hibernating, but the raccoons aren't. They have and will steal anything that smells like food. They took a life jacket that had an empty granola bar wrapper in it. Took a while to find their stash spot. Fishing is usually good that time of year, depending on the water levels. Also, you can have a fire, which you haven't been able to most of this summer.
Maybe I'll see you all out there. I'm more or less planning a December trip myself.
This is not a ludicrous idea, unless the weather gods conspire against you. There’s no way of knowing water level until the few days before your trip. Could be cold sideways rain or sunny or you could get a warm rain on snow event that spikes it up to ludicrous levels. My buddy, Will Volpert, caught it at 90k a couple of winters ago. The videos are on the inter webs. Most all the usual camps were deep underwater and he beat the shuttle to take out. But, odds are you’ll have moderate flows and cold/rainy but tolerable weather and you’ll have a grand old time.
Yeah, but Will Volpert is such a stud, who can follow him?
Every year, people ask about winter Rogue runs. I usually say it can't be done, cuz I don't want too many down there in the rainy season, as I like trips when I see no other groups. But, alas, it is superb down there. Most little rapids wash out over 5 or 6 K. easy to do 4 miles/hour. Higher flows means more room to take alternate routes. Blossom really the one place that gets really big and pushy, Gr. Canyon-like, over 30K or so. Great camps that usually have a long haul (battle bar, horseshoe) are easier. I would recommend going further down if the water is higher than, say, 5K...down to at least Cougar, but preferably Q-creek, some 25 miles past Foster. Beautiful down there. I do it every winter. Happy to give you more beta ...
I put in last February at Graves Creek. It was a great trip. Started with some snow and rain. Ended with sunshine. If you got the gear, go for it. A big ass propane heater is useful. JT
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