From 'The Wild and Scenic Rivers of North America' by Tim Palmer, Island Press 1993

The lower Rogue is one of the original national wild and scenic rivers and one of the classic wild river trips in America. The upper river is a wonderland of waterfalls, geologic phenomena, and old-growth forest.

The upper river is presumed to originate with the waters of Crater Lake, erupting from Spring Flows. The river later disappears underground and bursts out 200 ft away after churning through lava tubes. Thick stands of ancient forests and the translucent river harbors otters, elk, fishers, gray foxes, ringtail cats, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. Tourists in great numbers stop and camp along the river on their way to Crater Lake. Excellent trails follow the water's scenic route. A hydroelectric project, banned by the designation, had been proposed at the geologically unique Natural Bridge. Public land constitutes 99 percent of the upper river frontage.

The lower portion of the reach designated in 1968 is one of the most sought-after river trips in the West for fishing and intermediate whitewater. BLM requires permits for a wilderness run of 35 mi featuring scenery of the Klamath Mountains, exciting rapids, pleasant summer and fall weather, wildlife including frequent sightings of bears, exceptional salmon and steelhead fishing, and ideal campsites. Historic sites include a cabin owned by writer Zane Grey. The forest is perhaps the greatest cross section of the plant kingdom on the Pacific coast. Douglas fir is found with ponderosa pine, sugar pine, white fir, and incense cedar. Red Cedar, Port Orford cedar, and Pacific yew grow in wet areas, and the rare Brewer spruce and Lawson cypress can be seen. Hardwoods include Oregon white oak, California black oak, Pacific madrone, Oregon ash, black cottonwood, red alder, golden chinquapin, tanoak, Oregon myrtle, and big leaf maple. The river is world renowned for salmon up to 40 lb and steelhead up to 15 lb. Over 100,000 anadromous fish spawn in the basin each year.

Boaters circumvent Rainie Falls by bumping through a channel dynamited into bedrock as a fish ladder. Mule Creek Canyon, not as wide as the length of some rafts, is followed by Blossom Bar, a Class IV rapid. Several lodges along the river host river-traveling guests. Flows are adequate all summer and fall, and additional reaches above and below the wild section offer a total of 55 mi of whitewater boating. The lowest reach below Agness is mostly Class I in a nearly wild canyon, making an excellent two-day canoe voyage. Power boats - a big tourist business - are allowed below Blossom Bar. The Rogue River Trail of 40 mi presents one of the finer river-backpacking opportunities, especially in the cool seasons.

As one of the earliest wild and scenic rivers, the Rogue is a rare case where much land acquisition has followed designation: several million dollars was spent to protect stream frontage. Combating overuse and conflicts over camping space, the federal agencies instituted a permit system in 1978 limiting floating to 12,000 people a year, split evenly between commercial outfitters and private boaters.

Comments