|MEETING PLACE:||Galice Resort, 11744 Galice Rd, Merlin, OR 97532|
|MEETING TIME:||6:00 PM, the evening before your trip|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 6:00 PM to Galice Resort|
|HIKER RATING:||Moderately strenuous|
|MILES COVERED:||Up to 45|
|RIVER SECTION:||Wild & Scenic section: Grave Creek to Big Bend (Near Foster Bar)|
|TRIP LENGTH:||6 days / 5 nights|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 12|
Experience the Pacific Northwest at its best along the shores of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. Your OARS hiking vacation covers up to 45 miles of trail along the Rogue River as it flows from its headwaters near Crater Lake National Park to the incomparable Oregon coastline. This uniquely active hiking departure includes all the beauty and comforts of a standard OARS trip on the Rogue, but gives you a new perspective, from above the river on the trail. Escorted by expert hiking guides, our guests carry only a small day pack, hiking from one riverside camp to the next. A delicious dinner with an eclectic selection of local wines greets you in the afternoon, and each night we’ll make camp on one of the many sandy beaches that line the river. Whether inside a tent or under the starry night sky, you’ll sleep soundly, serenaded by boisterous crickets and the rush of the passing river.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Each trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day Before Your Trip
We’ll meet at 6:00pm for a pre-trip meeting at the Galice Resort in Merlin, OR. The “resort” is an all in one gas station, small store, restaurant and lodge. An OARS guide will greet you on the front porch of the store/restaurant and direct you up the hill to the meeting location. If you somehow miss the OARS staff person, you can ask to be pointed in the right direction to the meeting at the counter inside the store. The pre-trip meeting is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and trip leader and ask any last-minute questions. Your trip leader will give you a thorough trip orientation and pass out waterproof river bags so that you can pack your belongings that evening. Your trip leader will also reconfirm the time to meet at Galice Resort the following morning to catch the transfer to the launch point.
You will be transferred from Galice Resort to our starting point at Grave Creek trailhead on the Rogue River. The support rafts will be waiting for us there. We will pack our lunch, load our gear onto the boats, and talk about trail safety. We will cover the first five miles of the trail, which is quite rocky. We’ll pass by Rainie Falls, a narrow zone of extremely durable amphobolite, an erosion-resistant material which has created the unique rapid. We’ll stop to check out Whiskey Creek cabin. We’ll set up camp next to Tyee rapids on a sandy beach. While the guides prepare dinner, you’ll have time to explore the wooded terrain, take a swim or just relax with a good book.
For the early risers in the group, hot coffee, tea and cocoa will be ready around 6:30 AM. A wake-up call comes shortly after, and breakfast is served. After you pack up your belongings, you’ll have some time to prepare your bagged lunch for the day while camp is broken down and the boats are loaded. We’ll hike nine miles with long, gradual climbs and steady descents. We’ll cross numerous creeks, including Russian Creek and Bronco Creek. Our breaks and lunch stops will usually be enjoyed alongside one of these beautiful creeks. We’ll make camp in the Horseshoe Bend/Meadow Creek area.
We have 10 miles to cover on the mostly flat trail. We’ll pass by historic Battle Bar, named after a fight between Colonel Kelsey’s Calvary on the north bank and a band of Takelma Indians on the south bank. We’ll also pass Zane Grey’s. We’ll overnight at Mule Creek Camp, named in the summer of 1852 when a company of soldiers from Fort Orford tried to open a trail along the Rogue. A member of the party later related that a Lt. R.S. Williamson rode a mule named John. When the mule was turned loose to graze near the stream, it wandered off and was not found despite a thorough search. Because of this incident, the stream was named John Mule Creek, but later shortened to Mule Creek. The tale ended happily several years later when Williamson found his mule.
We will have a well-deserved layover day around Mule Creek. We may hike up Mule Creek to visit a slot canyon and mining site. The terraces on both sides of the mouth of Mule Creek were seasonal Indian camps for over 8,000 years. A five-minute walk brings us to Rogue River Ranch. Once a major Rogue River Indian habitation site, the area has enjoyed a rich human history for over 9,000 years. We’ll visit the ranch museum to learn more about Native American and early white settlement in this area. Alternatively, you can get out your book, diary or sketchbook and spend some peaceful “alone-time” on the river bank. This is also a good time to fish, play cards or go for a swim.
