A good way to conquer any challenge is by tying its shoelaces together while its back is turned and pushing it into a mud puddle. Do more than distract the river's current with today's Groupon to Orange Torpedo Trips in Merlin. Choose between the following options:
- For $44, you get a one-day raft trip on the Rogue River (an $89 value). Trips begin at 10 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m.
- For $39, you get a half-day class IV raft trip on the Rogue River (a $79 value). Half-day trips leave daily at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Since the late 1960s, the stalwart staff of experts at Orange Torpedo Trips has been teaching ready rafters and kayakers to propel themselves down the Rogue River. All rowers—from the fully seasoned to raw oysters—can thrive on the full-day trip, which takes them through multiple class II rapids, either paddling on their own or with a guide. The itinerary begins at 10 a.m., when up to 45 paddle pushers gather at the Rogue River Center for a life-jacket fitting before arriving at the put-in and choosing from three watercrafts: the Orange Torpedo kayak, the group-operated paddle raft, or the guide-propelled oared raft, which allows riders the most scene-gazing time. After a brief dinghy debriefing, the ride takes rafts through wave trains more thrilling than the tilt-a-whirl, yet manageable as a robot-dog. During a midday stop, the river gurus prepare an on-shore lunch of fresh fruit and a sandwich or salad.
The half-day trip begins when river-runners 12 and older either arrive at the Rogue River Center or are picked up at their Medford or Grant’s Pass hotel ready to go in adventure-appropriate clothing. Vans escort up to 24 oar-shovers to orientation at the put-in, where they're fitted for helmets and life jackets, as well as wetsuits or splash tops if desired. After stowing cameras and delicate antique autograph books in the dry bag, water-wingers warm up with class I and II challenges before battling more rowdy rapids, culminating in class IV matchups against Nugget Falls, where paddlers navigate a narrow chute and two large holes, and Powerhouse, which includes a thrilling 8–10-foot drop. Half-day trips include a snack so fervent fishers can leave the spears at home.
The Rogue River offers plenty of chances to admire native flora and fauna, including bald eagles, ospreys, and confused bunny-ear-clad deer. Rafters are discouraged from wearing cotton clothing; a swimsuit, shorts-and-shirt outfit, or cutoff superhero leotard is recommended, along with sports sandals or hard-soled wetsuit booties. Other recommended accoutrements include a carabiner-attachable water bottle, waterproof sunscreen, and strapped sunglasses.