U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Rogue River National Forest


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Forest Information

The Rogue River National Forest (of Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest) is located in south western Oregon with a small section in northern California. In Oregon, the Forest consists of 575,445 acres; in California, it consists of 53,796 acres. There are 54 developed campgrounds of which 11 meet the selection criteria.

The beauty of the land and power of the river make the Rogue River National Forest a great place for a forest camping experience. Whether used by a family for a fun vacation or an individual looking for solitude or a challenge, the Rogue River National Forest has many camping locations and a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Glorious scenery, fascinating geology, and an interesting history combine with miles of trails, numerous developed campgrounds, Rogue River-Umpqua Scenic Byway (a.k.a. State Route 230) and Crater Lake National Park, make Rogue River National Forest a place worth visiting.

The geology of Rogue River National Forest gives it two distinct areas. There are narrow canyons, high grass-covered steep ridges, and Applegate Lake reservoir in the Forest's southern area. In the northeast, the Cascade Range's gentle slopes, dense forest of magnificent pine, and a volcanic past, give a very different look to the Forest.

The Applegate Lake Reservoir offers visitors a variety of excellent water play opportunities. The scenic area surrounding the Lake contains many trails, a few special places, and a couple of nice developed campgrounds. One is campground is a tent-only campground called Watkins. Here, sites are scattered up a hillside and are tucked in among towering Douglas fir trees. There is no direct access to Applegate Lake but the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De (pronounced Daw-Kew-Bee-Tee-Dee) trail, with its pleasant up-close views of the Applegate area, make this a popular campground. Da-Ku-Be-Te-De trail was named for a small band of Native people who lived in the area. The nearby Collings Mountain Trail, named for two brothers who mined in the vicinity, and Grouse Loop Trail, a pleasant three-mile hike through an old- growth forest, offer access to another perspective of the area.

Two day trips in the Applegate Lake area illustrate the area's diverse history and varied vegetation. Gin Lin Mining trail commemorates the gold fever that swept through the area, the use of hydraulic mining techniques, and the Chinese mining boss by the same name. This interpretative trail is a walk through "Gold Rush" history. By contrast, Miller Lake Trail celebrates the area's botanical diversity. Here, Sugar pine, White and Douglas fir thrive and rare Brewers spruce, along with brush species of Oracle and Saddlers Oak, can also be found along this trail.

Where the Applegate Lake area has steep ridges and views that go on forever, the area to the northeast, in the Cascade Range, features gentler slopes, dense forests, and clear views of its volcanic history. This history is clearly seen in the pumice rock dotting Doe Point and Fish Lake campgrounds and in the lava flows beside the adjacent highway. Mt. Brown's gentle profile fills the southern horizon while, to the north, the towering Mt. McLoughlin, centerpiece of the Sky Lakes Wilderness, watches over the campgrounds. These now quiet volcanoes are so young they are almost unmarked by erosion.

Following the Cascade Range northward, tucked in among grand old Douglas fir and cedars is a sweet little campground named Whiskey Springs. With its beaver-made pond and thick stand of fir, the campground has a pleasantly tranquil feel. The tiny Willow Prairie Horse Camp campground is designed for equestrian campers; it has a network of horse trails, some leading into the Sky Lakes Wilderness.

Along the Rogue River-Umpqua Scenic Byway, as it follows the Wild and Scenic Upper Rogue River, are a series of delightful developed campgrounds. Little Mill Creek campground, the closest campground to the community of Prospect, is rustic but since it stretches along Mill Creek in a pleasant mixture of fir, cedar, and maple tree, some consider it the most attractive campground along the Byway. River Bridge campground, off the beaten path and next to a "lazy flowing" section of the Rogue River, could challenge that statement. Even further off the beaten track is Abbott Creek campground. Here, some camp sites are tucked in among large conifers with others bordering large open meadows making it spectacular in the Fall. Natural Bridge campground has been a popular camping and day use area for decades. Stretching almost a mile along Rogue River, the campground has a lava tube where the river flows through, thus, Natural Bridge.

Of the Byway's campgrounds, Union Creek and Farewell Bend are closest to Crater Lake National Park and are good base camps from which to explore the Park. Union Creek campground, in the Union Creek Historic District, is within walking distance of Union Creek with its Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) era structures. The CCC Community Kitchen structure, located behind the pre-CCC era Becky's Cafe (known for its homemade pies), is a great example of the enrollee's workmanship. Close by is a trail where the Rogue River tumbles through basalt rock in a narrow canyon called Rogue Gorge.

While the Byway is a beautiful drive through a cathedral of towering pines on the way to Crater Lake National Park, there is much to see just off the route. Spectacular waterfalls, such as Mill Creek Falls and Natural Creek Falls, are worth the hike to them. Each of the area's hiking trails seems to have some special feature. The longest and most popular trail is the Upper Rogue River trail that follows the river through old-growth forests, past rapids and quiet pools. And unique geological features, such as Rabbit Ears and 400 foot banks of white pumice ash, seem to be all around.

Visitors to the Rogue River National Forest find much to do besides exploring Crater Lake National Park. This is a place of breathtaking beauty, amazing geology, and wonder. With each trip to Rogue River National Forest, visitors discover another reason to return. Come and discover a few reasons for yourself.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 3040 Biddle Rd. Medford, Oregon 97504 541-618-2200 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Siskiyou Mountains Star Ranger Station 6941 Upper Applegate Rd. Jacksonville, Oregon 97530 541-899-3800 High Cascades - Butte Falls Office P.O. Box 227 730 Laurel St. Butte Falls, Oregon 97522 541-865-2700 High Cascades - Prospect Office 47201 Highway 62 Prospect, Oregon 97536 541-560-3400

Fred and Suzi Dow