We’ll hike another 10 miles and enjoy some of the most dramatic views yet. The trail is relatively flat as we pass through Mule Creek Canyon. We’ll pause at Inspiration Point, overlooking Stair Creek Falls. The trail is on a narrow ledge high on the ridge. Occasionally, hikers with vertigo struggle with this section. (If this may be an issue for you, please contact us.) Below we can see deep, cool pools where salmon gather in the summer. We’ll pass Blossom Bar, named after the wild azaleas that bloom here. We’ll enjoy lunch at the picnic tables at Paradise Lodge. There will be a chance to purchase a cold drink or perhaps ice cream from the lodge store if you wish. After lunch, our trail leads us through the lovely Huggins Canyon and enchanted Brushy Bar. Another two miles brings us to Camp Tacoma, named after a mining operation from Tacoma, Washington.
Leaving camp on the last day is bittersweet—we’re not quite ready for civilization again, but a hot shower sounds pretty nice. We have only six miles before we’ll reach the trail’s end. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive bald eagles that inhabit this section of the river canyon. We’ll pass Flora Dell Creek with its punchbowl waterfall that plunges over a 30-foot sheer wall into a deep trailside pool. We’ll then stretch our legs with a few switchbacks up over a hill and back down again before reaching the end of the trail. We will meet our driver and be transported less than a mile to Foster Bar, where the rafts will be waiting with our personal gear. We’ll pack up the vans and then relax for the scenic, 2-3 hour mountain drive back to Galice Resort. You should arrive before 6:00 PM.
Although the Rogue River Trail is only moderately strenuous overall; it is at times steep, rocky and narrow with exposed sections, and therefore it is not recommended for people who have a fear of heights or children under the age of 12 years. Please be prepared for full days of hiking, and be aware that gym workouts or flat land walking are generally easier than wilderness hiking.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on the final day, with limited beer & wine at dinner.
- 5 nights catered camping
- Two waterproof bags to hold your gear for the trip (approximate sealed size: 13” diameter x 25” tall). Your sleeping bag and pad must fit into one bag and your remaining gear will fit into the other bag. Please note: If you rent our gear it will come already packed in one of the two waterproof bags. Your remaining gear, therefore, must fit in one bag.
- Two-person tents on a shared basis (there is a $30 charge for a private tent)
- 12-ounce insulated Klean Kanteen with Café Lid to use for drinks in camp
- Camp chairs
- Eating utensils, cups and plates
- High-quality inflatable rafts for trip support
- Transfers from Galice Resort to the river and back
What’s Not Included?
- Transportation to and from Galice Resort
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Single supplement tent ($30)
- Sleeping bag & a deluxe 3-inch thick foam and air-filled sleeping pad (these items may be rented from OARS)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Items of personal nature (an equipment list will be provided)
Available For Rent
Please indicate on your guest registration form whether you want to rent a sleep kit or if you prefer to bring your own.
- Sleep Kit: Can be rented for $40 per person. Sleep kits consist of a sleeping bag, deluxe 3-inch thick foam and air-filled sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet, pillow and pillowcase.
- Sleeping Pad Only: The deluxe 3-inch thick foam and air-filled pad only may be rented for $15
- 2-Person Tent: We provide 2 person tents. It is assumed you will share this tent with another person. You can (if you prefer) have a tent to yourself for an additional charge of $30 per tent.
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
Beginning December 10, 2018, OARS will offer a travel protection plan that is administered by Arch Insurance Company.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
If you enrolled in a Trip Mate policy through OARS on or before December 9, 2018, the policy is still in place and will be administered by Trip Mate through the end date of your scheduled travel with OARS. All information provided in regards to the Trip Mate policy remains relevant. For a complete description of your Trip Mate policy, go online to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpF431Y or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan # F431Y).
☐ Reserve flights and/or shuttles: Verify with your adventure consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like for us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
The day before your trip we will meet at 6:00 PM at Galice Resort, in Merlin, OR for a pre-trip meeting. Your trip leader will provide a thorough trip orientation and pass out your waterproof bags so that you can pack your belongings that evening. The trip leader will also reconfirm the time for meeting at Galice Resort the following morning and give you an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.
Click here for a google map.
Getting to Galice Resort
Merlin is just northwest of Medford and Grants Pass. Take the Merlin exit (#61) just 3 miles north of the northern most Grants Pass exit (#58). Go west on Merlin-Galice Road for 15 ½ miles. You will cross a large, yellow bridge over the Rogue River about five miles before you reach Galice Resort. The entrance is on your right. The address is 11744 Galice Rd, Merlin, OR 97532. You may park your car at Galice Resort during your trip.
