Today gold-panning is a
favorite occupation of many visitors as each year gold is washed down
from the mountains in the streams and lodges in gravel and between
boulders. In its heyday, over $70 million was taken from the Rogue in
gold; $5 million alone from Tyee Rapids by a group of Chinese miners.
Gradually, however, the gold dwindled. Since the rugged character of
the Rogue prevented it from becoming a highway of commerce and most of
the valuable pelts had been trapped out, agriculture became the major
industry for the Rogue Valley. Although commercial salmon fishing was
once popular, it was outlawed in 1962 when state legislation banned
the use of gill-nets. Game fishing remains the major fishing industry
In the 1930's the Rogue enjoyed a surge of Hollywood glitter as
it became the watchword in fishing for such luminaries as Clark Gable,
Ginger Rogers, Zane Grey and Herbert Hoover. Clark Gable was overheard
to say at a star-studded Hollywood dinner "Well, I'd rather be eating
flapjacks at the Weasku Inn," an historic inn located by the Savage
Rapids Dam. And who can forget that historic jump in the movie Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," reputed to have taken place in Hellgate
Canyon? Nowadays movies are produced by the score using the dramatic
backdrop of the Rogue River, and many big Hollywood names such as
Ginger Rogers and Kirstie Alley make the Rogue Valley their home away
A Recreational Paradise
The Rogue is one of eight rivers in the United States designated as
wild and scenic. Its beauty will always be protected for our visitors.
It remains a bird and wildlife watchers delight. Flying overhead one
can find snowy egret, blue heron, osprey Canadian geese great horned
owls, grouse, partridge, pheasant, quail and the majestic bald eagle.
Along its banks graze deer and elk, and one can always catch sight of
an occasional river otter or beaver. In the canyon area are found
bear, mink, muskrat, fox, mountain lion and bobcat.
And of course,
there are the fish...
Although there are two major runs for the salmon and steelhead there
are fish in the Rogue all year round. You can catch Chinook and Coho
salmon, steelhead, brown trout, cutthroat, golden trout, catfish and
in the lower part of the river there are still sturgeon. The Chinook
and steelhead run in the fall and spring to spawn upriver, and there
is also a Coho run in the fall. The nest spots for steelhead are from
Battle Bar to Johns Rapids and there's also a great salmon hole just
below Rainey Falls - you can hike there from Graves Creek. The fall
Chinook fishery in recent years has been the healthiest since fish
counts were first logged; in 1989 a 60 pound salmon was recorded and
in 1990 a 45 pounder was caught outside of Grants Pass. And just to
show you how serious they take their fishing on the Rogue, one of the
earliest bridges built, Ament Dam, was unpopular with the fishermen
because they claimed the fish ladder was inadequate to allow spawning
salmon upriver. When nothing was done the irate fishermen attempted to
dynamite the dam in 1912! Today all the fish ladders are deemed
There are many other activities on the Rogue besides fishing.
Rafting remains a favorite hobby since native Rogue Riverian Glen
Woolridge blasted a channel from Hellgate Canyon to Marial to allow
boat passage. The stretch of river between Gold Hill to Rogue River is
an easy and safe float, while experienced rafters will want to try the
advanced rapids below Graves Creek. There are also many guide trips
available for the novice who wants to experience the thrill of
advanced white water rafting. The Rogue River is accessible without a
launching fee at a number of locations from Gold Hill to Graves Creek.
Water-skiing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and jet-skiing can all be
enjoyed on the river, especially at the lake portion just below the
city of Rogue River. Jet boat excursions remain a favorite of
visitors; the shallow draft and powerful engines propel the boats as
fast upstream as they move downriver, in excess of 50 Mph! Hellgate
Excursions - For Jet Boat rides/tours along Rogue River
visit Hellgate Excursions.
Click Here For
White Water Rafting
For those who prefer out-of-water activities there are numerous parks
and trails. Rogue River Hiking Trail leads you through the wild region
of the Rogue on the north bank, from Graves Creek to Marial. Between
June 1st and September 15 the wild and scenic section of the river is
controlled by a permit section; only permit holders are allowed to use
the river to limit the amount of people through it per day. Permits
can be obtained through guide services. There are also numerous parks
to enjoy; Gold Rogue Sports Park, Ben Hur Lampman State Park, Rogue
State Park.. all have great picnic sites, tent sites, trailer sites
and of course, great fishing All Oregon State Park campgrounds are
open from mid-April to late October and more campground information is
available from Oregon State Park Campsite Information Center at
Be sure not to miss the Boatnik Festival, held in Grants Pass over the
Memorial weekend with parades, rafting, and other contests! And in
September, a sight not to forget.. .The Great Bath Tub Race, held from
Gold Hill to Rogue River. It's a wild and wooly race with winner take
all in prize money!
We hope you enjoyed our brief history and we're looking forward to
when you come up and experience the river life for yourself.
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