Rafting Mule Creek Canyon on the lower Rogue
Soggy Sneakers: A Paddler's Guide to Oregon's Rivers lists several whitewater runs of varying difficulty along the upper, middle, and lower Rogue River and its tributaries. The longest run, on the main stem of the river downstream of Grants Pass, is "one of the best-known whitewater runs in the United States". Popular among kayakers and rafters, the 35-mile (56 km) run consists of class 3+ rapids separated by more gentle stretches and deep pools. Its entire length is classified Wild and Scenic.
The Wild section of the lower Rogue River runs for 33.8 miles (54.4 km) between Grave Creek and Watson Creek. To protect the river from overuse, a maximum of 120 commercial and noncommercial users a day are allowed to run this section. To enter it, boaters must obtain a special-use permit allocated through a random-selection process and pick it up at the Smullin Visitor Center, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Interstate 5 on the Merlin–Galice Road, at the Rand Ranger Station downstream of Galice. Other sections of the river are open to jetboats. A Gold Beach company offers commercial jetboat trips of up to 104 miles (167 km) round-trip on the lower Rogue River. Another company offers jetboat excursions on the Hellgate section of the river below Grants Pass.
Rental cabins in the Union Creek Historic District along the Upper Rogue Trail
The Upper Rogue River Trail, a National Recreation Trail, closely follows the river for about 40 miles (64 km) from its headwaters at the edge of Crater Lake National Park to the boundary of the Rogue River National Forest at the mountain community of Prospect. Highlights along the trail include a river canyon cut through pumice deposited by the explosion of Mount Mazama about 8,000 years ago; the Rogue Gorge, lined with black lava, and Natural Bridge, where the river flows through a 250-foot (76 m) lava tube. Between Farewell Bend and Natural Bridge, the trail passes through the Union Creek Historic District, a site with early 20th-century resort buildings and a former ranger station that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Lower Rogue River Trail, a National Recreation Trail of 40 miles (64 km), runs parallel to the river from Grave Creek to Illahe, in the Wild Rogue Wilderness, 27 miles (43 km) northwest of Grants Pass. The roadless area through which the trail runs is managed by the Siskiyou National Forest and the Medford District of the federal Bureau of Land Management and covers 224 square miles (580 km2) including 56 square miles (150 km2) of designated federal wilderness. Backpackers use the trail for multiple-day trips, while day hikers take shorter trips. In addition to scenery and wildlife, features include views of rapids and "frantic boaters", lodges at Illahe, Clay Hill Rapids, Paradise Creek, and Marial, and the Rogue River Ranch and museum. Hikers can take jet boats from Gold Beach to some of the lodges between May and November. The trail connects to many shorter side trails as well as to the 27-mile (43 km) Illinois River Trail south of Agness. Hikers can also take trips along the Rogue that combine backpacking and rafting.
Rogue River Trail 1168 continues west 12 miles (19 km) along the north side of the river from Agness to the Morey Meadow Trailhead. Forest Road 3533 provides a hiking route between the trailhead and the Lobster Creek Bridge, 5.8 miles (9 km) further west. The Rogue River Walk is about a 6-mile (10 km) trail along the south side of the river continues west to a trailhead about 4.7 miles (8 km) east of Gold Beach.
Sport fishing on the Rogue River varies greatly depending on the location. In many places, fishing is good from stream banks and gravel bars, and much of the river is also fished from boats. Upstream of Lost Creek Lake, the main stem, sometimes called the North Fork, supports varieties of trout. Between Lost Creek Lake and Grants Pass there are major fisheries for spring and fall Chinook salmon, and Coho salmon from hatcheries, summer and winter steelhead, and large resident rainbow trout. The river between Grants Pass and Grave Creek has productive runs of summer and winter steelhead and Chinook, as well as good places to fish for trout. From Grave Creek to Foster Bar, all but the lower 15 miles (24 km) of which is closed to jetboats, anglers fish for summer and winter steelhead, spring and fall Chinook, and Coho. Near Agness, the river produces large catches of immature steelhead known as "half-pounders" that return from the ocean to the river in August in large schools. The lower river has spring and fall Chinook, as well as perch, lingcod, and crab near the ocean.
Rogue River near Indian Mary Park in Josephine County
Parks along the Rogue River, which begins in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park, include Prospect State Scenic Viewpoint, a forested area 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Prospect with a hiking trail leading to waterfalls and the Rogue River. The Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation Area has campsites overlooking Lost Creek Lake. Casey State Recreation Site offers boating, fishing, and picnic areas along the river 29 miles (47 km) northeast of Medford. TouVelle State Recreation Site is a day-use park along the river at the base of Table Rocks and adjacent to the Denman Wildlife Area, about 9 miles (14 km) north of Medford. Valley of the Rogue State Park, 12 miles (19 km) east of Grants Pass, is built around 3 miles (4.8 km) of river shoreline.
Between Grants Pass and the Hellgate Recreation Area, Josephine County manages two parks, Tom Pearce and Schroeder, along the river. Hellgate, 27 miles (43 km) long, begins at the confluence of the Rogue and Applegate rivers about 7 miles (11 km) west of Grants Pass. This stretch of the Rogue, featuring class I and II rapids, 11 access points for boats, 4 parks and campgrounds managed by Josephine County, ends at Grave Creek, where the Wild Rogue Wilderness begins. Indian Mary Park, part of the Josephine County park system, has tent sites, yurts, and spaces for camping vehicles on 61 acres (25 ha) along the Merlin–Galice road at Merlin. The other three Josephine County parks in the Hellgate Recreation Area are Whitehorse, across from the mouth of the Applegate River; Griffin, slightly downstream of Whitehorse, and Almeda, downstream of Indian Mary.