The Wild & Scenic Rogue River travels through the heart of the Southern Oregon wilderness, and is rich with history in every long stretch and little nook. It’s one of our favorite places to be in the summer. We wish we could be on the water all year long!

Beginning in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness at Boundary Springs, the mighty Rogue flows for 215 miles before entering the Pacific Ocean. The Rogue River is known for its steelhead and salmon fishing, in addition to its other attractions. But before diving into your next river adventure, let’s look back on what makes this river so intriguing.

Decades of history

In the mid-1800s, the Rogue River country was the site of Oregon’s largest gold rush. It also became the place where a tumultuous conflict between Native people and white settlers — the Rogue River Wars — happened.

In late 1851, news of gold and pelts drew people to the area. After the discovery of gold along the river, thousands of settlers arrived. Over $70 million worth of gold was collected during this time. Many old mining pieces — including pipe, flumes and stamp mills — can still be found in the area today.

Many different tribes lived in the area, but they were grouped together as the Rogue River Indians. Because of their name as the “Rogue Indians,” the name River of the Rogues was created. This was eventually shortened to the Rogue River. 

Then the Oregon Trail opened, and the war came to a terrible and traumatic end. Settlers and miners consumed the natural resources the tribes survived on. The Tolowa and Takelma people were forced onto reservation lands, where many of them died from disease, lack of food and water, and a loss of their culture. 

The history of the Rogue River is not perfect. It has had times of war, peace, calm and chaos. However, it’s important to remember the past which shaped the river and valley we know and love today. By looking back on the good times and the imperfections, you’ll discover and appreciate the history of those who lived on these lands.

A river flowing through time

Today, the Rogue River is a mecca for adventure. Travelers from around the world come to explore its beautiful waters and rugged scenery. There’s ample opportunities to hike, fish, raft, ride jet boats, and much more.