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Paddling’s Greatest Getaways

16 wild ways to find backcountry solitude and big-time scenery. All this, and you can bring the ice chest, too.

©Tom Till

{Oregon}

Top Wilderness Whitewater

Feisty rapids and quiet camping await on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River.

Running whitewater rivers is like drinking wine: For the perfect experience, you want neither too much nor too little. The Rogue’s forgiving rapids guarantee the perfect buzz, delivering full-bodied fun but dialing down the spin cycle just enough to suit beginners. The 35-mile run bisects a lush wilderness of fir forests and azalea and rhododendron thickets. Secluded riverside campsites at places like Whiskey Creek and Battle Bar offer ringside seats to watch the Rogue’s legendary menagerie: ospreys, bald eagles, bears, otters, steelhead, and other wildlife. Allow time for hiking the parallel Rogue River Trail and for a detour to the smooth-rock water slide at Tate Creek. If you’ve got the paddling chops for Class II-IV rapids, secure a river permit and do it yourself (rentals and shuttles: wildrogue.com). Prefer a guide? Rafting hedonism goes upscale with Wilderness River Journeys, which adds classical music and wine tasting to its 5-day September trip ($925, www.riverjourneys.com/rogue.html).

Get there From Galice, OR, take Galice Road 3 miles to the Rand BLM office to pick up the required permit, then continue 5 miles to the put-in at Grave Creek. The take-out is at Foster Bar Landing, off Forest Route 33.

Season May through October; upstream dams allow for a long boating season. Check flows for the Rogue and other rivers at water.usgs.gov/waterwatch.

Difficulty Moderate. It’s Class II-IV, but at average flows even beginners paddle the Rogue in inflatable kayaks.

Contact Bureau of Land Management, (541) 479-3735; www.or.blm.gov/rogueriver. To run it this year: Call for permit cancellations and open slots in the fall. Next year: Apply for private permits after November 15, 2005.

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