Mileage and Driving Times
|Medford to Merlin||37 miles (45 minutes)|
|Foster Bar take-out to Gold Beach||36 miles (1 hour)|
|Foster Bar take-out to Morrison’s||40 miles (2-3 hours)|
|Klamath Falls to Merlin||109 miles (2 hours)|
|Eugene to Merlin||135 miles (2½ hours)|
|Portland to Merlin||240 miles (4 hours)|
|Sacramento to Merlin||344 miles (6 hours)|
If you’re arriving by car, parking is available at Galice Resort.
OARS cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to vehicles or their contents.
We recommend flying into Medford, Oregon. United, Horizon / Alaska Airlines all fly into Medford. As an alternative, Portland International has more frequent flight options. There are several car rental companies located at both airports, or you may choose to take a shuttle from Medford to Galice Resort.
Galice Shuttle offers service from various locations in the area, including Medford Airport, to Galice Resort (our meeting place).
•Galice Shuttle Service (541) 476-3818
By Bus or Train
Greyhound services the Grants Pass area, while Amtrak only services Klamath Falls or Eugene, Oregon.
After Your Trip
On the final day of your river adventure, you will return to Galice Resort at approximately 6:00 PM.
Please note: If you are planning to visit the Oregon Coast following your trip, we recommend you have your car shuttled to the take-out location at Foster Bar so it is waiting for you when you get off the river. This will save you five or more hours of driving time and backtracking. For this option, you will need to arrange for your car to be transferred from Galice Resort to the take-out at Foster Bar so that you can continue heading west, to the coast, from there. You will arrive at Foster Bar between 2 and 3 PM. Galice Shuttle Service can arrange this car shuttle service for you. Please contact them directly to set up this option.
Please contact us before your trip to alert us that you have made arrangements to have your car shuttled to Foster Bar. Come prepared with a duplicate set of car keys.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost.
- Galice Resort (541) 476-3818
- Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge (800) 826-1963
- Rogue River Doubletree Ranch (541) 476-0120
- Buona Sera Inn (541) 476-4260
- Shilo Inn (541) 479-8391
- Best Western Inn (541) 582-2200
- Holiday Inn Express (541) 471-6144
- Indian Mary Campground (800) 452-5687
- Josephine County Parks (541) 474 5285
- Lake Selmac Resort (541) 597-2277
For additional activities, lodging and camping information, please contact the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce (541) 450-6180 or go to www.visitgrantspass.org.
After each active day on the trail, we will meet our gear boat at our camp for the evening. Upon arrival, individuals will collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to set up tents. The first night, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. The guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet.
As dinner is prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare a hot breakfast. After breakfast is served, we’ll pack lunches for the trail. Then, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boats and we’ll continue our trek to see what new adventures await us.
The meals we serve are hearty and delicious, complete with fresh ingredients and a variety of foods. A typical morning on a multi-day trip might start with French toast, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and coffee or tea. Lunch might be a delicious spread of cold cuts and cheeses with several types of bread, or pitas stuffed with veggies and hummus. There are always cookies and a cooling drink. At dinner, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine—sizzling steaks or salmon, chicken enchiladas, and delicious stir-fry dishes are all part of their repertoire. Dinner generally includes a salad, and desserts are frequent. Hors d’oeuvres are a pleasant surprise before many meals.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be a supplemental menu fee ranging from $5-25 per person per day to cover our costs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets without applying a fee. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu. Similarly, certain allergen-free snack foods are difficult or impossible to source in our locations, so feel free to bring your own favorite snacks to supplement our provisions. Please let your Adventure Consultant know if you intend to do so.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
We provide plenty of water throughout the trip. When at camp, we provide one soda per person per day along with a limited supply of beer and wine. You are welcome to bring your own favorite beverages, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, in non-glass containers. If you choose to bring additional beverages, please let us know in advance. For your safety and the safety of others, alcoholic beverages are limited camp.
We are obligated to adhere to the regulations established by the managing agency with jurisdiction over the area in which our trip operates. Use of marijuana on federal lands, whether it be medicinal or recreational, is illegal and therefore we ask that you refrain from bringing it with you on your OARS trip.
