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Hellgate Jetboat Excursions
The Northwest's #1 River Trip
~ Our Story ~
Hellgate Jetboat Excursions draws nearly 85,000 people every season, which runs from May through September. Visitors from all over the world make Grants Pass’ Hellgate Jetboats their destination in order to board the propeller-less boat that is pushed by the hydro-jet that glides just inches above the water's surface.
Local residents enjoy excursions as they entertain themselves and their summer guests. Corporations often send groups to Hellgate for team-building exercises, as employee rewards and incentives, and to take the place of traditional company picnics. “Every year, business owners discover that Hellgate is a fantastic way to indulge their employees. They also find that it is an easy event because planning involves a single phone call to set a date,” explains Robert Hamlyn, owner of Hellgate Jetboats. “The entire group has a great time and the experience creates a sense of unity because everyone is in the same boat, so to speak.”
Along the river, trained, educated and witty Hellgate pilots offer a narrated historic overview of the region and point out landscape features amid the most majestic scenery to line any waterway in the country. On every trip, pilots point to nearby wildlife such as deer, river otter, osprey and bald eagles flying overhead, guarding nests or perched on high branches.
Passengers on the morning, afternoon, or white water tours pass through whitewater class II rapids and are driven to the very edge of the Rogue’s restricted section, ending at Hellgate Canyon with 100-foot-high cliffs made famous for the cliff-jumping scene in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. On the return ride, jet boat adventurers stop in for brunch, lunch or dinner at the newly remodeled Northwest River Lodge called the OK Corral.
The OK Corral, also owned by the Hamlyns is reserved exclusively for Hellgate guests who are treated to banquet- and country-style meals as part of their adventure package. The 12,000-square-foot facility is a short walk or wagon ride from the river up a grassy slope. Hungry boaters arrive at an open-air deck with carved log tables and chairs that accommodate up to 350 people at a time. To complement every meal, beer, wine or soft drinks flow freely, while champagne is poured at brunch. With uninterrupted views of the Rogue River below, waterfall features and an expansive river rock fireplace, guests relax and revive at the OK Corral before returning to the boat and the final leg of the journey.
The Hamlyns are Southern California natives who in 1980 traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest by motor home, landing in Grants Pass for several days. Soon after, they sold their home and moved to the city that had won their heart. For a time, the Hamlyns owned and operated a successful equipment rental business in Grants Pass, but within a few years, they sold the company, while they managed Rogue Jet Boat Excursions, and soon became the owners. In 1988, they purchased Hellgate and merged Hellgate Jetboat Excursions and Rogue Jet Boat Excursions into one business. “Our goal was to provide everything adventure seekers wanted in a single location,” says Hamyln. “We have since expanded our services to accommodate the increasing number of annual visitors and are dedicated to consistently improving and enhancing the experience.”
Today, Hellgate employs more than 100 staff members during peak season. In addition to offering daily summer excursions, the Hamlyns recently opened the ShopRiverRock gift store, located within Hellgate’s reservation office and above the indoor River Rock Café. The shop is open year-round and has more than 4,000 square feet of space that showcases what Hamlyn calls “magnificent merchandise.” Visitors can stop in at the shop’s Wine Bar or step into a garden area, simulated kitchen, bedroom and living room, filled with items the Hamlyns personally selected for their uniqeness, originality and quality. “ShopRiverRock is far more than a souvenir gift store. It’s a place where one-of-a-kind home accessories, furniture and unique gifts are found. There’s nothing like it in all of southern Oregon.”
The Hamlyns build their own jet boats. Since 1985, they have added eight new vessels, all designed and manufactured in Grants Pass. Over the years, changes to the boats have been environment, safety, and comfort-inspired. For example, a windshield with wipers was added so that pilots could see out onto the river more clearly.
Through time, higher quality pumps have improved fuel efficiency, and the installation of internal speakers has helped control noise and ensures that passengers can hear the driver at all times – even during the most exciting moments of their adventures.
As the owners of Hellgate Jet Boat Excursions for nearly 20 years, the Hamlyns are committed to sharing the Rogue’s resources with other river enthusiasts and have partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to ensure Hellgate’s operation doesn’t interfere with the river’s natural habitat. “We are good stewards of the Rogue,” says Hamlyn. “The river has been good to us, and we’re are committed to protecting it in return!"
Hellgate Jetboat Excursions Mission Statement
"At Hellgate Jetboat Excursions we are passionate and committed to providing the #1 River Trip, Retail and Restaurant experience to the guests that we serve while focusing on the environment and maintaining our corporate values."
Our Corporate Values
Be authentic, responsive and respectful in our actions to each other; our environment , and our guests
Empower each person to create an outstanding organization
Speak words that encourage, listen to and support each other and our guests
Maintain the path that leads to greatness by doing what is right
Cherish our role in providing and unique experiences for our guests in an environment of laughter and joy
Appreciate our individual strengths to support the vision with collective passion, flexibility and a standard of excellence
For information or questions please contact us at 800-648-4874 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buy souvenirs, exquisite gifts and home decor from Shop River Rock!