The United States Congress designated the Wild Rogue Wilderness (map
) in 1978 and it now has a total of 37,371 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Oregon
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.
Surrounding the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, the rugged and complex canyon landscape of the Wild Rogue Wilderness provides watershed protection for the Wild portion of the river. The area is characterized by steep terrain of near vertical cliffs, razor-sharp ridges and cascading mountain creeks.
The lure of gold in the 1850's attracted a numbers of miners, hunters, stocker raisers and subsistence farmers. Conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans culminated in the 1855-56 Rogue River "Indian War." After their defeat, Native Americans were taken to reservations. For settlers, life in the Rogue Canyon was difficult and isolated. Although extensive gold mining operations took place, overall production was low. The remnants of mining, such as pipe, flumes, trestles, and stamp mills can still be found.
While the Rogue River flows through the core of the Wilderness, legislation specifically directed that it be managed under Wild and Scenic River direction. Because of this, there are some activities and development, such as motorboat use and lodges, which would normally not occur in a wilderness. The Rogue River is nationally known for its salmon and steelhead fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities, both of which require permits.
Approximately 15 miles of the 40 mile Rogue River Trail #1160, a National Recreation Trail, provides year-round hiker only access to the river corridor from Graves Creek down to Big Bend near Illahe. The Panther Ridge Trail #1253 follows Panther Ridge from Clay Hill to Buck Point along the upper elevation of the northern wilderness border. A side trail provides access to the unique vista of Hanging Rock, which is a large rock outcrop on a sheer vertical cliff. It provides excellent views into Eden Valley and the Rogue River Canyon. Other outstanding views can be obtained from the Mt. Bolivar Trail #1259 which provides access to the summit of Mt. Bolivar at 4,319 feet. The Mule Creek Trail #1159, located on the Bureau of Land management portion of the wilderness, provides a steep route on an out mining trail between the river and Panther Ridge. In general cross country travel is not advised due to steep slopes and heavy vegetation. The Forest Service administers the entire wilderness, including the Bureau of Land Management portion, so Forest Service regulations apply wilderness-wide.
Along the river you may see deer and otters, or even black bears looking for a meal of salmon. Bears, grown accustomed to easy pickings from boaters, may prove a nuisance in numerous campsites. Birds abound, such as fish eating osprey and great blue heron and lizards hasten over the dry slopes above the water. Ticks and rattlesnakes are often encountered. The river corridor is also excellent habitat for poison oak, whose stems and shiny leaves in groups of three can be a problem throughout the year. Mosquitoes are present during a good part of the season and yellow jackets can be a nuisance during the typically hot, rainless summer days.
The Blossom Complex Fire, which occurred in 2005, resulted in damage to the Rogue River Trail. This section of trail will be monitored and maintained on a yearly basis.