We carry sufficient drinking water along with us to provide for your needs throughout the trip. Water jugs are accessible in camp, at lunch and before hikes for filling personal water bottles. In some cases, we will resupply water jugs with river water filtered through a purification system we provide. (No iodine is used in the purification process.)
Be prepared to hike between 5-10 miles each day, under varying trail conditions. Most of the Rogue River Trail is well constructed and has moderate grades. The group will hit the trail each morning after a hearty breakfast and a bottomless cup of coffee or tea. During the day, you will need to carry your lunch, drinking water, camera gear, and spare clothing such as rain gear or long underwear, depending on weather conditions. All other gear will be shuttled down river, from camp to camp, by OARS crew in our rafts. We have one guide designated as trail lead on smaller trips and, on larger trips, we have one guide designated as trail lead and also one guide designated as trail sweep. We strongly encourage you to be aerobically fit, have comfortable, broken-in hiking shoes with socks, and bring a good pack.
The first five miles of day 1 on the Rogue River trail are quite rocky and require patience while you secure stable footing. Day 2 is a nine-mile hike involving long, gradual climbs and steady descents with numerous creek crossings. We will traverse a mostly flat, 10-mile trail on day 3. A well-deserved rest day comes on the fourth day. Day 5 involves another 10-mile hike with spectacular views of the river and a stop at Paradise Lodge. The last day of the journey involves a six mile hike and a shuttle back to Galice Resort.
For those not wishing to hike the entire trail, riding along in the gear boat is a potential option for guests who much prefer the rafting portion of this trip. If you have a member of your group who is not an avid hiker, please let us know as soon as possible so we can accommodate.
The Rogue River Trail has some thick sections of poison oak. If you are highly allergic, please plan to wear long pants for extra protection. Bring soap or Tecnu to wash away the plant’s poisonous oils that may be left on your skin or clothing from accidental contact with this plant. Depending on the spring weather and amount of trail maintenance that the BLM/FS has done, there may be sections of trail where contact with poison oak is unavoidable.
The Rogue is a fisherman’s paradise. There are four species of trout that live in the Rogue, though only steelhead is commonly seen on our trips. Two species of salmon also make their way up the Rogue to spawn in their place of birth. Chinook salmon can be seen fighting the rapids in the spring and again in the fall. The Coho, also known as the silver salmon, makes a fall run only. Generally, water temperatures are too warm for fishing in June, July, and August. The most abundant seasonal period on the Rogue is from September through mid-November, which offers some of the West’s best fly-fishing.
You’ll need to bring your own gear; please bring your rod protected in a hard case. Anyone over the age of 12 who is fishing (or is helping someone under the age of 12 to fish) must have a valid Oregon fishing license with steelhead and salmon tags. You may purchase an adult, three-day angling license, which includes the combined angling tags for salmon and steelhead for $54.50. To find out more about the fishing licenses available, please visit: https://myodfw.com/fishing/licensing-info
For Oregon fishing regulations, please visit: http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/fishing/license-information/
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty regarding personal hygiene. To minimize our environmental impact, we carry out all solid human waste. Each day at camp, we set up a portable toilet system in a discrete location away from the tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing, and it’s available each afternoon from the time you pull into camp until you leave camp the next day. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
Along the Rogue River Trail there are a few places that have public pit toilets available for use. We also carry a small container called the “day tripper,” which can be easily accessed during the day should the need arise. It is a personal disposable toilet, which includes an odor-proof transport bag, chemical solidifier and odor eliminator, toilet paper and an oversized hand wipe.
On popular stretches of wilderness rivers, a commonly heard refrain is “dilution is the solution to pollution.” We practice this approach by urinating in the river during the day. At camp, we provide pee buckets so that during the night, urination can occur in a secluded location and then be dumped into the river current, where it will be carried downstream.
Bathing is allowed in the Rogue River, but not in any of the side streams that feed into the river. We recommend using the smallest amount possible of liquid biodegradable soap such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s, which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section. Disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) are good alternatives to submersion in the river, and they are especially convenient for spring and fall trips.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. We recommend you bring some sandwich-size Ziploc™ bags. These bags can be used to store feminine products during the day while you are on the river and can be disposed of when you reach camp. (For tampon users: o.b. ® tampons are ⅓ the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping.) Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
While on the trail, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for extra protection. We strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries, and any other extras you will need. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
We are not able to provide a power source for recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel.
