Will and Julie Volpert have led white water rafting trips on Southern Oregon’s Rogue and Klamath rivers for over a decade for their company Indigo Creek Outfitters, out of the small town of Talent, Oregon. The rafting season, which extends from May to September, is a perfect time to be out on the river where snowpack-fed cold water provides respite from the region’s hot summer.
Or it would be perfect, if wildfire smoke weren’t a looming concern.
“We’ve been in operation here since 2011, and almost every year there’s some smoke that comes in and is noticeable on our trips,” Will Volpert said in an interview. If people have flexibility, he recommends that they schedule a trip before the third week of July when the likelihood of smoke in the air is lower.
Customers frequently cancel in late July and August because of the smoke, especially for day trips. Federal data shows air quality tends to be more than four times worse on average in Jackson County, Oregon, during this period than earlier in the summer.