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Wonders of the Rogue River

The Rogue River captured my heart the first time I saw it. I will remember my first trip down very fondly. I had recently returned from a backpacking trip in India and was ready for a summer filled with sleeping outside, rafting, and sharing the outdoors with people. There was rain in the forecast but that wasn’t going to stop me from having fun. The water was high, my sleeping bag got a little wet, but it made a huge impact on my life. Here I am, anxiously waiting for season number 7, and wanting to share some of the wonders of the Rogue River that keep me coming back for more.

Slim Pickins Rapid on the Rogue River
Slim Pickins Rapid on the Rogue River


The Rogue River is great for the first time rafter as well as the seasoned river tripper. The rapids are mostly Class II and III, with recovery pools at the bottom making it a nice balance of excitement and relaxation. These pools are great for talking about how awesome that rapid was, swimming, taking photos of your friends, and picking up anything that may have fallen in. There are a couple of bigger rapids on such as Rainy Falls, Mule Creek Canyon, and Blossom Bar, so make sure you have a map, or a guide, so you are aware when they are coming.

Blossom Bar
Blossom Bar | Photo by Nate Wilson


The warm water, and calm stretches lend great places for swimming and cooling off. When asked what a Rogue Trip is like I often share stories of tossing youngsters off my raft, cannon balls, and starting water fights with anyone that looks a little warm from basking in the sun. Summer temps can be in the 90s, making the river the perfect place to cool off.

Anna Looses a Game of Balance
Anna Looses a Game of Balance


With swaths of unexplored land and an abundance of water, the Rogue Valley is a hot bed for wildlife. Early in the summer you will find small armies of Merganser ducks and their spring ducklings learning to navigate the current and crashing through the waves. Blacktail Deer climb impossible slopes and scamper about. As the summer rolls on the blackberries come out and attract the black bears to the rivers edge for a feast. You may even see some new bear cubs running up and down the river bank!

Young Blacktail Deer
Young Blacktail Deer

Up in the air you might catch an Osprey chasing after a Bald Eagle in an attempt to protect the nest. The Great Blue Herons love to fish along the banks and stretch their long necks and giant wings and fly away if you get to close. River otters also call the Rogue home and enjoy diving and playing with one another. There are many more animals enjoying life in the Rogue Valley.


The Rogue River Trail runs 40 miles along the right side of the river and dips down to the waters edge and disappearing into the trees. The trail can be accessed from many of the camps, but may require a swim or boat ride across the river. The trail is perfect for morning or evening strolls and lends great views of the river and can often lead to nice shady nooks.

Hiking Up Big Windy Creek
Hiking Up Big Windy Creek | Photo by Nate Wilson

There are a number of side streams that come into the Rogue River and are a great place to explore. Many of these side streams lead to cold swimming holes and even water falls to cool off in when trying to hide from the afternoon sun.

Human History

There have been humans living along the Rogue River for about 8,500 years. The first humans were hunter gatherers that set up small settlements along many of the side streams. Many different tribes had settlements including the Tututini near the coast, Shasta Costa, Dakubetede, Takelma, Shasta, and Latgawa. 1792 is the first recorded encounter between the Oregon Natives when British explorer George Vancouver anchored off Cape Blanco. It wasn’t until 1827 when Hudson Bay Company crossed the Siskiyou Mountains in search of beaver was direct contact with the inland tribes and European settlers made.

Early Rogue Fishing Boat
Early Rogue Fishing Boat | Photo by Nate Wilson

The search for gold brought more European settlers, and tension into the area. As mining camps grew, no peace treaties could last long, leading to the Rogue River Wars. By 1856 most of the Rogue River natives were relocated to reservations north as more European settlements continued to pop up. As the Gold Rush settled down the fishing industry started growing and continues to this day. The Rogue is well known for its salmon fishing, even attracting western novel great, author Zane Grey. His small fishing and writing cabin still exists and is a frequent stop for many river users.

Star Gazing

Being in the wilderness puts you far the light pollution of the city and gives you big dark night skies. Night time on the Rogue gives you big dark night skies, with great chances to catch the Milky Way Galaxy, all of the summer constellations, and maybe even some meteors. The Rogue is also great place to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower that peaks mid-August! Late in the summer you can wake up extra early and catch Orion rising through the trees.

Milky Way at Wildcat Camp
Milky Way at Wildcat Camp | Photo by Teal Hertz

I have lost count of how many times I have been down the Rogue River but it doesn’t matter much. The best part of being on the river is it is so dynamic and each trip is special. Everyday is different from the last, and no “day 2” is, or will ever be the same. From the numerous rapids, the many side streams, and the changing landscape the Rogue will always have a strong hold on me.

Originally Published: | Updated on | Categorized under: Rogue River

Post Author

Michael Hughes

Michael grew up in a small Minnesota town. He spent his days outside in the woods and riding a bike. The only thing that has changed is his location. Oregon is now home and he is still outside, riding a bike, and paddling where ever the water is.

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