Portland District

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The project office is about 30 miles from Medford, Ore., at William L. Jess Dam at Lost Creek Lake. Office hours are 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., Mon. - Fri.

Phone: 541-878-2255

Email the Rogue River Basin Project 

100 Cole M. Rivers Dr.
Trail, OR  97541

Recreation in the Rogue River Basin

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation. Portland District's recreation sites allow visitors of all ages to enjoy the outdoors. Whatever your favorite outdoor activity, one thing is certain: recreation can enrich your life. Visit one of our recreation areas to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories. With more than 90 percent of our recreation areas located within 50 miles of a city or town, there is likely to be a Corps site near you. We invite you to visit us!

There are more than a dozen developed recreation sites within the Rogue River Basin Project. Available activities vary by location, but may include: camping, picnicking, boating, water skiing, fishing, swimming, hunting, hiking, biking, equestrian use and wildlife viewing.

Rules, policies and related information

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National Recreation Reservation Service logo

Search for and reserve available campsites at Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Campsites can be reserved up to 240 days in advance and group facilities up to 360 days in advance.

*Note: not all recreation sites take reservations.

All rules and regulations for the public use of Corps lands are described in Title 36, Chapter III, Part 327. The following document provides more detailed information specific to hunting on Corps lands within the Portland District. Hunters should be aware that some of the lands surrounding Corps reservoirs are managed by other County, State, and Federal agencies and different guidelines may apply. Hunters are responsible for recognizing private land boundaries and should not hunt on private land without permission of the landowner.

Questions about these guidelines should be directed to:

Bonneville Lock and Dam, 541-374-8344

The Dalles Lock and Dam, 541-506-7857

John Day Lock and Dam, 541-739-1135

Rogue River Basin Project, 541-878-2255

  • Information about hunting at Applegate project should be obtained from local U.S. Forest Service offices.
  • Rifle hunting is allowed in designated areas at Elk Creek and Lost Creek reservoir, with restrictions.

Willamette Valley Projects, 541-942-5631


333 SW 1st AVE
PORTLAND, OREGON 97201-2946 


CENWP-DE                                                                                                   27 September 2012

SUBJECT: Commander’s Policy Letter #19, Geocaching Within Portland District Boundaries

1. Purpose. Geocaching may be allowed on public lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 (CFR 36) and any applicable state or local rules and regulations, provided the activity is conducted in an unobtrusive manner. Geocaching can be an appropriate and compatible recreational activity on public land and water, as long as common sense guidelines are followed. Some Corps projects have used the popularity of the sport as an innovative tool to distribute information, such as water safety, in geocaches on Corps-managed lands.

2. Definition of Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor adventure activity for users of global positioning systems (GPS). Individuals and organizations set up geocaches (caches) all over the world and share their locations, often through the Internet. Numerous web sites are available, with one of the most popular being http://www.geocaching.com/. GPS users can then find the caches through published coordinates and site descriptions. Most commonly, a geocache is an object or container holding small objects for exchange. The finder may remove the enclosed "prize" and leave another, sign a logbook, or utilize a number of variations. Some "caches" are simply locations with unusual vegetation or unique land features the cache owner wants the cache hunter to experience (virtual caches). There is also a derivative form of the sport that searches for published coordinates of an existing historical monument, plaque, or benchmark.

While geocaching has become the standard name for the sport, other terms include Navicaching, GPS Orienteering, GPS Stash Hunt, and Benchmarking.

3. Policy. In accordance with 36 CFR 327.19 or 327.21, District Engineers, or their designees, may develop permit systems or policies to track and/or control placement of geocaches on project lands, provided this use does not conflict with project missions or security. Simplicity and ease of compliance should be emphasized. Information needed from the proposed geocache owner will include the cache coordinates (location), his/her name, and his/her address and phone number. The intent of collecting this information is to keep track of the location and number of caches on the project and to contact the owner if the cache needs to be removed. During application, the project should ask the proposed cache owner to provide a current picture form of identification with an address to confirm the applicant's identity. This information is voluntary; however, the applicant’s request can be denied for failure to comply with the information request. The project is required to store this information in a secure manner. Geocache objects or containers should be clearly identified as such when placed on public lands. Transparent containers are required, due to homeland security issues. Caches should not contain alcohol, illicit, or other inappropriate materials. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to work with the cache owners and jointly conduct periodic cache inspections to insure they are not being used for illicit and/or inappropriate purposes.

a. Individuals or groups that participate in geocaching activities on Corps property must be responsible for coordinating these activities with the Portland District, to help prevent potential conflicts with management activities (i.e., controlled burns, timber sales, planting, etc.)

