Bill Cross – American Whitewater

Bill Cross wears many hats. He’s an author (Western Whitewater), a whitewater instructor, and registered nurse. He lives in Ashland, Oregon and has been running the Rogue River since 1977. He does volunteer river conservation work for American Whitewater, a non-profit group that works to protect rivers and preserve opportunities for whitewater recreation. With AW, he’s helped open whitewater runs on the Upper Rogue River, high in the Cascade Range, far upstream from the Lower Rogue Canyon run. He is also currently working to open up new runs on the Klamath River.

The Interview

What is your connection to the Rogue River?

I used to guide on the Rogue, but now I’m a recreational boater and a river conservation volunteer.

How long have you been recreating or working on the Rogue?

Pretty much since dinosaurs roamed the earth — my first Rogue trip was way back in 1977.

What are your favorite qualities of the Rogue River?

I love the gentleness of the place. It’s a very friendly and welcoming river.

Favorite places on the Rogue?

Mule Creek Canyon, without a doubt. I wish it were longer! It’s such an exotic stretch of river, and the rock walls are beautiful. There’s no place quite like it.

Is there a sense of community on the Rogue?

Definitely. The Rogue attracts a lot of devoted “regulars” — both recreational boaters and guides — who just can’t seem to get enough of the place. They know every camp and riffle, and they have a very strong ethic for protecting the river and its canyon. I always run into people I know down there.

Has the Rogue River changed you?

The Rogue is where I first got the whitewater bug. In fact, if it weren’t for this river, I might never have discovered rivers and rapids, which are my life’s passion.

What is the personality of the Rogue?

Above all I think the Rogue is fun and forgiving. It’s a great place for families and first-timers to try out whitewater — to get a little excitement without a total white-knuckle ride.

Do you have an example?

Well, back in 1977, as a customer on a commercial trip I actually ran Blossom Bar in an innertube. Needless to say, nobody would let me do that today! It wasn’t smart, but it was definitely memorable! I was just a dumb 18-year-old kid who didn’t know any better.

Any last words?

The Rogue is where my lifetime passion for rivers began, and for that I am eternally grateful to the place.