Pat Pendley’s Get to Know Oregon Volume #6 The Rogue River

Running Down the Upper Rogue

Coursing through the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests, Oregon Route 230 merges with Oregon Route 62 near historic Union Creek. Union Creek is the western terminus of the Fort Klamath Military Wagon Road, once an important trail for settlers crossing the Cascades. Union Creek is also the site of a historic resort built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The road soon parallels the “Wild and Scenic” Upper Rogue River. The Upper Rogue, like the North Umpqua, supports endangered populations of Chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout. The Rogue Gorge and Natural Bridge interpretive sites offer interesting perspectives of the river as it thunders through deep, narrow chasms. Under a canopy of conifers between here and Prospect, you’ll find several riverside campgrounds where you can enjoy the sounds of the river or hook a few trout. Wildflowers are abundant along the Upper Rogue, providing a brilliant contrast to the green of the forests. Lost Creek Lake at Stewart State Park is popular for boating and waterskiing, among other outdoor activities. Farther south, Shady Cove is a popular point of departure for river rafters and anglers setting out to float the Upper Rogue.

Gold Hill and the Rogue Valley

Oregon Route 234 heads west, rejoining the Upper Rogue River in the friendly town of Gold Hill, the Byway’s southern portal. En route, Medford BLM and Table Rocks—flat-topped remnants of lava flows that filled the canyons of the Upper Rogue over seven million years ago—rise dramatically from the valley with Upper Table Rock soaring 800 feet. From here, the bustling Rogue Valley cities of Medford, Jacksonville, Ashland, and Grants Pass are less than an hour away.

don’t miss…

Wonderful Waterfalls

There are 15 waterfalls along the RogueUmpqua Scenic Byway. Photographers and artists from all over the world come to capture these awe-inspiring images. Susan Creek Falls, Toketee Falls and Watson Falls are three favorites. Watson Falls, tumbling 272 feet, is the third highest waterfall in Oregon. The mist of the falls offers great relief on warm summer days.

Sacred Steelhead Waters

Flyfishers worldwide prize the North Umpqua for its run of summer steelhead. Steelhead—ocean-going rainbow trout—are one of the most prized gamefish of the Pacific Northwest, and grow from eight to 20 pounds. The North Umpqua offers 30 miles of flyfishing-only water, all accessible from the road. Fishing is not easy on the North Umpqua, but it is nonetheless a wonderful experience—just ask Jimmy Carter, Tom Brokaw and the many other notables who fish here! Anglers and conservationists have rallied to preserve the North Umpqua’s habitat and fishery. If you visit in the late summer or fall, take a small, side trip to Big Bend Pool on Steamboat Creek (10 miles from Steamboat Inn) to see one result of the Forest Service’s conservation work—an observatory where you can view hundreds of native steelhead.

Information courtesy of
Travel Oregon


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