Once you are on the river, there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation on the river or trail. They can call out, but we cannot call them. The trip leader will periodically check in with our office. If someone needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home, you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Fire activity frequently impacts the air quality on our trips, and occasionally wildfires may be present in the immediate vicinity of where we’re traveling. Smoke impacts are more likely in the latter-half of the summer season, so those with asthma or other respiratory conditions may wish to steer clear of this time frame. In general, we will not cancel a trip on account of smoky conditions, except in cases of clear danger to life or property. Necessary changes to logistics and/or destination may occur with very short notice as fire conditions are constantly changing. We will do our best to keep you apprised of excessively smoky conditions that can be foreseen for your upcoming trip, but we also encourage you to stay informed about local fire activity: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
Our standard cancellation terms & conditions apply, should you choose to cancel due to environmental conditions resulting from a wildfire near to where our trip operates. Please review our Terms & Conditions section in this document, below. Furthermore, we recommend you consider investing in a comprehensive Travel Protection Plan that provides you the ability to “cancel for any reason”, should you feel conditions from a nearby wildfire may result in you canceling your reservation.
Our guides do not carry firearms on our trips, and in most cases are prohibited from doing so by the managing agency. As a matter of preference, we ask all our guests to kindly leave your own firearms at home or in your vehicle.
Weather & Water Conditions
The weather in Southern Oregon is quite favorable during the summer months. The days are long and typically dry, making for a pleasant journey. However, the weather in Southern Oregon is often unpredictable. Early and late season trips can bring a wider range of temperatures, and one should always be prepared for rain. Being properly prepared for weather variations is an important factor in fully enjoying your trip.
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend the following website for weather in Galice, Oregon: www.wunderground.com.
Average Air and Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F||Air (Night) °F||Water °F|
Essential Eligibility Criteria for River Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS river trip.
- Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
- Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
- Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
- Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
- Ability to independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
- Ability to swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
- Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
- Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
- Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
- Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense, and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer. Your odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. On class IV and greater whitewater, the probability that you will become a non-voluntary swimmer is significant. A swim in whitewater is much more difficult and physically draining than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. This can be overcome by focusing on your breathing and calming yourself down. Swimming in cold water will also much more quickly sap your energy and decrease muscle function than swimming in warmer water. While our guides are highly trained and will do their absolute best to rescue you, a successful rescue is greatly hampered by a swimmer who is unprepared for a swim in whitewater, who fails to actively participate in their own rescue, and who is not able to follow directions while under stress. You will receive a detailed orientation talk at the start of your river trip, but you can get a better idea of what to expect by watching a version of an orientation talk here: http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: https://www.oars.com/video/pack-river-rafting-trip/
During the day – Start with sunscreen, shorts or long pants (convertible pants are great), and long-sleeved shirt. Add additional layers of synthetic or merino wool long underwear, socks, rain pants and rain jacket depending on the time of year and weather. In the morning it can be cool. As the day warms up, layers can be taken off and stored in your day pack.
In camp – After a long day on the trail you may want to refresh and change into clean, comfortable clothing. Soft, loose-fitting shorts or pants, t-shirts, etc., will allow you to truly relax in the evening. For spring and fall trips, you will want to have something dry and warm, such as long sleeved shirts, pants and fleece.
During the day – Footwear will make or break your trip. For daily wear on the trail, you will want a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots with good support and soles.
In camp – a second pair of shoes or sandals to change into at camp will give your feet a break from your trail shoes. As many hikers like to bathe at camp, consider river sandals as your camp shoes. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
Please note: If you plan to buy footwear for the trip, make sure you get it far enough in advance to break it in and wear your footwear until it’s comfy—if your feet hurt, you won’t enjoy the trip!
During the day – Wide-brimmed hats or ball caps are a good choice for sun protection.
In camp – When the weather is cool or cold, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet, dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your day pack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
You need to be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double up on your synthetic layers so that you’ll have a set to wear on the trail and a set of warm, dry clothes for camp.
Raingear protects you from rain and wind. It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended, as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD (Personal Flotation Device) if you need to ride on the raft for any reason.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
You can either bring your own sleeping bag, pad and ground tarp, or you can rent our sleep kit. If you are purchasing your own bag for the trip, keep in mind that a synthetic-fill bag rated to 20°F (the normal range for an all-around, “three-season” bag) is recommended for early and late season trips.
