Ashland has ten lakes and five major rivers within a short drive that provide access to swimming, boating, kayaking, jetboating, rafting, fishing and more. To learn more see below about the Rogue River, Upper Klamath Rivers, Crater Lake National Park and the Mountain Lakes region (link) page for more in depth information regarding each lake. Whether you want to leisurely float, experience some awesome whitewater, fish or kayak, we have some of the best outfitters and guides available! Click here to visit our Water Adventure Members!
The Rogue Wild and Scenic River is best known for its outstanding natural scenery, fishing, whitewater boating, and wildlife and cultural resources. Eighty-four miles of the Rogue River was designated wild and scenic by Congress in 1968, under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, to preserve its outstanding qualities. The Applegate River (7 miles west of Grants Pass, Oregon) is the east boundary and Lobster Creek (11 mile east of Gold Beach, Oregon) is the west boundary. The area gets over half a million visitors, annually. Recreation opportunities include: driving for pleasure, boating, fishing, guided motorized tour boat trips, guided whitewater fishing and float trips, camping, hiking, swimming, picnicking, wildlife viewing, sun bathing and gold panning. The small towns of Galice and Agness are within the river corridor and have gas, lodging and food available May through September.
Recreation facilities include: 12 lodges, 1 RV Park, 10 campgrounds, camping and day use opportunities at 100 undeveloped sandy beaches along the banks of the river, 54 miles of trail, the Smullin Visitor Center at Rand, 4 National Historic Sites, the Rogue Wilderness and 15 boat launch sites.
Use of the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River is regulated each year, from May 15 through October 15, to protect the river corridor from overuse and to provide a wild river experience. During this time, 120 commercial and noncommercial users may obtain special-use permits to enter the Wild section each day. Permits for the regulated use period are originally allocated through a computer selection process, or “lottery.” The annual application period for the permit lottery is December 1 through January 31. From April 1 through October 14, available permits are distributed through a first-come/first-served telephone process. Permits and details on the permit process are available at: River Permits and Information Phone: 541-479-3735 Smullin Visitor Center at Randwww.or.blm.gov/Rogueriver
People travel from around the country to fish and fly fish on the Rogue River. Note the Key that lists the many fishing holes on this map. Or go with a Guide. A fishing license is required. Fishing licenses can be purchased at Ashland Fly shop in downtown Ashland, at BiMart in the Tolman Creek Plaza or go online to www.dfw.state.or.us . In the spring, Salmon run in May and June. Fall is the primary time for fishing with Chinook Salmon running in August and September and Coho Salmon in late October. Fall steelhead run September through the winter.
If you want to enjoy the river on boat, raft or kayak, there are many skilled guides and outfitters that offer half day, full day and multi day river trips for rafting and fishing. Many of them will pick you up in Ashland or are based here. Whether you are looking for a mellow afternoon float or exhilarating adventure, there is something for everyone. Go to www.ashlandchamber.com to find out more about getting on the river. Many local kayakers enjoy boating on the Rogue as well.
Most half day river trips starts below Lower Table Rock and concludes at Gold Hill. A scenic setting starting with mellow riffles and rapids, uniquely progressing from class 1 introductory rapids to the exciting but safe class IV whitewater. Walk around option is available on the two class IV rapids. Mellow stretches between the rapids allow river goers to play games, swim and enjoy river time. Beautiful scenery, sparsely populated and variety of birds and waterfowl add to the many memorable pleasures. Half day trips run 3 – 4 hours.
Full day trips run 6 – 7 hours and enable you to see more of the Rogue River or the Upper Klamath River east of Ashland. Most outfitters put in for the full day at Touvelle State Park and head downstream. After mellow rapids, the second half involves fun rapids including Powerhouse and takes out at Gold Hill.
There are many river features to enjoy on the Rogue River, some of which are on this section of the river noted on this map. The rapids range from Class I to Class V. Whether by raft, kayak or boat, it is important to know the river. The European Rapid Rating System Whitewater rapids are rated on a scale of one through six, indicating the difficulty of each rapid at medium water level. CLASS I Very Easy – small, regular waves and riffles; few or no obstacles; little maneuvering required. CLASS II Easy – small waves with some eddies, low ledges, and slow rock gardens; some maneuvering required. CLASS III Medium – numerous waves that are high and irregular; strong eddies; narrow, but clear passages that require expertise in maneuvering; scouting from the shore necessary. CLASS IV Difficult – long rapids with powerful, irregular waves, dangerous rocks, and boiling eddies; precise maneuvering and scouting from the shore imperative; take all possible safety precautions. CLASS V Very Difficult – long rapids with wild turbulence and extremely congested routes that require complex maneuvering; a danger to your life and boat and near the limits of navigation. CLASS VI The Limits of Navigation – rarely run; a definite hazard to your life. These definitions are constant and unchanging; however, personal interpretation can vary. The same rapid may be rated a Class III by one person and a Class IV by someone else. You must determine for yourself the degree of difficulty of any particular rapid. Remember that fluctuating water levels can change the difficulty ratings for rapids. Higher flows make the water more powerful and cover up more rocks. Lower water makes the rapids more technical with more rocks to miss. On the Rogue River, flows below 1,200 cfs are considered low; flows above 6,000 cfs are considered high. Normal spring and summer flows are usually between 4,000 and 1,200 cfs.
