Upper and Lower Table Rocks are two of the most prominent topographic features in the Rogue River Valley. These flat-topped buttes rise approximately 800 feet above the north bank of the Rogue River in southwestern Oregon. Upper and Lower refer to their positions relative to each other along the Rogue River; Lower Table Rock is located downstream, or lower on the river, from Upper Table Rock.
The Table Rocks were designated in 1984 as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) to protect special plants and animal species, unique geologic and scenic values, and education opportunities. The remarkable diversity of the Table Rocks includes a spectacular spring wildflower display of over 75 species, including the dwarf wooly meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila), which grows nowhere else on Earth but on the top of the Table Rocks. Vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), federally listed as threatened, inhabit the seasonally formed vernal pools found on the tops of both rocks.
According to distinctive dart and projectile points found in the Rogue River Valley archaeologists estimate that people have lived in this valley for 10- 15,000 years. Two Native American communities of completely different languages shared territory in the valley. more>>
One of the most significant differences between the Native Americans of the Rogue Valley and the Euro-Americans who came to "settle" the region had to do with the acquisition of food. The settlers were an agricultural people in contrast to the indigenous tribes whose hunter-gatherer lifestyles were based on moving throughout the region as wild food resources became available and abundant. This subsistence pattern, known as the Seasonal Round, required access to a large tract of land, extensive knowledge of the cycles of the native plants and animals that lived and grew there and a belief system that prevented the overuse of these limited resources. more>>
To the Takelma tribe that lived here, the Rogue Valley was not just their home; it was what defined them as a culture and a people. Eevery bit of food they ate, every article of clothing they wore and every object they crafted were directly related to their immediate surroundings. Few of them ever set foot out of this region and so from birth until death, everything they did was associated with the landscape that made up the Rogue Valley. more>>
Although the Takelma did not have agriculture or domesticated plants or animals, they did intensively manage the land. Their main land management tool was fire. Native Americans would set fires in the cool months of fall to manage the land and protect important areas from large scale fires. By setting small fires, the fuels (logs, twigs, brush) were decreased and large scale fires would not occur in that area. Native Americans would protect their semi-permanent homes and medicinal or nutritional plants in this manner. more>>
Virtually all of the surviving tribal members were relocated to reservations in northwestern Oregon in 1856 following the Rogue Indian Wars. Today, their descendants are members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and Grand Ronde. more>>
Who Built the Trails?
The Table Rock trails, as well as many others in the Rogue Valley, are the result of one man's unending enthusiasm for developing trails and educating the public about the area's natural resources. If it weren't for John Ifft's foresight and persistence, you wouldn't be hiking today's trails on the Table Rocks, Grizzly Peak, or along the Sterling Mine Ditch. more>>
Tribal Ceremonies at Table Rocks
In September 2011, the BLM, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, and The Nature Conservancy signed an agreement to care for and enhance the Table Rocks for generations to come. This agreement comes 158 years after the first agreement was signed to provide a homeland for the ancestors of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.
In 2012, the BLM, The Nature Conservancy, and the Cow Creek Tribe entered into an agreement. This Memorandum of Understanding is to establish a manage and maintain the Table Rocks Management Area near Medford Oregon. These videos highlight this unique partnerships that continue to exist at Table Rocks.