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Sleeping bag, pad, sheet liner, small pillow, 5×7-foot tarp. Sleep kits including these items may be rented for $40. (For trips in May/early-June, we suggest a synthetic-fill bag rated to 20°F)
☐ Backpack/Hydration pack: it should be large enough to carry water, lunch, camera, and rain gear, as well as a warm layer of clothing (750–2000 in3 recommended)
☐ Two 1-liter water bottles
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ Toiletries, including soap and shampoo (preferably biodegradable)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities
☐ Hiking boots or light hikers
☐ Comfortable shoes and/or river shoes (such as those made by Chaco®) for camp)
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirt and pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap – flexible enough to wear underneath your helmet
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant). A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended.
☐ Swimsuit; a two-piece is recommended for women for changing and using the restroom. Tankinis are a great option.
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops: 1-2
☐ Synthetic or merino wool long underwear: 1 set top & bottom (light-, mid- or expedition-weight depending on the time of year, weather, location)
☐ Jacket: fleece or down/synthetic fill puffy (depending on the time of year, weather, location)
☐ Camp clothes: comfortable and appropriate for season. Cotton recommended for hot weather trips
☐ Walking stick or trekking poles
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Solar shower
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Small day pack, waist pack or hydration pack for side hikes
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your bag
☐ Large empty bag: laundry bag, pillow case or similar for putting clothes into after your trip
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Splash jacket and pants
☐ Lightweight cord and clothespins for drying clothes
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into a raft)
☐ Female Urinary Device (for women only)
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Packing Your Gear
At the pre-trip meeting, each person will be given two large waterproof bags (approximate sealed size: 25” tall x 13” diameter; 3318 cu in; 54.4 L). One bag will be for your clothing and personal items. The second bag will be for your sleeping gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet and pillow). These two bags will essentially be your “checked luggage” and will only be accessible in camp. Tents are stowed separately. Please note: If you rent a sleep kit from us, it will come pre-packed in one of the two waterproof bags. This pre-packed bag will already be loaded onto a raft and will not be available to you at the time you are issued your second waterproof bag.
When we leave Galice Resort, we head straight to the trailhead to begin our day’s hike. You will bring your daypack with you on the trail; your waterproof bag will be loaded directly onto a raft. Your personal, now mostly empty, luggage can be stowed in your vehicle for the remainder of the trip.
Please pack light; river attire is very casual. Comfort, convenience and boat space takes precedence over style. At the end of the trip you will return to Galice Resort with your packed waterproof bags where you will be able to unpack your gear for your return trip home.
If you have extra luggage, it should be locked in your car or stored at your hotel.
We recommend you leave your valuables at home. For personal items like wallets, purses and cell phones, we recommend leaving them in your car.
Tipping is optional, but appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 10 – 15% of the trip cost. It is customary on OARS trips for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader in the form of cash or personal check, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $1/person/day donation to American Rivers, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to Wild and Scenic Rivers. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to American Rivers, and your contribution is tax-deductible. This donation is voluntary and may be removed from your invoice if you choose not to participate. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $400/person deposit is required at the time of booking. Deposits may be made by check, money order or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Receipt of the initial deposit signifies acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency. Cancelling your trip will incur cancellation fees because holding spots for you means we are likely turning others away who would like to book the trip. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days prior to the departure date will be cancelled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more prior to the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We do not make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including weather, wildfire, terrorism, civil unrest or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early.
Date of Cancellation Cancellation Fee
180 or more days prior to your trip $50/person
179 – 90 days prior to your trip $100/person
89 – 60 days prior to your trip $400/person, balance available as a limited-time trip credit
59 days or less prior to your trip Full Fare*
*If we are able to fill the trip and replace the cancelled passengers, the fee will be reduced to $100/person.
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation e-mail for details.
If you transfer from one trip to another within the same season, there is a $25/person fee up until 90 days prior to departure. You may choose to make a one-time transfer of your payments to a credit account for use during the following season, which incurs a $50/person fee up until 90 days prior to departure. Transfers made after this time will be treated as cancellations.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an OARS trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
If you enrolled in a Trip Mate policy through OARS on or before December 9, 2018, the policy is still in place and will be administered by Trip Mate through the end date of your scheduled travel with OARS. All information provided in regards to the Trip Mate policy remains relevant. For a complete description of your Trip Mate policy, go online to: http://www.tripmate.com/wpF431Y or call Trip Mate at 800-888-7292 (reference Plan # F431Y).
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. West, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 4 people), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc.