Remember the 1980s television sitcom Cheers – where everybody knows your name? Marial Lodge in Southern Oregon is the Rogue River’s answer to Cheers if you are a river guide. That’s right, river guides are revered at this family owned and operated rustic lodge on the lower part of the Rogue. When you walk into the dining room you can’t miss the rows of brightly colored coffee mugs hanging from hooks on the wood-covered wall. Of course the guides have to earn their cup at Marial. It’s a right of passage, like when we all hoist our paddles into the air and high five each other after successfully maneuvering our river raft through a challenging rapid. Yes, the coffee cups made a lasting impression on me during our four day Lodge to Lodge Rafting Trip with Row Adventures.
Marial Lodge has been around since the 1960’s and is named after the original proprietor Marial Billings Akesson. There is no website for the lodge. You’ll have to telephone owners Lori and Pat Cameron or send them an e-mail if you’d like to stay at this off-the-grid, rustic lodge, or book through a Rogue River Outfitter. The place has had several owners during its lifetime and experienced an upgrade in its connection with the outside world.
Back in the early 1960’s mail was taken from the lodge near Agness via horseback, mule or boat as there were no roads in the area. After the historic flood of 1964, roads were created to reach the lodge. About this time a new owner, Ted Camp, bought the lodge. Both Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge and Marial Lodge were impacted by the raging flood waters. Yet some things remain the same. This lodge is one of several on the Wild and Scenic Rogue that operates through a special permitting process from the government. It’s quite special to stay here, out in the middle of nowhere. You can camp along the Rogue River, too, but I prefer a hot shower and someone else to cook for me after a day on the river.
Pat and Lori are wonderful hosts, as is their chocolate German Shorthaired Pointer, Riley. They may not know everyone’s names, but they treat you like family and feed you well. We had cold lemonade waiting for us inside the lodge and we could also hang out on the deck, overlooking the river below. Most of us opted to retreat to our rooms to take advantage of warm showers and change into clean, dry clothes. Dinner was served, family-style promptly at 6:30 p.m. Lazy Susan’s held platters of pork spare ribs, corn casserole, bread and ice cream crunch finished off the meal. In the morning, a hearty breakfast was served, along with a bottomless cup of coffee.
I confess that one of my favorite things about Marial Lodge was the homemade cookies that Lori sent with us in our picnic lunch the next day. Simple pleasures are worth remembering when you are out and about enjoying nature. So when you want to spend some time on the Rogue River, consider a stay at Marial Lodge. As noted, there is no website for booking a room online. Instead, I suggest you book a vacation through a river outfitter. Four day lodge to lodge rafting trips average around $2,750 per person, all-inclusive of lodging, guides, activities and all meals, as well as beer and wine for those of legal drinking age. Single supplement and youth pricing is available, as well.
Contact Marial Lodge at (541) 474-2057 or (541) 471-3262 May – November only
P.O. Box 1395, Grants Pass, OR 97528
Review and photos by Nancy D. Brown who was a guest of Row Adventures for review purposes.