The Rogue River in southwest Oregon was one of only eight original rivers included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The rugged canyons surrounding the river help protect its wild status and it remains today much as it was when originally designated.
Because of the Wild and Scenic River guidelines, there is some riverside development which would not normally occur in a wilderness. That means that outdoor enthusiasts have opportunities to hike, fish and float among the nearly 36,000 acres, using the river as a scenic byway to access the area. It is considered one of the premier rafting destinations on the West Coast.
The Rogue is federally designated as wild for 33 miles; an additional 51 miles are classified as scenic or recreational. The Illinois River, which empties into the Rogue just downstream from the wilderness, is also classified as wild for nearly thirty miles and scenic for eighteen more. A forty mile hiking trail now parallels the Rogue. It can be hiked in its entirety or done in smaller segments with day hikes.
Rapids on the Rogue range from Class II to Class V, although most outfitters run only up to Class IV. Guided trips take from three to six days.
As you might expect, the river is abundant with wildlife. Since salmon swim up the Illinois and Rogue to spawn, black bear, otters, osprey and great blue heron fish alongside anglers. Chinook Salmon runs during spring, summer and fall; Steelheads in summer, fall, and winter.
One of the easiest ways to access the wilderness area is to take a jet boat excursion upstream from Gold Beach. Some of the boats were actually used for mail delivery. Sixty, eight and 104 mile trips depart daily throughout the year. You can enjoy a few hours on the river, use the drop-off point as a starting place for River Trail hikes, or spend a night or two inside the wilderness at Paradise Bar Lodge.
If you’re interested in kayaking or hiking downstream, reaching the Wild Rogue Wilderness requires a drive of a little more than thirty miles down the Rogue’s south bank using Jerry’s Flat Road, Forest Service 33. It is unpaved for a portion of the way.