4. Restrictions. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to establish designated areas where geocaching will be allowed and other areas where it will be restricted. Geocaching activities will not be allowed to occur in restricted areas where there could be conflicts with project missions, project security, or the safety of the general public.

Examples where geocaching would not be allowed include but are not limited to:

a. In designated restricted areas.

b. lf the cache, directly or indirectly, would negatively affect ecologically, environmentally, or socially sensitive areas (i.e., threatened or endangered species, critical habitats, cultural resources, tribal lands without consent, etc.).

c. In areas with potential safety risks, such as unstable banks, cliffs, or other hazards.

d. Where geocaching activities may interfere with established public uses, such as boat launching, picnicking, swimming, etc.

f. Where geocaching activities may interfere with the operation or security of the project.

5. Management Considerations. Management considerations at individual projects may require other permanent or temporary measures to ensure that geocaching activities are compatible with other project uses. For example, a project may need to prohibit geocaching during active management in an area for timber harvest, prescribed burning, hunting, or other wildlife management activities. Some projects may want to encourage and actively participate in geocaching activities to promote the Corps message in a positive way.

a. In certain instances, it may be necessary to issue a Special Event Permit in compliance with Title 36, 327.21. Conditions that may warrant the need for a Special Event Permit may include one-time activities that are publicly advertised, commercial in nature, involve large numbers of participants, provide cash prizes or other significant awards, or may potentially conflict with other uses of an area, etc.

b. If a cache must be removed from public lands for operational, safety, environmental, cultural, or other reason, a reasonable effort should be made to contact the cache owner and request removal. If the owner cannot be found, or the cache is not removed within a reasonable time, the cache may be removed and impounded as abandoned property, under 36 CFR 327.15.

6. Summary. In general, geocaching can be a fun and appropriate recreational activity at Corps projects, provided the security or missions of the project are not compromised. It provides an opportunity for positive interactions and partnerships with local groups involved in this activity.

Monitoring of web sites, communication and participation with these groups can form healthy relationships with benefits to all involved. Working with these groups can prevent problems and promote the Corps as a willing partner. Regulation should be based on common-sense needs of specific projects or areas, with a minimal permitting burden on the recreating public.

Questions about these guidelines should be directed to:

Bonneville Lock and Dam, 541-374-8344

The Dalles Lock and Dam, 541-506-7857

John Day Lock and Dam, 541-739-1135

Rogue River Basin Project, 541-878-2255

Willamette Valley Projects, 541-942-5631


These five steps will help you to anchor safely:

  1. Use anchor lines that are 5-7 times the depth of the water.
    1. Use a float for the anchor line to serve as a buffer and to reduce the risk of getting the anchor line tangled in the propeller.

    2. Lower, do not throw, the anchor to avoid tangles in the line.

    3. Anchor only off the point of the bow. Anchoring off the stern or the side will capsize your boat.

  2. Power upstream of anchor before retrieving it. Maintain position in line with the flow of the current while retrieving anchor. Turning cross-wise to the current increases the risk of capsizing.

  3. Rivers can become turbulent with little or no warning. You are advised to wear a Coast Guard-approved Personal Flotation Device at all times. Also, take precautions against hypothermia. River temperatures can range from 70 degrees in the summer to near freezing during the winter.

  4. River users are reminded that although it is legal to anchor in the channel, it is illegal to block the right-of-way of a vessel that is restricted to using the channel.

  5. Five blasts of the horn signify danger, and you must take action to avoid that danger.

For more tips, visit the Corps of Engineers National Water Safety website.

Click here for a print version of this information.

Day-use fees, including boat ramp and dump station fees, will be collected while parks are available for camping. No fees are collected during park closure dates. Some boat ramps outside fee campgrounds will charge a $3 launch fee per day, which is valid at any Corps-managed recreation site for day it was purchased.