Touvelle State Recreation Site is a beautiful day-use park located on the bank of the Rogue River and at the foot of the geologically prominent Table Rocks. You can fish, swim, hike, watch wildlife and experience nature at its finest. An ideal spot for family gatherings and group picnics, the has a large picnic shelter with cooking facilities. There’s a smaller picnic kitchen and three sites with water and electricity. Denman Wildlife refuge is located next to the park and has local and migratory wildlife. A boat ramp with toilet facilities provides excellent access to the river.
Celebrating 100 years of National Parks in 2016, Oregon’s only National Park is a 1.5 hour drive from Ashland making it the perfectday trip destination to southern Oregon’s landmark that welcomes 480,000 visitors annually from around the world.
At 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest and clearest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world, holding 4.6 trillion gallons of water. Crater Lake was formed 7,700 years ago, when Mt. Mazama, a volcano, erupted in a cataclysmic eruption. During this eruption, so much material was evacuated from the internal magma chamber that afterwards, there was not enough left to support the remaining mountain. It collapsed and created the caldera that we now see today, half filled with water. Over many years, rainfall and snow melt filled the caldera leaving the intense blue water. The lake was originally named “Deep Blue Lake” by local Native Americans who revered it. In June 1852, prospectors hunting for gold, led by John Wesley Hillman, stumbled upon it. President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a national park May 22, 1902 making Crater Lake the fifth oldest national park.
Crater Lake is well known for its year-round recreational opportunities. In the winter months, snowshoeing, cross country and backcountry skiing can be enjoyed throughout the park, around the rim where accessible and open and by way of Ranger led snowshoe walks. Always be prepared with water, food, never travel alone, and dress accordingly.
Access to the park fluctuates seasonally and is dependent upon weather and snowfall. Crater Lake receives an average annual snowfall of 533” or 44’ most of which melts by August. To check the latest information on what entrances are open and how best to access the lake, go to www.nps.gov/crla.
Crater Lake Lodge offers dining and lodging with rooms typically booked out a year ahead of time due to the stunning views and popularity.
The most popular bicycle route at Crater Lake is the 33-mile Rim Drive. This road provides spectacular views of Crater Lake and the surrounding area throughout its length. The road is narrow with long, steep grades. Most cyclists start from the Park Headquarters area and ride around the lake clockwise. This direction puts one of the steepest and longest grades at the beginning of the trip. The Rim ranges from 6500’ to 7900’ elevation, is 33 miles long and about 1.5 hours if driving. For hikers and bikers, many camp mid-way around. Ride the Rim, car free day occurs each September where cyclists from all over the country come to ride the circumference of the lake without any vehicles. For the specific dates go to www.nps.gov/crla
Fish are not native to the lake. They were introduced in the lake from 1888-1941. Six species were originally stocked, but only two have survived to today: Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon. Because they are not native to the lake, fishing is not only allowed, it's encouraged. No license is required and there is no limit on how many you may catch - the only rule is that you must use artificial bait. They do not want anyone to accidentally introduce any other species into the lake. Fishing is allowed along the shoreline and on Wizard Island (with the purchase of a boat tour and Wizard Island ticket.
Swimming - There is only one place where it is safe and legal to get down to the lake shore. It is the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which usually opens mid to late June. The trail is 1.1 miles long and drops nearly 700 feet down to the lake shore. Visitors are welcome to swim in the lake from the shoreline at the end of this trail.
It is easy to find an enjoyable location whether you are camping in a tent or RV with two different campgrounds to choose from one of which is Mazama Village Campground www.nps.gov.
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) goes right through Crater Lake National Park. As a day hiker, you can access the PCT by way of trails that diverge right from the Rim as well as North Entrance Road and Annie Spring Entrance.
Crater Lake Trolley offers a 2 hour guided tour as you are escorted around the 33 mile Rim Drive. The second most exciting and unique way to enjoy the lake is by boat out to Wizard Island with a 2 hour guided Volcano boat tour. From the boat you can get up close and personal with the bluest water where visibility can be up to 140 feet in depth.
Culture and national beauty –On July 29 and 30, 2016, Britt Festivals will celebrate the unique majesty of Crater Lake when members of the Britt Orchestra and Music Director Teddy Abrams perform at the national park. Abrams will lead approximately 40 Britt Orchestra musicians in the performances, with the dramatic panorama of the entire lake as the backdrop. The musicians will perform a world premiere composition by New York-based composer Michael Gordon, commissioned by Britt and inspired by Crater Lake. Gordon will be an artist-in-residence at Crater Lake several times throughout the next year, to draw on the park for inspiration for his composition.
Road Trip South: The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (VLSB) begins at Crater Lake National Park and stretches 500 miles through Oregon to Mt. Lassen in Northern California showcasing the southern end of the Cascade mountain range. It passes lakes, diverse wetlands and scenic ranches all against a stunning backdrop of volcanic landscapes. The VLSB is just one of thirty one “All American Roads” in the USA. The All American Roads are so designated because of their unparalleled beauty and historical sightseeing value.