Rolling on the river once again

MEDFORD, Ore. — As temperatures rise outside this time of year, summer activities like rafting and boating come to mind, but coronavirus has put a damper on recreation-based businesses.

Right now the geese are making the most noise and waves on the Rogue River in Grants Pass.

Usually this time of year, it’s the blue Hellgate jet boats riding the river, but they haven’t been able to start up yet.

“I know the hotels, the restaurants, the gas stations, the gift shops, they’re all wondering what we’re doing. As long as we can open safely and ensure everyone’s safety, that’s what we’re going to do,” Hellgate Jetboat Excursions president, Travis Hamlyn, said.

Once visitors can load the boats again, you can expect a different kind of experience because of Governor Kate Brown’s rules regarding physical distancing and large groups.

“Folks might have a more exclusive experience on our boats, which is kind of a fun experience you won’t normally get. we’re also looking at different kinds of tours so people can get out and maybe enjoy a shorter run,” Hamlyn said.

For people who want a quieter experience, rafting companies typically open up shop this time of year, but co-owner of Rapid Pleasure Rafting in Shady Cove, Devon Stephenson, says they’re unsure of what the summer turnout will be.

“It’s typical. It’s about as busy as we are this time of year. We probably won’t be doing huge groups and things like that, which is a big part of our business, so things will change,” Stephenson said.

Rapid Pleasure is now open and had to rapidly make several changes to its guest experience to limit spacing and disinfect vehicles and equipment.

“We’re really just adding steps to our rhythm. It’s just going to be a matter of communicating and just getting into a rhythm and it shouldn’t be too much of a problem,” Stephenson said.

Hellgate Jetboats hopes to open by June first with limited riders on the tours.

Check its website and Facebook page for updates on how and when to order tickets.

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NBC5 News weather forecaster Aaron Nilsson is a Southern California native, but most recently lived in Seattle. He's also lived in Sweden and Utah. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors Degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Scandinavian Studies. While at BYU, he covered sports for BYUtv. Aaron is not new to the Medford/Klamath Falls market. He was a local TV journalist from 2013-2017. Outside the station, Aaron enjoys music, traveling, sports, movies, and cooking. His favorite sport is soccer.
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