Chetco River – Trip Report

Looking down at the Chetco from above - bright kayaks surrounded by crystal, emerald green water

I’ve always considered the Illinois to be the big brother of the Rogue. Last month, I discovered their little sister – The Chetco. This gem of a river is definitely feminine – it’s deeply beautiful and graceful. Crystal clear, emerald green water slips slowly downstream and through a gorgeous environment filled with a plethora of wildlife and hillsides adorned with all manner of towering pines and lush plant life.

Unfortunately, the river’s beauty is at risk due to the threat of mining operations. The proposed mining activity would significantly affect the water quality, fish habitat, wildlife presence and overall environmental health. The threat is so severe that in 2010, American Rivers named the Chetco one of America’s most endangered rivers. There has been significant attention and legislation dedicated to protecting the Chetco, and that is why Team Sundance journeyed to Southern Oregon to see this river for ourselves. We wanted to experience and document the beauty of this river; and we did.

I have never seen water so clear or an environment so pristine. Considering that I’ve rafted all over, including international destinations, that’s saying something. The Chetco deserves all of the adoration she can get. I would easily call this a a trip of a lifetime – 4 guys (3 kayakers + 1 Alpaca rafter), a gorgeous river seldom run and a canyon full of promise.

Check out the photos below. For the full trip report, check out our sister company, Northwest Rafting Company’s blog. For the latest information on protecting the Chetco, look at the Save Our Chetco Blog.

Taking a break during the hike in - too bad Billy didn't have a kayak to lean on.

Since the Chetco is Wild and Scenic, no motors are allowed in the area - this is one of the leftovers.

Some of the bountiful plant life in the area - wild iris'

Andy and JR amidst one of the many picteresque backgrounds

Rafting with a kayak paddle... in an Alpaca and a kayak

Faint pink flowers sit against the background of the Chetco

Pulling a bit of whitewater in the Alpaca


About Team Sundance

Sundance Kayak School was started on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon way back in 1973! And was created for one very specific reason: to teach whitewater kayaking. Sundance Kayak School is dedicated to sharing the love of rivers and paddle sports through Education, Involvement and Enjoyment.