We Take Fun Seriously – Kokopelli River Guides

Call up your friends, get out your sun screen, it’s time to head down to Kokopelli for summer rafting, fun, and adventures! Whether you are escaping with your family for a nice day trip, taking your inlaws down the Upper Klamath,or just spending time with old friends. You can’t beat fun in the sun, while rafting down a cool river.

This month I spoke with Leslie and Matt Dopp of Kokopelli River Guides and was immediately reminded of how great summer time memories are created!!

Leslie & Matt, thanks for talking with us today. What’s the rafting looking like out there this season!
We had some late season snow and rain that caught us up to where we should be for the year.

This is now your 11th season of running Kokopelli in Southern Oregon, but before this you guys have each logged more than 17 years professionally running rivers! What’s it like to have spent much of your lives getting to work and play as much as you have?

We feel like floating down a river is part of who we are. We couldn’t see our lives without rafting and kayaking.
Leslie when we talked on the phone you shared an experience with me that you had as a river guide, which was that you have actually had return families with their kids coming year after year specifically to go rafting with you!
We have return groups coming back year after year. I’ve really noticed that this year a large percentage of our bookings are returns. One of our guides Levi, has a family from Portland that books a 3 day Lower Klamath trip every year specifically to raft with him. Every year they bring more and more people to share the experience with them. This is their 4th year rafting with us!

I know rafting can be a tricky business as you have alot of variables to work with. The river could be perfect, but the chemistry of the group could be off.
 For the most part people come on a rafting trip and they are happy. Very rarely do you get people who are grumpy and don’t want to have fun. You do get the people who complain that their life jacket is too tight but once we remedy that situation they are all smiles on the river after that
So, when your talking with people on the phone your mind is already building their trip?
Sometimes I speak with people on the phone about a trip and I can already formulate in my mind who their guide should be just by their personality. I try to make a good match with the guides and the customers so they can both have an enjoyable experience.
Talk to us about your 2012 Crew. Where did they come from…? How did you pick them…? and any interesting details you think we should all know.
Our guides this year are awesome! They are all new to us. They have guiding experience on the Kern River and American River in California, the Payette River in Idaho, the Rogue and Klamath, and in Alaska. I love that our guides LOVE guiding! They go rafting, inflatable kayaking, and even Stand Up Paddling on their days off. They are enthusiastic and are great with the customers!

Nick is the comedian. He will keep  you in stitches on your trip. Jill is going to school to be a teacher, super sweet, and loves just being out on the water. Carol just got her massage therapist degree in Ashland. Belle is going to get her Phd starting in the fall. Ben is Mr. Helpful. He is happy go lucky and spends as much time as he can on the river. Sean is the expert river guide. He is so completely comfortable guiding big water and he is definitely someone you want to have in the back of your raft.

I know you guys told me that you wouldn’t hire anyone that didn’t know how to have fun on the water?
We made it our intention this year that we would ONLY hire guides that were Class 4 guides, that loved talking to people, and entertaining them on the river. They also had to love guiding!


One of Kokopelli’s specialties is working with large groups. You even mentioned having a bachelorette party going down the Rogue who recently requested all MALE guides?
We love to take groups out who are celebrating a special occasion. Every summer we take out family reunions, wedding parties, and birthday parties. This year we are taking out a group on a “work” trip from Nike.

Tell us about the local guy who received a surprise trip for his birthday when all his buddies showed up to pick him up in the Kokopelli River van last week?
The guy’s wife reserved a birthday Upper Klamath trip. It had to be very secretive because it was a surprise. Our van drove up to Tubb Springs where they would be meeting the group but the birthday boy wasn’t there. So we had to drive up to his house in the Green Springs. He was just getting out of the shower! He said he was getting all “gussied” up to go into town for his special day. Surprise! You’re going rafting! He and his friends had a blast!

Did they bring a birthday cake and candles?
I don’t know if they brought birthday cake but they sure did bring beer for after the trip was over!

You guys really take fun seriously!
We are all about having fun!

So, this summer as we are all making plans how should we go about getting our rafting trips scheduled:
Day trips… Call Us
Drop Ins — Call
Full Day — Reserve
Extended Trips – Reserve


Matt, talk to us about your extended trips you will be offering this summer, what are these typically like?
We take our guests down to the Lower Klamath River for 2 days to 5 days. The time we spend on the river is rafting, kayaking, and relaxing. We even get to do an amazing hike up to Ukonom Falls that is just off the river. At camp we set up chairs, play games, eat scrumptious meals and dutch oven desserts cooked by our expert chefs, our guides. We star gaze at night and tuck ourselves in for an incredibly restful night of sleep.

Leslie, what’s your favorite day trip to take locally?
I absolutely love the Tree of Heaven section of river on the Klamath to take my inflatable kayak on with my dogs. I also love rafting the Upper Klamath. It is adrenaline to the max!

Matt, best ride and guide for six teenage boys who just drank red bull?
The Upper Klamath for sure! I feel sorry for the guide who is guiding them though!


Not all rides need to be wild. I know that I will be taking my son (9) and daughter (4) on a relaxing cruise down the kalamath. Will you tell us more about what we can expect?
On the Tree of Heaven section of the Klamath River you will spot turtles basking in the sun. You will see bald eagles, osprey, and blue herons. You may also be lucky enough to spot a river otter swimming and a deer swimming across the river. This section of river is mild, the water is warm, and offers some fun splashy rapids to raft through. It is the perfect family rafting trip!


You guys both have a passion for rafting, but you also run a full service shop?
Yes, we offer Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) rentals, kayak, and gear rentals, kayak lessons, and rafting trips in the summer months. In the winter we tune skis and snowboards and rent cross country skis and snowshoes.

Any advice for summer river rafters this season?
Just relax! Let us take care of you! Leave your worries behind! Don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses, and water bottle. You might want to bring a dry change of clothes and a towel too!

Finally, any last comments to our fabulous readers?
Thank you for all of your support over the past eleven seasons. This is a highly competitive business and we thank you for choosing Kokopelli!

Kokopelli River Guides
2475 Siskiyou Blvd.

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Shields Bialasik

Hi, I am Shields. I am the creator or LocalsGuide. The mission or my company is to provide a positive media platform for my community which in turn makes it stronger and more resilient. I hope you will enjoy and feel inspired to start your own LocalsGuide in your town or community.

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