Rogue River National Forest
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A wide variety of recreation opportunities are available in the Rogue River National Forest, including fishing, swimming, hiking and skiing. There are
over 40 developed campgrounds and picnic grounds. The Forest contains approximately 400 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail runs the entire length of the Forest, through the remote back country of the Sky Lakes Wilderness along the spine of the High Cascades, and extends westward along the crest of the Siskiyou Mountains. Other remote sections of the Forest include the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness and, to the south, the Red Buttes Wilderness in the rugged headwaters of the Applegate River. Downhill skiing (at Mt. Ashland Ski Area), cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are popular wintertime activities.
The 630,000-acre Rogue River National Forest provides a rich diversity of scenery and recreational opportunities. On the west, the Forest includes the headwaters of the Applegate River, within the ancient and complex geology of the Siskiyou Mountains. This is a country of narrow canyons and high, steep ridges. Elevations range from 1,600 feet on the Applegate River to 7,533 at the summit of Mount Ashland (the highest point in Oregon west of the Cascades). The variety of environments includes open oak woodlands, dense conifer forests, and barren, rocky ridgetops.
To the east, the Forest contains the upper reaches of the Rogue River, located along the slopes of the younger, volcanic Cascade Range. Although the southern Cascades tend to have fairly gentle relief, several deep canyons, such as the Middle Fork of the Rogue and the South Fork of Little Butte Creek, are located in this part of the Forest. The highest point (9,495 feet) is the top of Mt. McLoughlin, one of the major volcanic cones in the Oregon Cascades. The area’s extensive forest of Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine and other conifers is enlivened by occasional meadows, lakes and meandering streams.
Northeast of Medford, the scenic route along Highways 62 and 230 provides access to the spectacular beauty of the Wild and Scenic Upper Rogue River, Crater Lake National Park and popular recreation developments at Diamond Lake on the Umpqua National Forest. Less than one hour’s drive southwest of Medford is Applegate Lake, a 988-acre reservoir which offers swimming, hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing and boating in the dramatic setting of the Siskiyous. The Siskiyou Loop Discovery Tour provides a scenic, self-guided driving tour of these mountains.
Sky Lakes Wilderness (113,590 acres) straddles southern Oregon’s Cascade Range from Crater Lake National Park southward to Highway 140. Elevations range from 3,800 feet in the canyon of the Middle Fork of the Rogue River, to a lofty 9,495 feet at the top of Mount McLoughlin. More than 200 pools of water, from mere ponds to lakes of 30 to 40 acres, dot the landscape. Fourmile Lake, near the southern end of the area exceeds 900 acres.
Red Buttes Wilderness, is a land of craggy peaks, cold mountain streams and extensive stands of old-growth forests with occasional meadows and other openings. Situated in both Oregon and California, Red Buttes Wilderness (20,230 acres) includes the jagged crest of the Siskiyou Mountains along the watershed divide between the Rogue River and Klamath River drainages. The wilderness is 13 miles long and six miles wide, with elevations ranging from about 2,800 feet above sea level in the Butte Fork Canyon to almost 6,740 feet at the east summit of the Red Buttes.
: Climate on the Rogue River National Forest changes with elevation. Much of the precipitation comes from October to April in the form of rain at the low elevations and as snow in the higher elevations where very cold temperatures are possible. Although snow is possible in the lowest elevations, it is infrequent. Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days with moderate temperatures.
Location: The Rogue River National Forest surrounds much of the Rogue Valley in southwestern Oregon. The Forest, which includes about 53,800 acres in California, is easily reached from Medford, Oregon and nearby communities along Interstate 5.
Contact Info: Rogue River National Forest333 West 8th StreetMedfordOR97501541-858-2200
What’s around here? Location & Nearby Things to See & Do
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