Gold Beach, Oregon

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 eastof the Mississippi, usually means California. We should not forgetthat the "left" coast also includes Oregon and Washington.The diversity of terrain and climate that can be found in andamong these three states never ceases to amaze me as I fly overdeserts, forests, mountains and finally the beaches and oceanof the coast itself. Stop as few as 25 to 50 miles from the coastand you can be in an arid region populated by foothill sized mountains.Traveling from there through tall redwood forests, hilly winevineyards and winding roads you finally reach the coast. Thisdiversion, short of your destination, might be necessary due tothe coastal fog and stratus which can last all day during partsof the year. Always have a good alternate in mind when flyinghere.

A good place for pilots wishing to feel the Northern West Coastis 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 subtribeof the Rogue Indians who had an encampment along the Rogue Riverwhere 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 theRogue River, was originally built in 1970 and totally refurbishedin 1994 to reflect the open-beamed, heavy timbered style of theNorthwest. Each pleasant and neat room has a 12 foot sliding dooropening onto a private patio or balcony, overlooking the RogueRiver.

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

The inn is run by your hosts Laurie and Dirk Van Zante who havebeen 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 onyou are on first name basis with them. Count on Dirk or Laurieand their staff to help you plan your days, make you a picniclunch or help in any other way possible. Fortunately for you theyare experts at running the Lodge and they show it in their serviceand friendly attention.

The Food

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

 Dinner starts with wineand hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 followed by a great meal. Fresh salmon,mesquite grilled turkey breast are just two of the meals we hadand each was delicious. Meeting other travelers at the dinnertable is always interesting, if things get slow just mention thatyou flew your own plane into Gold Beach airport and the discussionwill turn interesting.

After dinner there is an open fire on thepatio outside where you can just sit and think about what youdid 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 comein Spring or Fall, fishing is the main attraction. The Springseason includes the Rouge River run of Chinook Salmon which rangein size from 15 to 40 pounds. The peak season is from mid Aprilthrough May. In the Fall Steelhead and Chinook Salmon can be foundranging from 1/2 to 15 pounds for the Steelhead and 2 to 7 poundsfor the Jack male Chinook Salmon. Guides are available for theChetco and Coquille rivers, along with the Rogue, and can provideall the necessary equipment including a boat with a heater andtop.

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

The Rogue Valley and Gold Beach

The Rogue River valley is surrounded by hills and forest whichyou can explore by foot or in a car. There are several self guidednature walks through the old growth forests on which you can learna lot about the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. Along the coastroute 101 offers scenic beauty at every turn. Many of the stateparks along the way offer hiking trails that lead along ridgeshigh above the Pacific Ocean, or wind down to the rocks alongthe shoreline.

The West Coast beaches of Oregon are studded withlarge rocks both on shore and offshore giving a depth to the scenethat you can’t get looking out at the East’s Atlantic Ocean. Walkingalong the beach with only the wind and the ocean tickling yoursenses is a great way to unwind and let the stress of everydayliving out.

The Airport

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

Be sure to tell Tu Tu’ Tun you’re flying in and they will leavethe old Volvo at the airport for you. The high security at theairport means that they will leave the keys under the right frontfloor 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 GoldBeach. The same can be done in the other direction from NorthBay, Oregon. If the weather is too bad to run up (or down) thecoast, just rent a car and drive — the scenery is great and itis only 1-1.5 hours to Gold beach. If the coastal weather is toobad, or if your instrument skills or ratings aren’t up to it,stop in Grants Pass, Oregon and make the longer but no less spectaculardrive from there to Tu Tu’ Tun.

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