The Rogue River begins near Crater Lake and flows 215 miles through the mountains and valleys of southwest Oregon emptying into the Pacific Ocean at the town of Gold Beach. Rushing from the Cascade Range, the river glides into the Rogue Valley floor, drifting peacefully past cities and towns and agricultural lands. The Wild and Scenic River designation begins west of the city of Grants Pass where the Applegate River flows into the Rogue River. The river turns north, flowing through the scenic Hellgate Canyon, and then bends sharply west at Grave Creek, where the Wild Section of the Rogue River begins. Here the powerful river cuts through the rugged terrain of the northern edge of the Klamath Mountains. The river churns through the steep rock walls of Mule Creek Canyon and the boulder-strewn Blossom Bar Rapids before slowing in Huggins Canyon and Clayhill Stillwater. Below the town of Agness, the Rogue and Illinois Rivers join and flow through picturesque Copper Canyon. Below Copper Canyon, the river widens and slows, with the Wild and Scenic designation ending where Lobster Creek enters the Rogue River.
Flowing through time, the Rogue River has nurtured those who have come to its lush banks. The earliest inhabitants were Indians who lived a life of hunting, fishing, and gathering. Various Indian tribes made their homes and found sustenance along the Rogue River for over 9,000 years before Euro-Americans arrived. In the 1850s, miners poured into the Rogue Valley and Indians awoke to the coarse cry of “Gold!” which, with startling immediacy, signaled an end to a way of life Indians had known for thousands of years. The boatmen of the early- to mid-1900s, whose daring and perseverance established dominance over the wild waters of the river, were responsible for opening these waters to the guide-fishing industry and whitewater boating that has become so economically vital to southwest Oregon today.
The Rogue River was one of the original eight rivers included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. With its famous steelhead and salmon fishing, challenging whitewater, and extraordinary wildlife-viewing opportunities, the Rogue River continues to be one of the world’s most popular recreation destinations. The 34-mile Wild section features predominantly Class III (or less) rapids, and includes thundering Rainie Falls (Class V) and breathtaking rapids at Mule Creek Canyon (Class III) and Blossom Bar (Class IV).