by Kim Cooper Findling
There was once gold in Gold Beach. Placer mines appeared near the mouth of the Rogue River in the late 1800s. However, these days the gold in this quiet Southern Oregon beach town is only metaphorical. The Wild and Scenic Rogue River anchors the town to the north, Turner Creek to the south, and the glorious Pacific pound the shores to the west. Its primary offerings are stunning beauty and gateways to the adventurous outdoors. On a spring trip, visit sandy beaches, take in viewpoints galore or catch a winter steelhead. Alternatively, just kick back—Gold Beach is in Curry County, and the locals like to say, “There’s no hurry in Curry.” Visit this little town to slow down and take in the breezy beaches and roiling sea.
The Prehistoric Gardens experience begins with a glimpse of a brontosaurus peeking from the foliage along US 101, sixteen miles north of town. This roadside attraction devoted to dinosaurs opened in 1955. Today, visitors spy twenty-three dinos on a short self-guided tour through the natural rain forest.
The historic whaling vessel the Wreck of the Mary D. Hume slowly rots in place near the Patterson Bridge over the Rogue River, just a few hundred feet from where she was originally constructed. Built in 1881, the boat boasted 97 years of active service, still holding the record for longest-serving vessel of the Pacific coast. In 1978, the ship was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 1950s, three brothers installed hydro-jets in boats and became the first commercial jet boat tour company in the nation. Today, Jerry’s Rogue Jets tours 35,000 people annually on the Rogue River. Tours don’t start up until May, but Jerry’s Jets Museum is open year-round, and free to visit. This tiny but mighty exhibit covers local history of the Tututni Native Americans, fur trappers, gold miners, and the early mail boats on the Rogue.
The Rogue River’s headwaters emerge from the slopes of Crater Lake, and the river flows through steep canyons and rugged mountains to emerge 215 miles later on the shores of Gold Beach. The river is renowned for whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking and wild adventure. The Rogue is also one of the original eight rivers in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The winter steelhead fishing season peaks in March; don rain gear and get out there to try to catch a ten- to sixteen-pounder.
The Southern Oregon coastline is some of the most beautiful scenery in Oregon. Otter Point State Park, 4.5 miles north of Gold Beach on US 101, is a headland marked by unusual sandstone formations sculpted by wind and waves. Try the short and easy Overlook Trail for spring wildflowers. Six miles south of town is the Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor. Two elevated parking lots deliver views of the sea and shoreline north to Humbug Mountain and south to California. Keep an eye out for migrating gray whales! Then, hike a 1.5-mile trail through a forest of Sitka spruce to explore the lower levels of the cape.
Inland, discover magnificent forests. The Francis Shrader Old Growth Trail is a 0.8-mile loop trail through a beautiful forest of old-growth Port Orford cedar and Douglas fir. The walk is great for most skill levels and provides a quick, magical payoff.
Gold Beach Eats
Located in a circular building on the highway, the Barnacle Bistro is fun and friendly with delicious food. Try three kinds of tacos, crab cakes, or coconut lime mussels, or order a grilled sandwich served with fresh-made ginger slaw, garlic fries or a farm salad on the side.
Gold Beach’s fine-dining destination, Spinner’s Seafood Steak & Chop House offers fresh local seafood such as cedar planked wild king salmon or Dungeness crab pasta. Historic photographs line the walls and a bar and lounge bring back memories of years past.
Visiting Arch Rock Brewing Co. is like having a beer in a friend’s garage. Located up Turner Creek in a small industrial park, this brewery crafts fresh beer in a former cabinet shop, winning awards along the way. Sip the State of Jefferson Porter or the Pistol River Pale. Then chat with the owner or brewer right where the magic happens.
Peruse new, used and rare books, as well as local art and forgotten lore, at Gold Beach Books. The small on-site cafe called Biscuit CoffeeHouse sells baked goods and coffee drinks.
The myrtlewood tree is only found on the Southern Oregon and Northern California coasts. This hardwood with a brilliant wood grain is celebrated at the Rogue River Myrtlewood gallery, where you’ll find beautiful carved, crafted and polished items to take home.
Tucked along the Rogue River in a lush forest, upriver a few miles and away from any and all distractions, the Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge is the epitome of luxury and peace. In this grand structure with a massive rock fireplace and river views, wine is offered in the late afternoon, and morning and evening meals are served communally. Rooms have private patios, lush furnishings and wood-burning fireplaces. Wander the expansive lawn to the riverfront to skip a few rocks, see wildlife, watch the boats go by or kick back in a chair and relax.
Ever wished to sleep in a treehouse? Bluebird House B+B is a small cabin built around a marvelous tree. The open-room wooden structure is perched on a hillside with a private deck with ocean views. Relax in your own childhood dreamhouse.
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