Gold Beach, Oregon

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AVweb's publisher decompresses at the Tu Tu' Tun Lodge by the wild and scenic Rogue River. Great scenery, great fishing, and lodge owners Laurie and Dirk Van Zante really know how to spoil visiting flyers.

"The West Coast", particularly if you are from east of the Mississippi, usually means California. We should not forget that the "left" coast also includes Oregon and Washington. The diversity of terrain and climate that can be found in and among these three states never ceases to amaze me as I fly over deserts, forests, mountains and finally the beaches and ocean of the coast itself. Stop as few as 25 to 50 miles from the coast and you can be in an arid region populated by foothill sized mountains. Traveling from there through tall redwood forests, hilly wine vineyards and winding roads you finally reach the coast. This diversion, short of your destination, might be necessary due to the coastal fog and stratus which can last all day during parts of the year. Always have a good alternate in mind when flying here.

A good place for pilots wishing to feel the Northern West Coast is the Tu Tu' Tun Lodge on the Rogue River in Gold Beach, Oregon. The Lodge's name comes from the Tu Tu' Tun Indians, a subtribe of the Rogue Indians who had an encampment along the Rogue River where the Lodge sits today. "Tunne" meant "people"; "Tu Tu Tunne" were the "people close to the river."

The Lodge

Tu Tu' Tun Lodge, located seven miles up the north side of the Rogue River, was originally built in 1970 and totally refurbished in 1994 to reflect the open-beamed, heavy timbered style of the Northwest. Each pleasant and neat room has a 12 foot sliding door opening onto a private patio or balcony, overlooking the Rogue River.

 Sitting outside a watching the river and all the wildlife is a relaxing way to end or start your day. We were fortunate enough to see a bald eagle flying right past our room over the river. It was quite a sight.

The inn is run by your hosts Laurie and Dirk Van Zante who have been owners since 1980 when they bought it from Dirk's father. When you check in, Laurie or Dirk look at you and say, "Carl........Helen......" and commit your names to their wonderful memory. From then on you are on first name basis with them. Count on Dirk or Laurie and their staff to help you plan your days, make you a picnic lunch or help in any other way possible. Fortunately for you they are experts at running the Lodge and they show it in their service and friendly attention.

The Food

Meals are something to look forward to. Breakfast usually consists of some fresh fruit, fresh baked muffins and bread followed by a choice of some hot wholesome food like natural grain oatmeal, or crusted home baked French toast. All meals are served family style in the large windowed dining room.

 Dinner starts with wine and hors d'oeuvres at 6:30 followed by a great meal. Fresh salmon, mesquite grilled turkey breast are just two of the meals we had and each was delicious. Meeting other travelers at the dinner table is always interesting, if things get slow just mention that you flew your own plane into Gold Beach airport and the discussion will turn interesting.

After dinner there is an open fire on the patio outside where you can just sit and think about what you did that day and what you are going to do the next.

The River

The Rogue River offers plenty to do when you visit. If you come in Spring or Fall, fishing is the main attraction. The Spring season includes the Rouge River run of Chinook Salmon which range in size from 15 to 40 pounds. The peak season is from mid April through May. In the Fall Steelhead and Chinook Salmon can be found ranging from 1/2 to 15 pounds for the Steelhead and 2 to 7 pounds for the Jack male Chinook Salmon. Guides are available for the Chetco and Coquille rivers, along with the Rogue, and can provide all the necessary equipment including a boat with a heater and top.

In the summer months the Rogue can be explored with trips in jet boats holding 15 to 25 passengers. This river is one of a limited number of rivers to receive a Wild and Scenic status. The 104 mile white water jet boat trip makes a whole day of fun on the river. We had never gone UP white water rapids before. The guides are very knowledgeable and point out lots of wildlife and vegetation along the way. Lunch is provided at the Paradise lodge 52 miles up river. Jet boats stop at the Tu Tu' Tun private dock each mooring at about 8:00 a.m. for the trip.

The Rogue Valley and Gold Beach

The Rogue River valley is surrounded by hills and forest which you can explore by foot or in a car. There are several self guided nature walks through the old growth forests on which you can learn a lot about the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. Along the coast route 101 offers scenic beauty at every turn. Many of the state parks along the way offer hiking trails that lead along ridges high above the Pacific Ocean, or wind down to the rocks along the shoreline.

The West Coast beaches of Oregon are studded with large rocks both on shore and offshore giving a depth to the scene that you can't get looking out at the East's Atlantic Ocean. Walking along the beach with only the wind and the ocean tickling your senses is a great way to unwind and let the stress of everyday living out.

The Airport

Gold Beach Municipal (4S1) has one 3,200'x75' asphalt runway with pilot-controlled lighting at night. It's adequate for my Aerostar if I pay attention to what I'm doing. There is no instrument approach. So flying in there is easy if the weather cooperates. While no weather is available for Gold Beach, if you call Ron Armstrong, Director of operations of the Port of Gold Beach, at (503) 247-6269 he will look outside and tell you what it looks like. Parking is two bucks a night and fuel is available.

Be sure to tell Tu Tu' Tun you're flying in and they will leave the old Volvo at the airport for you. The high security at the airport means that they will leave the keys under the right front floor mat of the car. It has worked every time for us.

If the weather is uncooperative, it may be possible to shoot the approach at Crescent City, California and then cancel and fly just offshore north to Gold Beach. The same can be done in the other direction from North Bay, Oregon. If the weather is too bad to run up (or down) the coast, just rent a car and drive — the scenery is great and it is only 1-1.5 hours to Gold beach. If the coastal weather is too bad, or if your instrument skills or ratings aren't up to it, stop in Grants Pass, Oregon and make the longer but no less spectacular drive from there to Tu Tu' Tun.

Tu Tu' Tun can be reached at 96550 North Bank Rogue, Gold Beach Oregon 97444, telephone (503) 247-6664 or FAX (503) 247-0672. Tell Dirk and Laurie that Carl and Helen said hello!