Some designated swim beaches outside fee campgrounds may charge a use fee of $1 per person over the age of 12 or in a vehicle up to $4. However, if a vehicle has more than 8 passengers over the age of 12, there will be a fee of $1 for each additional individual over the age of 12.

All fees have been set to maintain comparable fee schedules with other federal, state, county and private campgrounds. All fees meet the requirements set in Engineering Publication 1130-2-550. Fee comparability within the same state and district is outlined in Paragraph 9 of EP 1130-2-550.

Seaplanes may be operated seven days a week between sunrise and sunset at all Portland District lakes with the exception of Big Cliff, Applegate and Willow Creek lakes. Once on the water seaplanes shall be considered powerboats and must be operated in accordance with marine rules of the road. Seaplanes in the water may taxi to any area of the lake subject to the powerboating restrictions for those lakes. For more information, see: Seaplane operations at Corps of Engineers lakes.


If you're enthusiastic about the outdoors, enjoy meeting new people and want to protect parks, then sign up to be a volunteer!
Click here for a listing of current volunteer opportunities at Portland District Park and Corps sites across the country. 

For both safety and security reasons, the operation of aircraft, including drones (formally known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems) may not be operated within 500 feet of operational areas at Corps projects. This includes land with structures such as dams. Click here for the complete District policy memo.

The Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service and other agencies cooperatively gather and analyze data for current and projected future reservoir and river level information.

Know before you go!

Reservoir and water levels

Northwest River Forecast Center

National Weather Service


Lost Creek and Jess Dam recreation

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Life jackets are available seasonally (i.e., during summer months); contact parks for detailed dates of operation. Life jackets are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Joseph H. Stewart State Park boat ramp: Located on Oregon State Hwy. 62, 35 miles northeast of Medford (approximately 12 miles from Trail, Ore.).

Takelma Park boat ramp: At 3970 Rogue River Dr., Shady Cove, Ore., 19 miles northeast of Medford via Oregon State Hwy. 62. Turn left on Hwy. 234, turn right on Rogue River Dr., and continue for 3 miles north of Dodge Bridge.


Overlooking Lost Creek Reservoir, this area is surrounded by wildlife, large conifer trees and mountains. Hike or bike the 11-mile trail system through the forest with year-round streams and wildlife viewing. Take a swim in cool mountain water, rent a boat from the marina, or troll the 10-mile lake for trout and bass. If you prefer, bring your own boat and water skis.

Operating hours: Open from March 1 through Oct. 31.

Directions: From Medford, take OR-62 East towards Crater Lake/Klamath Falls for 33 miles. Park will be on the left.

For more information, call the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's general information line at 800-551-6949 or see http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_30.php


The park is located on State Highway 62, the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, near Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery. Dedicated in July 1977, McGregor Park was specifically designed for the convenience of visitors with disabilities. Restrooms and trash service enhance the picnic tables and grills scattered throughout the park. The visitor center displays information about local plants, wildlife, geology, and cultural history, and provides information about recreational opportunities. An interpretive trail is a short walk from the visitor center, with information about local river ecology and all the wildlife, insects, birds and plants that rely on the waterway.

Operating hours: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend; please call for current daily hours.

Directions: From Medford, take OR-62 East for about 30 miles. Turn left on Takelma Drive. Visitor Center will be on the right.

For more information, contact the Rogue River Basin Project Office at 541-878-2255 or email dll-cenwp-rogue-rangers@usace.army.mil.

River’s Edge Park, just downriver from William L. Jess Dam, is a great place to host a family get-together, summer picnic or birthday party. The park's group pavilion is available by reservation from Memorial Day to Labor Day; each year's reservations are accepted starting Jan. 1. Availability is first-come, first-served; weddings are allowed with a permit.

Directions: From Medford, take Oregon State Hwy. 62 east for about 30 miles. Turn left on Takelma Dr. and follow the signs for the project office. The park will be on the left.

