Description - The Siskiyou National Forest embodies the most complex soils, geology, landscape, and plant communities in the Pacific Northwest. World-class rivers, biological diversity, fisheries, and complex watersheds rank the Siskiyou high in the nation as an outstanding resource. The Siskiyou National Forest is located in the Klamath Mountains and the Coast Ranges of Southwestern Oregon with a small segment of the Forest extending into Northwestern California and the Siskiyou Mountain Range. The Siskiyou Forest Reserve was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, and the Reserve was designated as the Siskiyou National Forest in 1907. The Forest holds 1,163,484 acres within its boundaries, 69,234 acres of which are privately owned or managed by other government agencies.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Floating a river on the Siskiyou National Forest
The Siskiyou is the most floristically diverse National Forest in the country. During his studies here in 1950, Dr. Robert Whittaker found that only the Great Smokey Mountains rival the Siskiyou in plant diversity. The old and complex geology, the global position and transverse orientation of the Siskiyou Mountain Range across the Forest region are responsible for creating this myriad of species. Geologic parent rocks range in age from 200 million years old to the recent ice-age alluviums that are about 50,000 years old. The rocks vary in composition from granitics to the metamorphosed peridotites (serpentine) that support the habitat for many of the sensitive species of plants. By contrast, much of the Cascade Range (a mere 60 million years old) is composed of relatively recent igneous rocks, and the Coastal Ranges are dominated by sedimentary rocks.
Together the varied geological substrate and the climatic extremes provide a range of niches for the rich reservoir of genetic material. There are 28 different coniferous species, 20 of which are used commercially. Of the approximately 400 sensitive plants in the region, about 100 are found in the Siskiyous. In contrast, the Siuslaw National Forest supports approximately 20. There are 15 plant series that can be divided into 92 plant associations, each of which vary in potential and react to management activities differently. The Siskiyou Mountains are one of the most biologically challenging areas to manage.
- Encompassing portions of the Klamath Mountains, the Coast Ranges and the Siskiyou Mountains, the Siskiyou National Forest embodies the most complex soils, geology, landscape, and plant communities in the Pacific Northwest. World-class rivers, biological diversity, fisheries, and complex watersheds rank the Siskiyou high in the Nation as an outstanding resource.
The Siskiyou National Forest hosts some of the world's finest rivers for whitewater sports. The rivers are also renowned for their salmon, trout and steelhead fishing. Cutting across the Coast Range and the Siskiyou National Forest, the Wild and Scenic Rogue River begins near Crater Lake in the Cascade Mountains and splashes its way to the Pacific Ocean. The Wild and Scenic Illinois River runs from the southeast
portion of the Forest, across the Coast Range in a northwestern direction to its confluence with the Rogue River close to the Pacific Ocean. The Wild Section of the Illinois River runs for 29 miles through forests and steep canyons.
Around one-fifth of the Siskiyou National Forest is designated wilderness. The 180,000 acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness is characterized by deep rough canyons, sharp rock ridges, and clear rushing streams and rivers. Elevations in the Kalmiopsis range from 400 to 5,100 feet. In the 36,500 acre Wild Rogue Wilderness, look for diverse flora and fauna among the near vertical cliffs, razor-sharp ridges and cascading waters of numerous mountain creeks of the Rogue River watershed. The 17,200 acre Grassy Knob Wilderness is located in the Coast Range and consists of very steep, rugged terrain and dense vegetation. The Red Buttes Wilderness is located within the Siskiyou Mountains. The area is characterized by steep ridges and mountains, and is dominated by Red Buttes (6,739 feet) and Kangaroo Mountain (6,694 feet), the highest peaks in the area. The Siskiyou Wilderness is located in the highest portion of the Siskiyou Mountains in Northern California and is shared by three National Forests: the Klamath, the Six Rivers and the Siskiyou. The area is characterized by high craggy peaks, small glacial cirque lakes and soft mountain meadows.
Accessible Facilities: The Siskiyou National Forest offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities for people with disabilities and limited abilities. From camping, fishing, hiking, rafting or just enjoying a nice picnic in the woods, the Siskiyou has barrier-free sites to enjoy!
Recreation - Camping: The Siskiyou has established campgrounds located throughout the Forest. If you prefer more solitude or want to explore the backcountry, most of the Forest is open for dispersed or backcountry camping. Some regulations apply. Typically, dispersed camping is NOT allowed in the vicinity of developed recreation areas such as campgrounds, picnic areas or trailheads.
Fishing: Some of the largest salmon in the lower 48 states swim up the rivers of the Siskiyou National Forest every year. Winter steelhead runs on the Chetco, spring and fall runs of Chinook salmon on the Rogue and Illinois rivers bring thousands of anglers to the Siskiyou each year to cast their lines in the water.
Rafting/Kayaking: The Wild Section of the Rogue River is one of the most popular whitewater runs in the world. It's popularity is heightened by a steady water level due to dams upstream, hot, sunny summer weather, and exciting whitewater rapids through lush forests and steep canyons. The Wild section of the Illinois River has 150 rapids, 11 of which are Class IV and one of which has the most difficult rating for a rapid, Class V. It is one of the most inaccessible rivers in the lower 48 states and should only be run by highly skilled and experienced boaters! .
Mountain Biking and Off-Highway Vehicles: Mountain biking is a very popular sport for visitors to the Siskiyou National Forest. Hundreds of miles of Forest Service, unimproved roads offer unlimited biking adventures through forests and open landscapes on steep or gentle terrain. The Forest contains over 500 miles of trails. Many of these trails are open to horseback riders, motorcycles and mountain bikes.
Scenic Drives: Road 1205, starting near Brookings and leading to the Bomb Site Trail in the Wheeler Creek Research Natural Area provides a scenic drive through the Forest. Several campgrounds are located along this road or connecting roads.
Winter Sports: Page Mountain, elevation 5,125 feet, provides winter recreation opportunities for both snowmobiling and cross-country skiing on the Siskiyou National Forest. It is a designated Oregon Sno-Park Area and you will need to purchase an Oregon Sno-Park permit to park in the parking area. These permits are available at all Oregon Department of Motor Vehicle offices. Many businesses in Cave Junction also sell Sno-Park Permits.
Climate - The Coast Range is a temperate rain forest with an annual rainfall ranging from 60 inches to over 100 inches at higher elevations. Rainfall occurs mostly from October through June. The coastal climate is affected strongly by the Pacific Ocean. Temperatures near the coast seldom exceed 75 degrees in the summer and snow is rare in the winter. Inland, the ocean influence diminishes and summer temperatures reach the 80s and 90s, and snowfall is common in the higher elevations in the winter.
The Siskiyou Mountains are situated at a latitude that is subjected to weather of both arctic and tropical origin. Snow and rain are common in the winter, and summer temperatures can vary considerably depending on the origin of storm patterns.
The Siskiyou National Forest is located in the Klamath Mountains and the Coast Ranges of Southwestern Oregon with a small segment of the Forest extending into Northwestern California and the Siskiyou Mountain Range. The towns of Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings are located to the west of the Forest, along Highway 101. The Siskiyou is headquartered in Grants Pass, to the east of the Forest along Interstate 5.