Rogue National Wild and Scenic River Lottery
By Tiffany Powers, Bureau of Land Management
A dramatic canyon landscape leads boaters down the Rogue's whitewater. (Bob Wick, BLM)
From the headwaters near Crater Lake National Park, the Rogue River flows 215 miles (346 km) to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, Oregon. The 84 miles (135 km) of the lower Rogue, beginning seven miles (11.2 km) west of Grants Pass and ending 11 miles (17.7 km) east of Gold Beach was one of the original eight rivers included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. It is also designated as an Oregon State Scenic Waterway. This portion of the river is managed cooperatively by the Bureau of Land Management’s Medford District and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Permits for the Rogue’s Wild Section
Unique among boating experiences, groups can float from lodge to lodge or camp along the Rogue River’s banks for the full wilderness experience. A permit is required whether floating the river as a private, self-guided group or as passengers of a fully outfitted, commercially guided trip.
“Rejuvenate your soul in one of the most beautiful and preserved stretches of land while experiencing the beauty of the wild and scenic Rogue River.”
Katie Hunter, Rogue River visitor
For the wild section of the Rogue River, the most remote and challenging whitewater, float permits are required annually from May 15 through October 15. This section of the river is accessed from Graves Bar and extends 33 miles (53.1 km) downriver to Foster Bar.
To help preserve the Rogue’s wild and scenic qualities, float permits for the high demand, control season are distributed through a lottery, which opens annually on December 1st and continues through January 31st. For those boaters wishing to float the river outside of the control season (May 15–October 15), self-issued permits are available at the Smullin Visitor Center and Grave Creek Boat Launch access.
Hiking along the Rogue River
In addition to spectacular scenery and thrilling whitewater, the wild section offers extraordinary fishing, swimming in secluded pools, and hiking on the Rogue River National Recreation Trail (PDF). Originally traveled by the Takelma Indians, the trail traverses the entire length of the wild section of the Rogue and stretches 40 miles (64.3 km) – winding through steep canyons, along cascading waterfalls and also near a Gold-Rush era historic site. A wild section float permit is required for Rogue River National Recreation Trail hikers if you are supported by boaters. A permit is not required if you are hiking the trail and are self-supported.
Galice to Hellgate Back Country Byway Driving Tour
Although access to the rugged Rogue National Wild and Scenic River is often experienced by boat or foot, the Galice to Hellgate Back Country Byway traverses these spectacular landscapes via a winding, paved route suitable for passenger cars. With access points along the river, the drive is an out-and-back trip totaling 80 miles (128.7 km) round-trip. Some sections of the route are single-lane, with occasional turnouts. Stop in the town of Merlin to fill up your gas tank and ensure you have extra food and water on-hand for this scenic and remote drive.
Wild Rogue River Permit Guidelines (11:24)
- Wild and Scenic River
- Whitewater rafting
- Rugged and remote terrain
- Merlin (20 minutes)
- Grants Pass (30 minutes)