A post office was established in the area in 1909 and named "Rowe" after Henry S. Rowe, a mayor of Portland, Oregon who was interested in developing the state's scenic attractions. In 1917 the office was renamed "Zig Zag" and shortly thereafter "Zigzag". (The name was later reused for the post office in the current community of Zigzag.) In 1920 the office was renamed "Rhododendron" because of the large number of rhododendrons growing near there. The community started out as a summer resort colony, but with the increased popularity of skiing, it became a year-round settlement.