Reserve the group pavilion by calling 541-878-2255 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by emailing: dll-cenwp-rogue-rangers@usace.army.mil

Applegate recreation

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Applegate Reservoir is 988 acres in size and extends to the California border. A hiking trail follows the 18-mile shoreline. Motorcycles are permitted only on the trail leading to Stein Butte. Horses are permitted on the Stein Butte, Collings Mountain and Da-Ku-Be-Te-De trails. Paved trails and other barrier-free facilities are provided at the day use areas so that they may be enjoyed by all visitors.

Development at most of the recreation sites is minimal and most of the lakeshore is maintained in a natural state. To help preserve its rustic nature, a 10-mph speed limit for all boats is in effect. 

Recreation facilities at Applegate are operated by the U.S. Forest Service. For more information about these locations, contact the Star Ranger Station, 6914 Upper Applegate Rd., Jacksonville, Ore. 97530, (541) 899-3800.

Boat ramps: There is one year-round boat ramp at Copper, near Watkins Campground on the southwest shore. A ramp east of the dam near French Gulch Campground is usually used when the water is low.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie and rainbow trout can be caught.

Directions: Take OR-238 West from Medford for about 10 miles. Turn left at Upper Applegate Rd. and follow it for about 20 miles. 

Reservoir elevation, flow and temperature report: 800-472-2434.

Located along Carberry Creek, the campground features hiking and fishing. Parking for self-contained RVs is available. Facilities include vault toilets, well water and 10 tent sites. Please remember to pack your drinking water in and to pack your garbage out.

Directions: From Jacksonville, go seven miles south on OR 238, then 20 miles south on Upper Applegate Rd.

The Collings Mountain Trail features views of the Siskiyou Crest and Applegate Lake. Beginning at the Hart-Tish Park picnic area, the trail crosses Upper Applegate Road and drops down to Grouse Creek. An abandoned miner's cabin and inactive Sasquatch trap are about 3/4 mile up the trail.

Do not enter any of the mine adits along the trail. Leaving Grouse Creek, the trail climbs steeply for one mile to the ridgetop, gaining 1,000 feet in elevation before it begins a long traverse of the western slope of Collings Mountain. After traversing below the ridgeline for two miles, the trail then descends steadily for three miles to Watkins Campground. This last half mile of trail passes through the 62-acre Watkins fire that burned in 1981. Beware of poison oak, ticks and snakes along this trail.

Directions: West of Jacksonville, Oregon, turn off Hwy. 238 onto Upper Applegate Rd. and proceed to Applegate Lake. The trail begins at the Hart-Tish Park picnic area.

This trail is a beautiful, easy day hike that traverses the western shore of Applegate Lake. Beginning at Swayne Viewpoint, the trail passes the Hart-Tish boat ramp in a half-mile. Proceed through the parking lot and rejoin the trail on a paved walkway along the lake, passing an interpretive viewpoint. The paved trail ends at the lawn above the swimming area and resumes directly across the lawn, where pavement is replaced by gravel surfacing. The trail then follows the lakeshore, crossing the Copper Boat Ramp and continues along the high-water line before reaching Watkins Campground. Just before reaching the campground, the trail passes over a footbridge and intersects a quarter mile loop trail that circles the campground. Follow the trail to the right in order to reach the parking area. Be aware of poison oak, ticks and snakes along this trail.

Directions: From Ruch, travel south on County Rd. 859 eight miles past the Star Ranger Station to the Swayne Viewpoint parking area. The trailhead is located at the south end of the parking lot near the restrooms.
French Gulch activities include hiking, mountain biking and boating. The boat ramp is closed until the lake level drops below 1,940 feet (above sea-level) in the fall. Facilities include well water, vault toilets, and nine tent sites.

Directions: From Ruch, travel south on County Rd. 859, Upper Applegate Rd. Continue 15 miles to Applegate Lake and turn left on County Rd. 959 (traveling across the dam). Continue along Rd. 959 about one mile to the campground.

The Grouse Loop Trail offers a pleasant hike with good views of the mountains surrounding Applegate Lake. Beginning at Upper Applegate Road across from Hart-Tish Park, the trail travels 300 feet to a loop junction. The left fork of the trail begins a gentle one mile uphill grade, gaining 700 feet in elevation. This gentle climb features a shallow basin of old growth Douglas fir and Sugar and Ponderosa pine. From the ridgeline, there are good views of Elliott Creek Ridge and Red Butte. Leaving the ridgeline, the trail begins a moderate descent back to Hart-Tish Park.

