Starting near Crater Lake, the Rogue River flows approximately 215 miles, winding through the Siskiyou National Forest until it finally empties into the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach. Midway on the river is a little town called Merlin that is mostly known as the starting point for many Rogue rafting trips. While you can hook up with a variety of rafting and kayaking outfits to take you down river why not turn your time in Southern Oregon into a getaway experience that combines time on the river and a stay at the idyllic and rustic Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge.
Sitting on about 30-acres of land, the lodge overlooks the scenic river and a massive groomed, green lawn that entices children to run and play in sprinklers and adults to relax and enjoy the views from the row of andriondak chairs that sit riverside. Built in 1946 as a fishing lodge, today it offers both fishing and whitewater rafting trips. A full service resort, Morrison’s offers four rooms in the main lodge as well as larger cottages on the same property.
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When staying at Morrison’s, breakfast and dinner are included. If you are wise enough to sign up for the full day river rafting trip with sister company, Rogue River Raft Trips, lunch is also provided. The food at Morrison’s from breakfast to lunch or dinner is a treat. Executive Chef, Bruno Jappert who trained in Switzerland and has worked as chef at many fine hotel restaurants creates memorable and delicious gourmet cuisine.
Begin your day with adelectable breakfast in the dining room or on the deck overlooking the lawn and river. Start with coffee or tea, fresh fruit and pastries. Included in breakfast is a daily special or eggs any way you like. I tried the special during my stay; a hash with potatoes, steak, onion, cheese and scrambled eggs. Delicious!
After breakfast, head just outside the front of the lodge to gear up with a vest for your full day rafting trip. After a quick introduction and a short drive up river to the raft launch point you are at the boat launch and ready to go. Our trip was on an oar-boat where the guide does the work of moving the raft down river. Rafters are welcome to grab an oar and paddle or sit back and enjoy the scenery. The river offers mainly class 1 to 2+ rapids and lots of placid waters for floating.
While a few of the 2+ rapids are certainly a thrill, it isn’t a non-stop ride through rapids, making it perfect for the whole family or those who just want to see the amazing beauty of this river and experience the dramatic highlight of passing through Hellgate Canyon.
For a more hands on experience opt for navigating the river on an inflatable kayak. Rogue River Raft Trips offers several kayaks on each rafting trip and it is a totally different way to spend part or all of the day. Those choosing to travel by kayak navigate close by as the raft makes its way down the river, so the guide can help out at any time.[img_assist|nid=1075|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=178]
A true hands on portion of the trip are the water guns each rafter or kayaker receives. Depending on your group and the temperature-it can be a major or minor part of the experience. My group was comprised of mainly families with kids including my seven year old son and if we weren’t heading down a rapid they were on guard with their water guns.
At the half way point, you’ve made your way back to Morrison’s for lunch. Menu requests are taken before the morning departure, so stroll up the beautiful lawn to the awning covered outdoor deck and relax. Order a beer and wait for lunch to be served. I opted for the White Bean, Fennel and Tomato Salad with Grilled Tuna and Garlic anchovy Aioli. It was delicious and I am still crossing my fingers that Chef Jappert will share his recipe.
After lunch, it’s back on the river for a few more hours of fun in the sun, playing with water guns and of course white water rafting. While making your way through some of the calm waters you’ll have a chance to do some swimming. Also along the way will be plenty of chances to see wildlife such as ducks and ducklings, river otters, deer, hawks, eagles and osprey.
Following the day on the river, you’ll have several hours back at Morrison’s to explore the grounds, swim in the pool, take a ride with one of their complimentary bikes or head back to your room or cottage for a nap before dinner.
The lodge offers one dinner seating, at 7pm each evening during their season. The bell is rung at 6:45 and all guests as well as local’s looking for a delicious dinner make their way to the outdoor deck for a four-course dinner. Dinner begins with an appetizer or soup, followed by salad and the lodge’s legendary orange rolls. The main course is a choice of two entrees or a combo plate of both. And of course, a delectable dessert.
In between courses, children scamper onto the five acres of river front lawn and dig into the chest of toys. All of a sudden there are mock soccer games, Frisbees flying and smash ball games happening. Parents and guests watch the children play as they sip wine or cocktails and watch the fireflies dance as the sun make its way down in the sky.
Morrison’s somehow creates an environment that feels old fashioned but totally welcoming. As the evening proceeds it’s hard to imagine saying goodnight to such a perfect day.
Helpful Hints: For River Rafting wear a bathing suit or clothes that dry quickly, bring sun block, water shoes and a hat that ties under your chin.