Running The Rogue River

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From the headwaters near Crater Lake National Park, the Rogue River flows 215 miles (346 km) to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, Oregon. The 84 miles (135 km) of the lower Rogue, beginning seven miles (11.2 km) west of Grants Pass and ending 11 miles (17.7 km) east of Gold Beach are designated as a Wild and Scenic River.  

Emerald waters surrounded by forested mountains and rugged boulder-lined banks

Unique among boating experiences, groups can float from lodge to lodge or camp along the Rogue River’s banks for the full wilderness experience. A permit is required whether floating the river as a private, self-guided group or as passengers of a fully outfitted, commercially guided trip.

For the wild section of the Rogue River, the most remote and challenging whitewater, float permits are required year-round. This section of the river is accessed from Graves Bar and extends 33 miles (53.1 km) downriver to Foster Bar. 

To help preserve the Rogue’s wild and scenic qualities, float permits for the high demand, control season (May 15 - October 15) are distributed through a lottery which opens annually on December 1st and continues through January 31st. For those boaters wishing to float the river from October 16 - May 14, self-issued permits are available at the Smullin Visitor Center and Grave Creek Boat Launch access.

Historic Zane Grey Cabin along the Rogue River National Recreation Trail.

Zane Grey Cabin, Rogue River National Recreation Trail, Oregon (Bob Wick, BLM))

In addition to spectacular scenery and thrilling whitewater, the wild section offers extraordinary fishing, swimming in secluded pools, and hiking on the Rogue River National Recreation Trail (PDF). Originally traveled by the Takelma Indians, the trail traverses the entire length of the wild section of the Rogue and stretches 40 miles (64.3 km) – winding through steep canyons, along cascading waterfalls and also near Gold-Rush era historic sites. A wild section float permit is required for Rogue River National Recreation Trail hikers if you are supported by boaters. A permit is not required if you are hiking the trail and are self-supported.

Although access to the rugged Rogue National Wild and Scenic River is often experienced by boat or foot, the Galice to Hellgate Back Country Byway traverses these spectacular landscapes via a winding, paved route suitable for passenger cars. With access points along the river, the drive is an out-and-back trip totaling 80 miles (128.7 km) round-trip. Some sections of the route are single-lane, with occasional turnouts. Stop in the town of Merlin to fill up your gas tank and ensure you have extra food and water on-hand for this scenic and remote drive.

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