A girl stands frozen at the edge of a cliff 35 feet above the Klamath River. A group of friends, each of whom has already made the exhilarating plunge into the water, shouts words of encouragement. Slowly, the girl releases her fear and jumps from the cliff's edge, spending a few seconds in midair before splashing safely into the river and experiencing a feeling of great peace and accomplishment. For the staff of Kidder Creek Rafting Trips, it has been a decades-long journey in their effort to bring moments like these to life. In 1976, Richard Jones founded the nonprofit Christian organization, setting up shop in Scott Valley amid the Marble Mountain Wilderness region. Initially a horse camp, the organization grew over the years to include more adventurous activities such as rock climbing or the less-popular rock leaning. Despite the growth, the business has always retained its primary focus: to help young people step out of their comfort zones, experience new things, and grow in their faith. More than 35 years later, the horse camp still welcomes kids into its classrooms, onto its trails, and into the arena to practice horse gymnastics. Rafting guides, all of whom have completed Kidder Creek's guide program, lead exhibitions down the Klamath River's scenic waters, which are sprinkled with class III and IV rapids. These experts occasionally pause to play rafting games, hike to waterfalls, and exchange family photos with Bigfoot while encouraging others to try new things.
Though Will Volpert founded Indigo Creek Outfitters in 2011, his river-touring experience began much earlier. As a kid, his parents ran an outfitting business in Salmon, Idaho, where salmon guides would stay with them for the summer. During six-day rafting trips, he learned the ways of river culture and fell in love with fishing and navigating rapids. Today, he shares his expertise with families of all experience levels, leading whitewater trips on the Rogue River and building custom vacations in Oregon and Idaho. For a bit of local flavor, the staff also organizes walking tours of local restaurants and tastings at nanobreweries.
Over its 155-mile path from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, the Rogue River alternates between slow-flowing Class I water to roiling, Class IV rapids that challenge even experienced paddlers. Rogue Rafting Co. is situated mere steps from the dynamic watercourse, making it easy for paddlers of all ages and abilities to go exploring by raft or kayak.
Professional river guides lead tours that range from three-hour forays to multi-day camping trips. Though they challenge guests to brave the Class IV Nugget Falls and Power House rapids, they consider passengers’ comfort paramount. To that end, they welcome nervous guests to jump ashore, walk around the more challenging rapids, and then rejoin the group on the other side. Additionally, guides can customize tours to suit groups’ interests, whether it be tackling the most difficult rapids or taking time to spot eagles, osprey, and nomadic watercolor painters who roost along the shore.
Just off Redwood Highway, some of the world's most impressive predators?none of whom are native to the Northwest?prowl 10 acres of grassland. The Siskiyou Mountains may surround us, but clearly we're not in Oregon anymore.
Okay, technically Great Cats World Park is still part of Cave Junction, but its residents (affectionately called feline ambassadors) come from all over Planet Earth?the African savanna, the mountains of North America, and the deepest parts of the South American jungles. More than a dozen species of rare and endangered felines live on the park grounds, and these cats carry a responsibility as big as their paws: to educate the public on the importance of wildlife conservation. The spectacle of a 500-pound predator certainly makes a compelling case, even when it's not wearing its glasses.
Scooby, a white tiger, currently weighs in as the park's biggest resident. Tours take park visitors right up to the enclosures of these and other big cats, where keepers try to bring out the cats' natural and instinctive behaviors. Other species, such as the Ocelot and the clouded leopard, are smaller in size but no less majestic in stature?especially to any mice asking for permission to squeak freely. A new snow leopard now calls the park home, as well.
Whether they climb through trees or prowl the savannah, the cats here have all grown accustomed to life in the public eye. Professional photographers often document the animals at the park, and many of the cats have been featured on TV programs such as The Late Show with David Letterman.
For nearly 40 years, Dick Troon tried his hand at winemaking. The early years were filled with a whole lot of trial and error, and not every bottle was particularly successful. But his innovation and stubbornness eventually payed off, resulting in immensely robust and successful varietals. It was because if his spirit and undiscouraged sense of optimism that the winemakers at Troon Vineyard have such vast insight into the viticulture of the Southern Oregon land where their grapes grow fat on the vine?and probably one of the reasons they've amassed so many awards and accolades.
In 2003, Troon handed over the the winery to a friend and fishing companion, Larry Martin, who to this day oversees operations and who reinvented the vineyard and tasting rooms that stand today. The wines produced there range from the ripe, clean Zinfandel?crafted from grapes originally planted by Troon back in 1972?to the robust, smoky notes of dark cherry and caramelized oak of the Estate Syrah. These wines can be sampled and purchased at both of the two tasting rooms, where the wine-savvy staff educates visitors on varietals, good pairings, and the best wine to drink before a first date.