You won’t be the first to discover the dramatic beauty of southern Oregon’s Rogue River—but at least you’ll be in good company. Zane Grey, Teddy Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover journeyed here in the early 1900s to enjoy the rustic comforts of Rogue-side fishing lodges. With the advent of Hollywood, such stars as John Wayne, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, and Carole Lombard came to the Rogue for a bit of backcountry R&R. More recently, Meryl Streep battled the Rogue’s white water as she trained for lier splashy 1994 thriller, The River Wild Clearly the Rogue is a river with star power.
From its beginnings on the flanks of Crater Lake to its entry into the Pacific at Gold Beach, the Rogue charts an impetuous westward course through the lower left-hand corner of Oregon. From its Cascade Range headwaters, the river plunges through lava canyons and dense forests, then, after slowing in an arid pear-growing valley near Medford, cuts a precipitous path through the crenellated Coast Range. This portion of the Rogue, preserved in the Wild Rogue Wilderness Area, is one of the most legendary white-water rivers in the U.S. Within its canyon, the river drops sharply through a 34-mile series of chutes and chasms, providing an adrenaline-pumping three-day white-water adventure of Class III and IV rapids. As it nears the Pacific, the river slows and broadens. Flanked by dense coastal forest, this majestic stretch of the Rogue draws outdoorsmen of another sort who come for fantastic fishing: Chinook salmon and fighting steelhead are the prize.
Which of the Rogue’s multiple personali-ties you’ll get to know depends on where you test the waters. Just east of Grants Pass, the beloved Weasku Inn (as in “We ask you in”) sits on the banks of the Rogue amid towering pine and fir trees. The handsome log lodge, originally built in 1924, was a favorite of Hollywood celebrities in its early years, and its woodsy charm is still potent, particularly after a complete renovation revitalized its rustic elegance.
Near the mouth of the river at Gold Beach, just 7 miles from the Pacific, is the Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge (with the accent on the second syllable), a sophisticated retreat for anglers or anyone seeking a tranquil escape and one of Oregon’s best-loved getaways. Fishing is excellent on the lower reaches of the Rogue, and Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge will set you up with a guide to help you catch your limit. Looking for something more exhilarating? Powerful jet boats depart from the lodge dock and head upstream, reaching the edge of the Rogue’s wilderness canyon boundary before bouncing through rapids back to the lodge.
The fun is extensive, but equally attractive are Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge’s gracious hospitality and acclaimed restaurant. Meals here are sumptuous, celebrating the bounty of the nearby river, ocean, and forests. In the evening, guests gather for hors d’oeuvres on the terrace before adjourning to the candlelit dining room, perhaps to enjoy fresh wild Chinook salmon with fruit jalapeno salsa and popovers, a lodge specialty. The rooms are spacious, many with water-view decks, some with fireplaces and outdoor soaking tubs, all with a restrained elegance that merges effortlessly with the serene woodlands.