Wild and Scenic section guide
The Wild and Scenic Rogue River
The Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue is a world famous whitewater destination. As one of the original rivers protected in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, the wild canyon is something like floating back in time, going to a place un-touched by modernity.
The Wild and Scenic Rogue River section requires a launch permit from May 15 to October 15. You can learn more about how to get permits through the lottery on our Rogue River permit page.
There are a number of guide books available on the Rogue River. We like the Matt Leidecker book which we have for sale at our shop in Merlin.
At standard summer flows the Wild section of the Rogue River has many class III and even a few class IV rapids that can give boats trouble. Here is a list of a few that we find to be the most common places for people to run into challenges, however there are plenty of rapids NOT on this list where people also run into challenges.
From top of the river to bottom:
- Grave Creek
- Rainie Falls - Main Chute is most significant rapid on the whole river, Middle chute is a very adventurous option, fish ladder is the most common route to bounce or line down. Rafters typically just bounce down the fish ladder. Those with drift boats line boats down.
- Wildcat - The rocks in the bottom middle and the “alagator” rock are notorious for hanging up boats. This is a commonly under-estimated rapid.
- Upper Black Bar Falls
- China rapid - The rocks in the middle have wrapped, torn and generally caused havoc on many boats.
- Mule Creek Canyon - In a raft the most common experience is bouncing off walls and breaking oars but flips can happen and people can be knocked out. The Coffee pot is especially exciting.
- Blossom Bar - By far the most consequential and notorious rapid on the river. Take this rapid seriously.
There are youtube videos available for most of these rapids but be aware that just because someone posted a video of their line, does not mean it was the best line!
The Rogue River has a non-reserve system for campsites. Meaning that it is a 100% first-come, first served campsite system. The Rogue also has a very limited number of which can accommodate groups of 20 or more people. Those two issues combine to result in large groups of tens sending boats ahead to take larger camps as they have limited places they can stay.
The average non-commercial trip on the Rogue River on any given year is typically around 5 people. There are hundreds of amazing small, hidden camps on the Rogue so if you are a small private party keep an eye out for these incredible small camps and consider avoiding the rush and stress of trying to get the more well known larger camps.
The Rogue River is known for it’s Black Bear population. It is not un-common, especially from the Blossom Bar to Tacoma area, to see Black Bears on your trip. To help protect these bears it is very important they are not fed and do not get access to your food. Many of the major camps have solar powered electric fences, if you stay in one of those camps please put all food inside the fences. If you are not in these camps, please do everything you can to keep clean camps and pack away all food at nights so bears to not become accustomed to stealing human food from camps.
After passing Blossom Bar you will start to see jetboats coming up the river. Motorized boat travel has a very long and cherished history on the Rogue River. While these may feel un-familiar and even disliked by rafters from other areas, on the Rogue the jet-boaters are part of our river family so please pull over, let them by and give them a friendly river wave.
Standard launch and take-out options:
We are happy to shuttle your vehicle from your chosen launch point to your chosen takeout
The most common launch points are:
- Almeda - 4-miles and a number of fun class II rapids up river from the start of the Wild section at Grave Creek. A nice boat ramp at a campground provides a great launching point for your trip.
- Argo - An un-improved gravel bar 2 miles up-river from Grave Creek. Typically less crowded, but you are also packing your boat while walking over ankle busting river rock.
- Grave Creek - The most common launching point but a relatively small boat ramp for it’s popularity. When launching here your first class III rapid is about 30 yards away so you better be ready to get straight into the action.
- Foster Bar - the first and by FAR the most popular takeout.
- Hog Eddy - Un-improved gravel bar at Cougar Lane store about 7 miles down stream from Foster Bar.
- Quosatana Creek - A nice boat ramp 15 flat river miles down stream from Foster Bar.
- Bear Camp - The preferred route which is usually plowed of snow my memorial day. This route is 37 miles of winding steep one lane paved mountain road. Assume this 37 miles will take you roughly 90 minutes to drive making the drive from Foster Bar to Merlin around 2 hours.
- Eden Valley - This is the northern route around the river canyon and is usually the shuttle route from mid to late April through somewhere around Memorial Day. This route runs on the winding logging roads north of the canyon with most people choosing to come down into Glendale on the way back to I-5. Bring a good map as this route has many spurs and options for getting lost. This route typically takes around 3 hours to go from Foster Bar to Merlin.
- The Coast Route - This is the route used from mid-November (or whenever the snow stops travel over Bear Camp) until the Eden Valley route is opened up in the spring. This route goes from Foster Bar down river all the way to Gold Beach, then south down the coast through Brookings until connecting with 199 and driving back to Grants Pass. This route takes roughly 4 hours from Foster Bar back to Grants Pass/Merlin.