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Upper Rogue Sub-basin

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south fk lil butteThe Upper Rogue sub-basin is a 1,613-square mile watershed that contains the headwaters and upper tributaries to the main stem of the Rogue River. The headwaters of the Rogue flow off of the west slopes of the Cascade Mountains and Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon.  Small parts of the watershed are within Douglas and Klamath counties, but the overwhelming majority of the watershed is within Jackson County.  The William L. Jess Dam, built in 1977, impounds the river 157 miles upriver from the Pacific Ocean to create Lost Creek Reservoir, which is a popular recreational spot and also listed by Oregon DEQ as water quality impaired by the presence of toxic algae.

The upper half of this watershed is sparsely populated and dominated by steep coniferous forests almost entirely within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and Crater Lake National Park.  As the river flows below the town of Prospect, the watershed shifts to a mix of BLM and private land ownership and small towns that make up the population base in this sub-basin.

Map of the Upper Rogue Sub-basin
The Upper Rogue Sub-basin

In 1988, Congress designated 40.3 miles of the Upper Rogue River— from the Crater Lake National Park boundary downstream to the National Forest boundary at Prospect—as Wild and Scenic. This section of the Rogue is paralleled by Highway 62. Its diverse landscape includes pumice flats, deep gorges and chutes, and unique ecological systems.

Some of the primary tributaries in the Upper Rogue include Elk Creek, Red Blanket, Trail, Antelope, Big Butte and Little Butte Creeks in addition to the North, South and Middle Forks of the Rogue River.  Towns within the watershed include Prospect, Butte Falls, Trail, Shady Cove and Eagle Point.

Rogue Riverkeeper is currently working within the Upper Rogue watershed to address urban stormwater, LNG development, toxic algae and bacteria pollution issues.

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