The 600-acre park plays host to visitors who drive through the more than four miles of winding grounds to catch up-close glimpses of its inhabitants—over 550 wild animals from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Bison, zebras, and giraffes roam the wide-open surroundings, living in harmony with tigers, lions, and bears. Founded by Frank Hart in 1972, the park has helped to protect endangered species while educating the public about them and their important roles in the fragile ecosystem. Visitors can make arrangements for private and personalized animal encounters as well as visit the safari village zoo, botanical gardens, and gift shop.
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.
Jerry's Rogue Jets does not take river tours lightly. The company employs a staff of Coast Guard-certified jet-boat pilots who navigate tours through the federally protected Rogue River Canyon. The route includes a turbulent, 12-mile stretch that the company has exclusive commercial access to. Each of the company's voyages takes place on a boat custom made by Wayne Adams, a direct descendant of the Adams family that homesteaded the canyon in the 19th century. Once they board the boats, passengers embark on one of three round-trip tours that aim to integrate adventure, nature, and comical, unscripted narration.
The calmer 64-mile Historic Mail Route follows a path that Jerry's mail boats still use to deliver mail each day. The 80-mile Whitewater Excursion and 104-mile Wilderness Whitewater adventures extend into more tumultuous waters. All of the tours—which throughout the years have attracted guests such as Jimmy Carter, Meryl Streep, and Clark Gable—include a 90-minute meal stop to keep passengers from filing their teeth until they are sharp enough to eat river rocks.