Directions: Travel south from Jacksonville on Hwy 238 to Ruch and turn left on to Upper Applegate Rd. Continue 16 miles to Hart-tish Park; the trail begins across Upper Applegate Rd. from Hart-Tish Park.

The Harr Point Campground is on the east shore of Applegate Lake and accessible by boat and trail only. This is a semi-primitive site with five tent sites and no drinking water or garbage service. Please remember to pack your drinking water in and to pack your garbage out.  The site remains open with reduced maintenance from November through mid-May.

Directions: From Ruch, travel south on County Rd. 859, Upper Applegate Rd., for about 15 miles to Applegate Lake and turn left on County Rd. 959 (traveling across the dam). Continue along Rd. 959 about 3 miles and turn right on to Forest Service Rd. 100. Continue about a half-mile along Rd. 100 to Squaw Arm Parking Area. Hike about a quarter mile west along Payette Trail to the campground.
Hart-Tish is a well-developed and popular recreation area with an extensive day use area, a boat ramp and a small campground. The camping area has three walk-in tent sites and a parking area for self-contained RVs. Hart-Tish Park is one of the few Forest Service parks with several acres of groomed lawn sloping down to the water's edge. Facilities include piped water, flush toilets, three tent sites, seven RV sites, and three picnic sites. The boat ramp is usable until the lake drops below 1,928 feet (above sea-level) or when the facility is closed for winter.

Directions: From Ruch, travel south on County Rd. 859, Upper Applegate Rd., for 16 miles to the campground.
Located on the east shore of Applegate Lake, the Latgawa Cove Campground is accessible only by boat and trail (about a half-mile hike). Latwaga Cove is a semi-primitive camping area with no drinking water or garbage service. Please remember to pack your drinking water in and to pack your garbage out.

Directions:From Ruch, travel south on County Rd. 859, Upper Applegate Rd., about 15 miles to Applegate Lake. Turn left onto County Rd. 959 and continue two miles to trailhead. It is about a half-mile hike to the campground.
Payette Trail passes through a mixed conifer and hardwood forest. The trail continues along the shoreline for three-and-a-half miles to the parking area at Squaw Arm. The trail intersects a fire road. Options for following either the road or trail exist for approximately two miles before arriving at the Squaw Arm parking area. This section of trail offers good views of Applegate Lake, and the Kinney and Collings mountains. It's a good section of trail to view autumn colors.

Directions: From Star Ranger Station, drive south on Upper Applegate Rd. eight miles to the Applegate Dam and Squaw Lake turnoff. Turn left, crossing the dam and continue one mile to French Gulch Campground.
Located on a small stream, the Stringtown Campground offers hiking, fishing and a horse camp. Facilities include vault toilets, four tent sites and two RV sites. A hiking and mountain biking trail follows the eastern shoreline of the reservoir, connecting to other trails for several interesting loop hikes. There are horse facilities at the campground and the trailhead.

Directions: From Jacksonville, go about 7 miles south on OR 238, 15 miles south on Upper Applegate Rd., 3 miles east on County Rd. 959, then about a half-mile south on Forest Rd. 100.
The Tipsu Tyee Campground can be reached only by boat or trail. Facilities include vault toilets and five tent sites. There is no drinking water available.

Directions: From Ruch, travel south on County Rd. 859, Upper Applegate Rd., about 15 miles to Applegate Lake and turn left on County Rd. 959 (traveling across the dam). Continue along Rd. 959 about 3 miles and turn right on to Forest Service Rd. 100. Continue about a half-mile along Rd. 100 to Squaw Arm Parking Area. Hike about 1.25 miles west along Payette Trail #970 to the campground.
Located on Applegate Lake, the Watkins Campground features hiking and mountain biking. Facilities include well water, vault toilets, and 14 tent sites. The site is open during the off-season with no fee required, but there will be no drinking water or garbage service. Please remember to pack your drinking water in and to pack your garbage out.

Directions: From Ruch, travel south for 19 miles on County Rd. 859, Upper Applegate Rd., to the campground.